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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Philosophy, Psychology, and Psychologism: Critical and Historical Readings on the Psychological Turn in Philosophy edited by Dale Jacquette (Kluwer Academic) presents a remarkable diversity of contemporary opinions on the prospects of addressing philosophical topics from a psychological perspective. It considers the history and philosophical merits of psychologism, and looks systematically at psychologism in phenomenology, cognitive science, epistemology, logic, philosophy of language, philosophical semantics, and artificial intelligence. It juxtaposes many different philosophical standpoints, each supported by rigorous philosophical argument. Philosophy, Psychology, and Psychologism is intended for professionals in the fields indicated, advanced undergraduate and graduate students in related areas of study, and interested lay readers.

Among the dichotomies that have divided philosophers, the rift between psychologism and antipsychologism represents some of the most heated metaphilosophical debate. The problem of whether and in what sense logic, mathematics, philosophical semantics, epistemology, and metaphysics are explanatorily related to psychology has been a fundamental watershed in the contemporary philosophy.

The battlelines between psychologism and antipsychologism were first drawn in the mid-nineteenth-century. If logic, to take a conspicuous example, studies patterns of inference from thoughts to thoughts, then it has appeared to some theorists that logic is a branch of psychology that can best be understood in terms of the most advanced psychological science. Against this psychologistic view of logic, antipsychologistic opponents have argued that logic is not a descriptive theory of how we actually think, but a prescriptive account of how ideally we ought to think. Logic on this conception is independent of the empirical facts of psychology. The inherently subjective nature of thought content appears diametrically opposed to the objectivity of the eternal truths of logic, and of philosophy of language and mathematics. To preserve the objectivity required of a rational a priori rather than empirical a posteriori science, antipsychologists have rejected the idea that philosophy is grounded in even the most rigorously scientific psychology.

The psychologism-antipsychologism dispute can thus be interpreted as a deeper controversy about how philosophy can best be made scientific. There are two conflicting desiderata of science that provide a basis for the opposition between psychologism and antipsychologism. Science wants both to be objective and dependent on empirical facts. In physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, and the other hard sciences, there is no collision of these values. It is peculiarly in the case of psychology, where the empirical facts of psychological experience have at least traditionally been regarded as essentially subjective, that a division has emerged between two opposed ways of trying to make logic and other philosophical subdisciplines (broadly, according to one ideology or another) `scientific'. The comparatively late development of psychology as a science as well as the subjectivity of psychological phenomena can be seen in this light as partly responsible for the dialectical confrontation between psychologism and antipsychologism. The two categories signify the legitimate but incompatible interests of these fundamentally irreconcilable requirements for a scientific psychology.

If one could arrive at a satisfactory metaphysics of mind, then the apparently insurmountable impasse between psychologism and antipsychologism might simply disappear. Instead, one finds only further manifestations of these two different ways of thinking about the empirical facts of subjective psychological occurrences reflected also in the philosophy of mind. Here they appear in longstanding oppositions between phenomenology and cognitive science, or between nonreductive intentionalist substance or property mind-body dualisms and eliminative or reductive behaviorism, materialism, functionalism, or computationalism in the cognitive psychological sciences.

The disagreement over scientific ideals for psychology might be expected to fuel an inexhaustible dialectic between psychologism and antipsychologism. Such an interaction could provide the basis for a healthy and fruitful exchange in which competition from opposing sides could be harnassed for the sharpening of distinctions and refinement of arguments. To a limited extent, the opposition has continued and remains alive and well in the form of conflicts between realism and intuitionism or conceptualism, and between proponents and opponents of the program to naturalize or scientifically psychologize some of the traditionally nonpsychological philosophical disciplines like epistemology and metaphysics. In most ways, however, the psychologism-antipsychologism dispute has not exhibited this type of productive dialectical synergy. The rhetoric surrounding especially antipsychologistic philosophical discussions is revealing for its extraordinary degree of animus; it suggests the perception of a very ingrained division in outlook that cannot be overcome by a consideration of arguments with shared presuppositions, but that is directed polemically out of desperation at the presuppositions themselves.

