According to a standard interpretation, Plato’s conception of our moral psychology evolved over the course of his written dialogues. In his earlier dialogues, notably the Protagoras, Meno, and Gorgias, Plato’s Socrates maintains that we always do what we believe is best. Many commentators infer from this that Socrates holds that the psyche is simple, in the sense that there is only one ultimate source of motivation: reason. By contrast, in the Republic, Phaedrus, and Timaeus, Socrates holds that the psyche is complex, or has three distinct and semi-autonomous sources of motivation, which he calls the reasoning, spirited, and appetitive parts. While the rational part determines what is best overall and motivates us to pursue it, the spirited and appetitive parts incline us toward different objectives, such as victory, honor, and esteem, or the satisfaction of our desires for food, drink, and sex.
José Ortega y Gasset (1883–1955) was a prolific and
distinguished Spanish philosopher in the twentieth century. In the
course of his career as philosopher, social theorist, essayist,
cultural and aesthetic critic, educator, politician and editor of the
influential journal, Revista de Occidente, he has written on
a broad range of themes and issues. Among his many books are:
Meditations on Quixote (1914), Invertebrate Spain
(1921), The Theme of Our Time (1923), Ideas on the
Novel (1925), The Dehumanization of Art (1925), What
is Philosophy? (1929), The Revolt of the Masses (1930),
En Torno a Galileo [Man and Crisis] (1933),
History as a System (1935), Man and People
(1939–40), The Origin of Philosophy (1943), The
Idea of Principle in Leibnitz and the Evolution of Deductive
According to Dominic Lopes, expressiveness in pictures should be analyzed solely in terms of “expression looks” of various sorts, namely the look of a figure, a scene and/or a design. But, according to this view, it seems puzzling that expressive pictures should have any emotional effect on their audiences. Yet Lopes explicitly ties his “contour theory” of expression in pictures to empathic responses in spectators. Thus, despite his deflationary account of pictorial expression, he claims that pictures can give us practice in various “empathic skills.” I argue that Lopes’s account of empathic responses to pictures, while interesting and enlightening, nevertheless ignores the most important way in which pictures exercise and enhance our empathic skills, namely, by giving us practice in taking the emotional perspective of another person.
I argue that the function attributed to episodic memory by Mahr & Csibra (that is, grounding one’s claims to epistemic authority over past events) fails to support the essentially autonoetic character of such memories. I suggest, in contrast, that episodic event-memories are sometimes purely first-order, sometimes autonoetic, depending on relevance in the context.
You aren’t supposed to talk about it. Not really. And certainly not in front of the kids. But that isn’t why you don’t remember it. That isn’t why you don’t remember the way it feels. You don’t remember the way it feels because it doesn’t leave a memory trace to begin with. The facts are retained, but the feeling disappears. What I’m alluding to is the pain of childbirth—hush, don’t let my kids read this, but it did hurt! Yet although I can remember that labor pains hurt, I can’t remember what they felt like. Although I can remember that they were too traumatic to sleep through and that while standing under the shower trying to alleviate the agony, I tore down the soap dish bolted into the wall, I can’t conjure up the sensory experience itself. Although my memory of the events leading up to the birth is pellucid—I remember how the nurses were impressed that I wanted to suffer through it unmedicated and how, when it came down to the wire, my obstetrician started humming Blue Moon—my memory of the bodily sensations is nonexistent. Introspection, here, reveals an utter blank. Contrary to the adage about experience being the best teacher, experience’s pedagogy was an utter failure.
What is the role of affective experience in explaining how our desires provide us with reasons for action? When we desire that p, we are thereby disposed to feel attracted to the prospect that p, or to feel averse to the prospect that not-p. In this paper, we argue that affective experiences – including feelings of attraction and aversion – provide us with reasons for action in virtue of their phenomenal character. Moreover, we argue that desires provide us with reasons for action only insofar as they are dispositions to have affective experiences. On this account, affective experience has a central role to play in explaining how desires provide reasons for action.
This article develops an account of local epistemic practices on the basis of case studies from ethnobiology. I argue that current debates about objectivity often stand in the way of a more adequate understanding of local knowledge and ethno-biological practices in general. While local knowledge about the biological world often meets criteria for objectivity in philosophy of science, general debates about the objectivity of local knowledge can also obscure their unique epistemic features. In modification of Ian Hacking’s suggestion to discuss “ground level questions” instead of objectivity, I propose an account that focuses on both epistemic virtues and vices of local epistemic practices.