Psychologism has largely withered away under the criticism of historically influential antipsychologists. The objections have appeared both from within analytic and in the continental schools of philosophy. Among analytic philosophers, the most strident assault on psychologism originates principally with Gottlob Frege and his many followers, including Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Rudolf Carnap, and others; while in the nonanalytic European tradition, Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger are perhaps the most noteworthy ostensible antipsychologists. The friends of psychologism, whether or not they would be willing to identify themselves as such, have continued the struggle under a variety of different banners, which is itself an important feature of the rhetoric of psychologism and antipsychologism.

To consider these problems, Jacquette invited a slate of distinguished scholars to present their perspectives on the history, philosophy, and rhetoric of psychologism. The papers with some overlap are presented roughly in historical sequence, by which the reader can trace certain themes through the development of the most significant episodes of the psychologism­antipsychologism debate. The present collection of essays draws on three distinct sources of recent discussion of the philosophical problems of psychologism. The papers by Rolf George, Carl Posy, J.N. Mohanty, Joseph Margolis, and Jacquette’s Introduction were first published in a special issue of the journal Philosophy & Rhetoric, which Jacquette guest-edited in 1997. Earlier versions of the essays by Michael Jubien, John H. Dreher, and Jacquette were presented as feature contributions to an invited symposium on 'Psychologism: The Current State of the Debate at the American Philosophical Association, Pacific Division, Albuquerque, NM, April 5-8, 2000. Finally, the essays by Werner Stelzner, Martin Kusch, Vincent Colapietro, Michael Bradie, Paul A. Roth, and Selmer Bringsjord and Yingrui Yang were specially commissioned for inclusion in this volume. Altogether, the expositions of critical and historical dimensions of psychologism offer a detailed picture of recent thinking about the problems and opportunities for philosophical understanding posed by various proposals for taking a psychological turn in philosophy. Philosophy, Psychology, and Psychologism represents vigorous survey of the best arguments for and against the issues involved in a critical philosophy of mind.

Desire and Belief: Introduction to Some Recent Philosophical Debates by Arthur E. Falk (Hamilton: University Press of America) Some call it folk psychology; others call it the perennial philosophy. According to Arthur Falk, author of Desire and Belief, it's the traditional account of the mind's features that make it unique in nature. This work examines the nature of what philosophers call de re mental attitudes, paying close attention to the controversies over the nature of these and allied mental states. Over the course of the book, a story emerges within the traditional account that ultimately appeals to Darwinian principles. The book concludes with two chapters on the contemporary project of naturalizing the mind.

What are states of mind? The book develops an answer with deep import for our understanding of ourselves. At once introductory, assuming only the reader's inquisitiveness, and yet rigorous enough to command the attention of experts, it maps the terrain to be explored, notes the minefields of philosophical controversy, and lays out a path through them. Respectful of the reader's own mind, the author always presents the major alter-natives to his views and gives reasons for preferring his own. His book is at once conservative, initially focusing on traditional mentalistic psychology and doing justice to the mind's uniquely human features, and also revolutionary, in that it uncovers by patient analysis of that psychology the primitive survivals of ancestral mentality, revealing the mind's evolution. Thus the author initiates a new kind of analytic technique that opens the way for philosophy to become more fruitful.

These notes take you from A to Z on the structure of desires and beliefs, and not only because the sections are lettered from A to Z. The phrase "from A to Z" tells you to expect full coverage of a subject. I do intend to review the prerequisites for understanding the subject at hand: what it is to be a mind able to make choices. Beliefs and desires are the motors, so to speak, of deliberating and choosing.

Alas, the words "from A to Z" may also suggest disconnection, as if these notes meet their encyclopedic goal by a mere list of information in alphabetic order. Instead of attempting comprehensive coverage that way, I zero in on what it is to have desires and beliefs, without which there could be no deliberation or choice. What one says of belief usually carries over to desire, so I emphasize belief, often leaving implicit the generalization to desire (and hope, anger, love, etc.). To study the many aspects of belief, I focus on an issue that enables me to encompass all the aspects, from A to Z, as I explore the issue. The issue is whether there are relational beliefs and, if so, what is it about them (and relational desires) that makes them relational. For the sake of unity, I stalk one issue through all its permutations, arguing for one side of the issue, defending it from the criticisms of the other sides and criticizing them.

The phenomenon (possibly a chimaeric phenomenon) that we'll examine is close at hand: It seems sometimes a believer conies into a distinctive relation to things, and that relation, whatever it may be, results in her believing something about them; it seems to underlie and strengthen the belief and enable her to believe more about them. Thus the name, "relational beliefs." Here's a putative example of a relational belief—I say "putative" because, if the phenomenon is chimaeric, no examples are real—but here it is: You see this page, and your belief about it, that it's white, is a relational belief. Perception is one of the distinctive types of relation supposed to underlie relational beliefs, in this case your belief about the thing you perceive. On the other hand, your belief that dinosaurs are extinct is not relational. Whatever relation you may have to the extinct dinosaurs is a consequence of your believing it rather than a precondition for believing. Well call that kind of belief notional.

The concept of relational belief could shed light on many areas of interest, for the range of relational beliefs, if there are any, might include much more besides those expressive of perceptions. For example, it might include even what occurs to someone who's experiencing religious conversion. Conversion can occur to someone who does not experience a change of mind about anything, just a change in the way some things are believed. Thus Job in the Bible tells God that, whereas formerly he had believed God's word without much effect, "now my eye seeth thee. Therefore I reprehend myself, and do penance in dust and ashes" (Job 42:5-6). Did Job's beliefs about God change only from being notional to being relational, and is that why they became more motivating? I raise the question here only to suggest the potential breadth of our topic.

Assuming for the moment that relational belief is a real phenomenon, what might the "distinctive relation" be, that's at the heart of the difference between relational and notional belief? Would you believe it is the essence of Dasein? You wouldn't? Oh . . . Well then, you'll have to plow through fifteen sections before the dust settles and an answer of sorts emerges, in section O.

§2. Is the idea of relational belief a scientific idea?

These notes, besides describing the data, also address the question, is a rigorous science possible of such mentalistic phenomena as relational belief? The answer partly depends on whether we can analyze knowledge and belief rigorously. What we claim about them must be definite and internally coherent before the matter of the claim's truth even arises. Another way of putting our question is, can we make folk psychology self-coherent and rigorous so that the issue of its truth becomes worth considering? (Folk psychology' is our everyday way`of thinking about one another's actions and states of mind. We think about actions in terms of the purposes or intentions they're supposed to fulfill, and we think about states of mind as composed of beliefs and desires. There's more on this topic in section H.) A scientific, experimental psychology, in contrast to folk psychology, may reject these terms, but should it? I think we can make folk psychology rigorous and self-coherent. In particular, the relational beliefs, which folk psychology posits, are not only real; they're suitable for science to theorize about.

Willard V.`Quine, the key philosopher on this topic, came to deny thatthesis, as have many other philosophers. So it can no longer be asserted without defense. These notes defend it, but only after they introduce Quine's classic presentation of the philosophical data. An introduction of technical terms goes along with the presentation; indeed it already began with the bold faced words. They're defined and indexed.

The phenomenon we'll examine suggests that minds differ in a fundamental way from everything else we know about. Folk psychology attributes to minds the ability to picture to themselves their world; more generally, minds make models or representations of aspects of the world that are important for guiding their purposeful activities. Minds don't think about the models; they think about the things modeled. It's such a yawn-provoker to say just that, however, that we gussy up the claim by saying minds enter into the relation of being about something. Still a bland thing to say, despite being less intelligible. So we give it a contentious ring by saying that, even if a thing is absent from a mind's vicinity, even if it never exists at all, the mind can enter into the relation of being about it—it, not the idea or image of it, but it. You should now feel somewhat puzzled by the fact that, for example, I dream about my dog Smokey, dead now these fifty years, looking at me and panting so that, if he were here, I'd give him some water. How can absent things be present to mind, (aboutness and presence often being converse" relations)? Another example to puzzle over: I and other readers of Dashiell Hammett's fiction are amazed how Sam Spade, private detective, tells he's being lied to. How can one and the same nonexistent thing, Sam Spade, be as present to others as it is to me? To clinch the puzzlement, the thesis that mental states are about things, all kinds of things, is given a fancy name, the intentionality of the mind.' (There's point in our using the fancy term instead of the more intuitive word "aboutness," since I'll later commandeer the word "about" to indicate a particular manifestation of intentionality and the term "directed toward" to indicate another manifestation of intentionality. The term "intentional" will then serve to cover them both generically.)