Karl Jaspers (1883–1969) began his academic career working as
a psychiatrist and, after a period of transition, he converted to
philosophy in the early 1920s. Throughout the middle decades of the
twentieth century he exercised considerable influence on a number of
areas of philosophical inquiry: especially on epistemology, the
philosophy of religion, and political theory. The influence of Kant over Jaspers is widely acknowledged in the
literature, to the extent that he has been depicted as “The
first and the last Kantian” (Heinrich Barth, quoted in Ehrlich
1975, 211). Usually this evaluation is based on his reliance on the
subjective-experiential transformation of Kantian philosophy, which
reconstructs Kantian transcendentalism as a doctrine of particular
experience and spontaneous freedom, and emphasizes the constitutive
importance of lived existence for authentic knowledge.
Must true love be free? If one is manipulated to love another, it’s intuitive is that the love is not genuine or deeply valuable. Hence it seems that true love must be freely bestowed. Yet falling in love is often involuntary, and thus the metaphor of Cupid’s arrow. Must true love be deserved? If so, the truly beloved must be free, since freedom is required for desert. At the same time desert appears irrelevant to much of our love – we love our children independently of whether they deserve it. Intuitions about the relationship between love and freedom are thus conflicted, and stand in need of philosophical illumination.
It is clear that members entering a community are formed, via the process of enculturation, by a "cultural framework". It is also clear that such a "cultural framework", in turn, is produced by the members of the community. The nature of this dialectical movement – producing the framework while being produced by it – has been investigated for a long time; however, it is only recently that some scholars have been coming to realize the central importance of rules and norms for the adequate description of the process. In this paper I argue that to understand we must give pride of place to norms quite radically – we must realize how deeply normative creatures we humans are. I argue that even the most promising accounts of this movement, such as those based on the concept of "mindshaping" or on the idea of "social niche construction" must be seen as essentially normative enterprises.
Bruno Bauer (6 September 1809–13 April 1882), philosopher,
historian, and theologian. His career falls into two main phases,
divided by the Revolutions of 1848. In the 1840s, the period known as
the Vormärz or the prelude to the German revolutions of March
1848, Bauer was a leader of the Left-Hegelian movement, developing a
republican interpretation of Hegel, which combined ethical and
aesthetic motifs. His theory of infinite self-consciousness, derived
from Hegel’s account of subjective spirit, stressed rational autonomy
and historical progress. Investigating the textual sources of
Christianity, Bauer described religion as a form of alienation, which,
because of the deficiencies of earthly life, projected irrational,
transcendent powers over the self, while sanctioning particularistic
sectarian and material interests.
Ammonius (ca. 435/445–517/526) taught philosophy at Alexandria,
where his father Hermeias had taught earlier. Known primarily for his
commentaries on Aristotle, which were said to be of greater benefit
than anyone else’s, he was also distinguished in geometry and
astronomy. Himself a pupil of Proclus at Athens, at Alexandria
Ammonius taught most of the important Platonists of the late
5th and early 6th centuries: Asclepius,
Damascius and Simplicius, Eutocius, and Olympiodorus; Elias and David
are considered indirect pupils of his. Damascius, who went on to head
the school at Athens, heard Ammonius lecture, but attached himself
rather to the mentorship of Isidore and followed him to Athens.
By perfectly fine I mean: not at all morally blameworthy. By aiming I mean: being ready to calibrate ourselves up or down to hit the target. I would contrast aiming with settling, which does not necessarily involve calibrating down if one is above target. …
September’s general elections have brought Germany its own Brexit/Trump moment. For the first time since 1945 a far right nationalist party is part of the German national parliament. The Alternative for Germany, AfD, gained 12,6 % of German votes. …
Aristotle (b. 384 – d. 322 BCE), was a Greek philosopher,
logician, and scientist. Along with his teacher Plato, Aristotle is
generally regarded as one of the most influential ancient thinkers in
a number of philosophical fields, including political theory. Aristotle was born in Stagira in northern Greece, and his father was a
court physician to the king of Macedon. As a young man he studied in
Plato's Academy in Athens. After Plato's death he left Athens to
conduct philosophical and biological research in Asia Minor and
Lesbos, and he was then invited by King Philip II of Macedon to tutor
his young son, Alexander the Great.
[Editor's Note: The following new entry by Craig Martin replaces the
on this topic by the previous author.] Pietro Pomponazzi (1462–1525) was a leading philosopher of
Renaissance Italy. Teaching primarily at the universities at Padua and
Bologna, he developed innovative approaches to Aristotelian natural
philosophy and psychology. He gained particular fame, and notoriety,
for his philosophical investigations into the mortality of the soul
and for his naturalistic explanations of seemingly miraculous
phenomena and of the development of religions. Pomponazzi was notable
for his philosophical challenges to religious doctrine as well as for
his use of Alexander of Aphrodisias’s writings and Stoic ideas
to forge what he considered to be a purer or more accurate
interpretation of Aristotle’s natural philosophy and
H ypocrites invite moral opprobrium, and charges of hypocrisy are a significant and widespread feature of our moral lives. Yet it remains unclear what hypocrites have in common, or what is distinctively bad about them. We propose that hypocrites are persons who have undermined their claim to moral authority. Since this self-undermining can occur in a number of ways, our account construes hypocrisy as multiply realizable. As we explain, a person’s moral authority refers to a kind of standing that they occupy within a particular moral community. This status is both socially important and normatively precarious. Hence, moral agents are right to be vigilant when it comes to hypocrisy, and are often justified in their outrage when they detect it. We further argue that our view can preserve what is attractive in rival accounts, while avoiding their associated problems.
In desiring the good, we aim to have our lives go well. This is the proposal I formulate and defend throughout the book. The desire to have one’s life go well makes one do something rather than nothing, perform this or that action, take up one pursuit or another. Agents need—and draw on—conceptions of what constitutes a good life. Conceptions of a good life locate some concerns at the center: this is what matters to the agent; these are the pursuits she takes up. Other concerns are located at the periphery, either because psychological resources are limited and the agent cannot care as much about them as she otherwise would; or because she thinks these matters deserve only little attention, though they need to be dealt with. Much about our conceptions of a good life is implicit. Much is encoded in affective attitudes or adopted by way of picking up a way of life shared with others. Typically conceptions of a good life have areas to which an agent has devoted considerable reflection—here we may say she knows what she wants—and others that are outlinish or unattended to. Moreover, for most of us our conception of a good life is work in progress. Perhaps it is even conflicted, say, because we take up pursuits that are not evidently compatible. We may want, as it were, more than fits into one life. Such conflicts flag that ordinarily agents do not have full-fledged and comprehensive conceptions of a good life. None of these constraints, however, makes the role of wanting one’s life go well any less fundamental for human motivation.
The kind of skepticism that interests me in this book is not the skepticism that asks whether or not I know that this is my hand, or that you are not a zombie. Instead, it is part of an approach to epistemology that thinks of questions about knowledge, belief, and truth as being immediately tied to normative and evaluative questions. Much of the inspiration for this kind of skepticism derives from Socrates, or rather, the Socrates of Plato’s dialogues. In a famous line of the Apology, Socrates says that the unexamined life is not worth living for a human being (38a5-6). Ancient skepticism inherits this spirit. It is centrally about stepping back from belief-formation and counteracting one’s tendencies to be quick to judge. Closely related, it is concerned with the ways in which one can fail to understand one’s own thoughts, and fail to examine thoughts because one likes or dislikes them, or because one prefers to hold a view as opposed to holding no view. These psychological phenomena are taken to differ importantly from processes of rationally guided belief-formation, where a cognizer is inclined to accept a thought after careful consideration of whether it is true.
The attempt to model the structure of consciousness in split-brain subjects is on-going. This paper concerns the recently proposed switch model of split-brain consciousness, according to which a split-brain subject possesses only a single stream of consciousness, unified at and across time, that shifts from one hemisphere to the other from moment to moment. The paper argues that while the central explanatory element of the switch model may account for some aspects of split-brain consciousness, the best general picture of split-brain consciousness is still offered by some version of the conscious duality model.
For a philosopher to speculate about animal cognition is implicitly to engage in theoretical psychology or theoretical neurology at a very high level of abstraction. As with all sciences, research in psychology and neurology need to be guided by speculative hypotheses, in these particular cases, by hypotheses about what kinds of functions, hence structures, it would be sensible to look for. We philosophers may be in a position to help, but we can't expect armchair argument to go very far. In the end, all the questions are rock-bottom empirical.
In this article, I explore aspects of grief and the surprising mirroring of hermeneutic research and the experience of grief. Neither grief or hermeneutic research are predictable, formulaic, or without surprises, and both require patience, humility, and an openness to what comes to greet us in the nature of aletheia.
Kate Beamer’s (2017) article, And Coyote Howled: Listening to the Call of Interpretive Inquiry, in its raw grief, and thoughtful insight, brings to mind the hermeneutic capacity to understand grief as “not quite this and not quite that.” As much as I have studied grief from a hermeneutic research approach (Moules, McCaffrey, Field, & Laing, 2015), and I have counselled bereaved parents, and stood present with many parents at the death of their children, I have not personally felt grief in the way I do now, as five months later, I continue to interpret and re-interpret the death of my father, John Moules.