Many philosophers, taking the contrast between mind and nonmind at face value, say that the mind and the things that depend on mind, like the sentences we utter, are about things and states of affairs, and nothing else has this characteristic of being about something. I'm skeptical of this stark dichotomy; I think some things in nature are signs of ("of' = "about") other things independently of any minds, and even the simplest of organ-isms, an amoeba for instance, exploits some of them. Suppose, for example, a substance immersed in water sheds a chemical. The gradient of the dissolved chemical around the substance signifies its proximity and direction, whether or not it is so interpreted. When it is interpreted, no mind is needed for the interpreting: Unicellular organisms in the water sense the presence of either a nutritious or noxious substance by means of the type of chemical, and pursue or flee it, guided by the gradient. In view of the ubiquity of the phenomenon, a more cautious and more obviously true contrast to note is that:

  • Only minds are about such a wide array of things, including falsities and nonexistent things.

  • Only minds are about them so multiply, believing many things while desiring many other things, and so flexibly, at one moment about these, the next moment about those.

  • This more modest way of making the contrast is still consistent with folk psychology.

Belief is a mental state which would be pointless to have, were it not for its representing something. Since it's a prime instance of this aboutness, to focus on belief is to study the distinctiveness of the mind. Many philosophers think that this aboutness is the chief problem for philosophy today. So, however esoteric the discussion becomes as you read on, please recall that we're bringing into focus the core difference between minds and everything else, namely, their spectacular intentionality. As the pain grows, envision the gain. 

§3. Are these notes for you? 

"Pain"? My candor forces the question whether you should read this book. I address the professional research scholar in the next paragraphs, and the intermediate or advanced student in this one. Let's review the situation of the students among you. If you studied elementary logic and contemporary philosophy of mind conscientiously, you've come quite a way in your understanding of philosophical problems concerning the mind. You studied debates about the reduction of beliefs to brain states and behavioral dispositions. Yet you may still be mystified by some of the more advanced discussions, which concern how exactly the mind's intentionality differs from everything else we know of. These discussions mystify because of all their technical jargon and arcane appeals to people's ways of reporting each other's beliefs. You may have an inkling that there's some ongoing debate about how to think of beliefs even apart from questions of reductionism, but despair of ever finding an intelligible introduction to it. You're already beyond introductions like those in textbooks and popularizations. Your teachers assume more than you know, however, when they discuss the debate, so much more that you fear it would take a special tutorial to get yourself up to speed. Yet you'd like very much to acquire on your own the further background that would enable you to understand the original articles and more recent ones published in philosophy journals. Perhaps you might add your critical and creative insights to the debate. If that describes you, these notes are for you.

The hitch is that I do push my own views. Some prospective readers are professional philosophers specializing in this field, and now I address those of you who are experts. Since you've traveled from A to Z and back on these matters, are these notes for you? You may wish to know what position these notes take on the issues. Very well: The notes defend the view that there are relational desires and beliefs. They're distinct from notional ones, and they're objective and worthy candidates for scientific study. Contrary to what many philosophers assert, they're not attitudes toward singular propositions. Analogies to a similar distinction in modal logic are unrewarding in studying the anomalies that afflict them. The solution of the anomalies hints of ellipsis in the reporting of beliefs. The ellipsis is filled by a theory of the believer. Although I review much for the student with special attention to the most recent decade of publications (more than a quarter of the three hundred forty cited), I do propose some novelties. Perhaps one of the more original sections is section N, where I propose a theory of the believer that explains the interface between the intentional and the physical aspects of the believer. Also somewhat original are sections Q to U, where I propose that only names, no predicates, are symbols in the mind, and even they are distributed representations. Through linguistic analysis a picture unfolds of vestiges of the evolution of mentality. Indeed, a picture unfolds, explicitly in section Z, of a new kind of linguistic analysis, which reveals evolution. The most novel aspect of this view is that there's a dimension of philosophical analysis which is at once Wittgensteinian and evolutionary.

Otherwise I am syncretist" about the contents of beliefs, finding some truth in sententialism and also connectionism, some truth in various versions of representationalism and nonrepresentationalism, some truth in semantic internalism and also externalism. Concerning the project of naturalizing the mind, my position emerges slowly, as motivation for it mounts, that evolution is the key to fruitful naturalization. I apologize for the sudden cold splash of "-isms"; each one is defined in the text. See also the glossary for an explanation of words followed by a superscript caret,

In a nutshell, I've tried to combine the virtues of a textbook and a research monograph in the same book. "But what about the pain?" Oh, forget the pain; there's fun to be had along the way to achievement. Let's have fun. I joke and tease to pique your curiosity. I catch you up in a debate with a cliffhanger ending.

§4. "But where's the philosophy?" 

Young philosophers are eager to prescribe to us what we ought to believe; they have no patience for merely describing what we do believe. The course I follow in these notes is contrary to their impulses, because first we do the work of describing and only afterward the work of prescribing. Shouldn't we be thoroughly familiar with that which we propose to revise? It turns out to be tricky business acquiring that thorough familiarity.

Our study is part of what we may call a descriptive metaphysics of the mind. For we may think of folk psychology as a metaphysics or a science. (Of course, this is controverted, as is just about everything in philosophy. We'll begin Part II by considering the controversy over whether folk psychology is a theory of mental states.) I acknowledge that there's also a revisionary or prescriptive metaphysics of the mind, which corrects or adds to folk psychology. We'll examine one such, the naturalization of the mind, briefly at the end in Part IV. The naturalization project embraces a variety of metaphysical positions, but they all make contemporary science the gold-standard of knowledge at least, if not the whole of know-ledge. The project concerns folk psychology's coherence with science, whether it could be part of a scientific worldview and, if it could not as it stands, how much revision would make it so. All naturalizers agree that none of the mind's operations are exceptions to physical and chemical laws, however distinctive and unique the laws of those mental operations may be. The project of naturalizing the mind is part of a broader naturalism, which accepts only the ontology posited by the formal and empirical sciences' ideal comprehensive theory, and treats contemporary science as a reasonable guide to that. Using the words of its most famous critic (Kant), naturalism "asserts nature to be sufficient for itself." An alternative project for philosophy, namely, the Kantian project of investigating, without assuming any science, the conditions for the possibility of science, puts philosophy before science, whereas the naturalization project puts philosophy with science and after it. The two projects, like two suitors for the hand of Lady Philosophy, are rivals in contemporary philosophy. Not that Kantianism considers naturalism a worthy rival; its archrival is skepticism, and the two of them think they alone exhaust the Lady's prospects, deeming naturalism to be a loser from the start. How wrong they are. I'll say virtually nothing about the Kantian and skeptical projects.

Disagreement arises even among the naturalizers over what it would take to show that folk psychology can hold its own within the scientificworldview. Some of them are more revisionary than others. Some would even abandon intentionality. They explain amoebic activities without imputing intentionality to the amoeba; they accept the challenge to explain human activities without imputing it to human beings. Well, good luck to them! I'm one of the less revisionary; I favor a naturalization that keeps the mind that folk psychology describes.

Here's a preview of the less revisionary kind of naturalization I'll defend in Part IV. One aspect of it is synchronic and ahistorical; the other is historical and evolutionary. My thesis will be that folk psychology is consistent when judged according to both the historic and the ahistoric aspects of the naturalization of folk psychology, but it cries out for expansion and completion in these dimensions. Folk psychology makes sense, but it makes more sense with these two naturalizing dimensions added to it.