The scale of human cooperationIf you start with the assumption that biological altruism evolves because the benefits fall on genetic relatives, the scale of human social organization is puzzling. We cooperate with huge numbers of individuals who are not genetic kin—large-scale modern societies depend on it.Not all of this cooperation is altruistic—a lot of it is mutually beneficial. …
In his pioneering work of moral phenomenology, K. E. Løgstrup offered a phenomenological articulation of a central moment of ethical life: the experience in which “one finds oneself with the life of another more- or- less in one’s hands” (cf. EF p. 58/ED p. 46). In such circumstances we encounter what Løgstrup calls simply the ethical demand. Løgstrup’s preferred formulation of the content of that demand is taken from the Bible: Love thy neighbor. This neighborly love is expressed in the form of spontaneous, selfless care for the other. We shall have occasion in what follows to return to the content that Løgstrup associates with the ethical demand, but my primary focus here is not its content but its distinctive modality. Løgstrup specifies that modality in a fourfold analysis: the ethical demand is radical, silent, one- sided, and unfulfillable. My concern in what follows will be with the fourth element in this analysis—or what I shall refer to simply as Løgstrup’s unfulfillability thesis. My discussion addresses three specific questions: (1) Is it coherent to suppose that the ethical demand is unfulfillable? (2) Why does Løgstrup hold that the ethical demand is unfulfillable? (3) What kind of response is appropriate in the face of an unfulfillable ethical demand? In starting in on these questions, I propose to begin by considering a preemptive objection that has been levied against Løgstrup’s position.
The ‘cell state’ metaphorIn the 19th century, biologists came to appreciate for the first time the fundamentality of the cell to all life on Earth. One of the early pioneers of cell biology, Rudolf Virchow, realized that the discovery of the cell brought with it a new way of seeing the organism. …
In this paper we address the question of what determines the content of our conscious episodes of thinking, considering recent claims that phenomenal character individuates thought contents. We present one prominent way for defenders of phenomenal intentionality to develop that view and then examine ‘sensory inner speech views’, which provide an alternative way of accounting for thought-content determinacy. We argue that such views fare well with inner speech thinking but have problems accounting for unsymbolized thinking. Within this dialectic, we present an account of the nature of unsymbolized thinking that accords with and can be seen as a continuation of the activity of inner speech, while offering a way of explaining thought-content determinacy in terms of linguistic structures and representations.
I will provide you, free of charge, a beautiful island paradise in the Caribbean. Just imagine it: tall swaying palm trees, white sand beaches, crystal blue ocean vistas, exotic birds of every variety, baby-blue skies – everything we are accustomed to imagining when we hear the words 'island paradise.' On this island I will build for you any sort of house you desire. Create in your mind the most magnificent palace: indoor and outdoor swimming pools, elegant verandas, luxurious bedrooms, saunas, hot tubs, recreation rooms, gyms. It’s all yours. Beyond this, you may have anything to eat that you like, at any time of the day or night. Pick up the phone and order the finest meals prepared by the finest chefs from the finest restaurants across the world. It will all be delivered to you – by robots – at your merest wish.
Two of the most prominent questions in Kant’s critical philosophy
concern reason. One question is central to his theoretical philosophy. It arises from the metaphysical assertions of earlier
“rationalist” philosophers, especially Leibniz and
Descartes. Which claims can reason hope to establish securely? A
second question is central to his practical philosophy. It arises from
the subservient role accorded to reason by the British
empiricists—above all Hume, who declared, “Reason is
wholly inactive, and can never be the source of so active a principle
as conscience, or a sense of morals” (Treatise,
184.108.40.206; see also the entry on
rationalism vs. empiricism).
Reflection on talk of reasons for action or belief suggests that reasons serve both normative and explanatory purposes. After all, reasons are cited in answer both to “why should he do it?” and “why is he doing it?”, as well as in answer both to “why should he believe it?” and “why does he believe it?”. These normative and explanatory functions are not distinct. To explain by citing someone’s reason is to state a factor in virtue of whose support the action was performed or the proposition believed. One might think that this normative-explanatory nexus, as Joseph Raz has labeled it, is at the heart of rationality. That will, in any case, be our working hypothesis in this paper. We argue that the aesthetic domain falls inside the scope of rationality and, furthermore, that it does so in its own way.