First the ahistorical aspect: Although I accept the view that folk psychology was developed by our cavemen ancestors, and it's now embedded in the forms of thought we inherited from them, I reject the inference that it's through and through a superstition. I don't commit myself to the opposite extreme view either, that folk psychology uncovers primary qualities of mind just as physics and chemistry uncover those of matter. There's a middle ground between these views, between the view that folk psychology reveals things as they are really and the view that it succumbs to total illusion. Consider the analogy to sensory perception: The secondary qualities," which our sensory systems give rise to, do contain scientific information about their stimuli, although they're not simulacra. There is a science of secondary qualities, namely that branch of physiological psychology called psychophysics. The science of intentionality would be a part of that science, if it's legitimate to generalize in the following way: As our eye and the light impinging on it interact to construct in consciousness the visual secondary qualities, e.g., the color brown, and as our ear and the compression waves in the air interact to construct in consciousness the auditory secondary qualities, e.g., timbre, so our brain and the organisms it perceives interact to construct in our consciousness the perceived organisms' secondary quality of possessing intentionality. If we thus generalize the idea of a secondary quality to cover imputed intentionality, then the intentionality of organisms would be rather like the brownness of some surfaces and the timbre of musical instruments. Representations that impute intentionality to an organism contain scientific information just as these secondary qualities do, information about the organisms and their environments. Also just as it would be hopeless and pointless to try to see in a way that avoided having to see brown, or to hear in a way that avoided

having to hear timbre, so it's hopeless and pointless to try to think of organisms in a way that avoids having to attribute intentionality to them. We might as well come to understand it better, secondary though it be.

The synchronic side of the naturalization project exploits the informational value of secondary qualities, but the theory of evolution helps us to achieve a more radical naturalization than the one the ahistoric or synchronic approach to naturalization would yield. For the synchronic approach has been schematic to the point of mere hand-waving. In contrast, relational beliefs and desires about oneself at the present moment will be revealed in these notes to be the primitive intentional states and a fundamental stratum of our own states. They'll be pivotal in their role at the frontier between the intentional and the physical. When Descartes pointed to the pineal body in the brain as the place where these two aspects of human beings interconnected, he did little to explain what was supposed to be going on there. I think our reflections on relational belief will put us in a position to say something insightful at long last about the interconnection. We'll then go further: The original contents of beliefs and desires were not linguistic; they were picture-like. After these primordial intentional elements were in place in organisms, mental names evolved, and only after all that's in place could public languages evolve. We'll reach these conclusions by a disciplined form of linguistic analysis which reveals traces of evolution and vestiges of the oldest forms of intentionality. Indeed by the end of these notes, not only will an evolutionary story of mentality have unfolded, but also a new evolutionary conception of analytic method for the advancement of the philosophy of mind.

Everything about folk psychology's portrayal of the mind betrays the fact that the mind is a product of evolution. The historical aspect of the naturalization of folk psychology exploits this insight. Folk psychology, in contrast, is not explicitly evolutionary; it presents the data in an ahistorical way, the human mind being at the apex of a scale of more or less mentality observed in other animals. The human mind's strata of capacities recapitulate some of that scale. When folk psychology is naturalized by taking evolution into account, it not only notes these layers of mentality; it explains the layering. It rejects any significant dichotomizing between mind and pre-mind, as an inappropriate ideal of precision for the kind of science it is, just as paleontology rejects as misconceived any search for Adam and Eve. Who's afraid of the sorites," the ever-popular offensive tactic of the dichotomizers? We're not.

Moreover the thesis that the human mind has evolved from more primitive forms of mentality not only affects the substance of folk psychology. It also affects the methods the philosophical analyst uses. Just as the Grand Canyon's strata reveal some of the previous two billion years of history, so the philosophical analyst will look for fissures in the mind that reveal earlier strata. (I reflect on this sort of analysis in section Z.) So my thesis about the naturalization project in both its ahistorical and historical aspects will be that folk psychology not only lends itself to naturalization, but it's rendered more coherent, more satisfyingly explanatory, and more scientific by being naturalized. And so is philosophical method. Patience, though; first comes the descriptive metaphysics. 

§5. The limits of our inquiry. 

The data are what we start from in our analyses. We don't just assert, defend, and criticize in philosophy, as if we were lawyers; we also look to phenomena, as scientists do, especially to puzzling or paradoxical phenomena to discover what more needs explaining. Some phenomena look indeterminate to us, and we must decide whether we're lacking acuity, or whether the indeterminacy is objective. Sometimes we have to decide whether there is a phenomenon or just a chimaera. Let's look and see what's there to be analyzed. Sections A to G do that; section H starts the theorizing.

How we look at the data affects how we theorize about them. While our theorizing should be constrained by our data, it should not be constricted by a tunnel-vision view of them. So we'll vary our perspective on the data, seeing them now according to one conceptualization of them and now according to another. This shifting of standpoints increases our logical space for theorizing, because it raises new questions and issues. We then can ask, which of the ways of taking the data leads to the most illuminating theory of them?

Our theorizing will disappoint you if you want a science of mental statics and dynamics, which would tell you how our mental states are in equilibrium or change, and what things would cause those changes. Sorry, but we'll be stuck with the preliminaries to such a science. We'll only deal with the structure of its elements. We do anatomy merely, the anatomy of belief and desire. "We murder to dissect." So, yes, unfortunately our analyses wreak of formaldehyde. That's to say, we're describing the ontology" of folk psychology merely: What's the nature of these characteristic items, the beliefs and desires which folk psychology is about, and is their nature such that one can theorize about them with scientific rigor?

To avoid the sense of being lost as you proceed, keep in mind the overall structure of these notes, which comes from four dichotomies. The distinction between descriptive and prescriptive theories we mentioned already. The contrast between theory and data should be familiar. The other two will be explained in later sections after some preparatory work:

  • The data we theorize about — Part I

  • The theories about the data.

  • Theories that are descriptive of folk psychology.

  • Theories of the nature of beliefs aboutness

  •  Part II Theories of the nature of beliefs directed-towardness

  • — Part Ill Representationalist theories of directed-towardness.

  • Nonrepresentationalist theories of directedtowardness.

  • Theories that are prescriptive and revise folk psychology — Part IV

The Structure Of The Mind: Outlines Of A Philosophical System by Francesco Belfiore (University Press of Americai Now retired, Belfiore (internal medicine, U. of Catania Medical School, Italy) presents a complete philosophical system solidly grounded on ontological bases, thus diverging from most of the philosophical literature of the last decades. He strives to dodge the charge that such complete system are a mixing of reason and imagination by following a strictly observational and inductive procedure, avoiding any unjustified assumption.

This book represents a unique attempt to restore a new-classical aspiration towards a philosophical system able to provide some certainties. Using the distinctive feature of presenting an original and complete philosophical system, author Francesco Belfiore diverges from the philosophical literature of the last decades, which has been ever more focused upon specific fields. Belfiore shows how failure to recognize this fundamental requirement of any philosophical inquiry has led to difficulties and misunder­standings in interpretation. Through his novel approach, Belfiore offers fresh solutions in the fields of ontology, knowledge, language, esthetics, politics and ethics.

In several respects, this is an unusual book. One of its main features is that it presents a complete philosophical system, solidly grounded on ontological bases, thus diverging from most of the philosophical literature of the last decades, that has been ever more focused upon specific fields. Although the latter ten­dency is based on the justified suspicion that philosophical "sys­tems" are creations obtained by mixing reason and imagination, rather than through a rigorous rational method, it has been my goal to build a philosophical system by following a strictly ob­servational and inductive procedure, avoiding any unjustified assumption.

It is my profound conviction that it is not possible to discuss a given section of philosophy without framing it into a general philosophical system or, in other words, it is impossible to know a certain subject without at the same time considering the place it has in the reality as a whole. Failure to recognize this fundamental requirement of any philosophical inquiry has led to diffi­culties and misunderstanding. This has happened, for instance, when systems such as language, numbers or formal logic, which are in fact mind-created, have been considered as autonomous entities.

On the other hand, the effort to cover several philosophical fields limits the details of the presentation, allowing only a synthesis of the various topics. Hence, the sub-title of this work, Outlines of a Philosophical System, which emphasizes that only a concise account has been given of the various issues. It is indeed my wish to develop each of the main sections of this book into a deeper and more extensive publication in the near future.

It has been my constant care to avoid technical terms and to write the text in as simple and easy-to-read a form as possible. I hope that, in addition to the variety of topics considered, the smoothness of the style will make this book enjoyable by a large audience.

The core content of this book was thought out several years ago and has been developed through the years in parallel with my official scientific and didactic duties as a professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Catania. Medicine is engaging and much demanding, as far as both the scientific research and the practical activity are concerned; consequently, writing this book has been delayed until the present time. When, many years ago, I had to decide which university course to follow, I was also much attracted by Philosophy. However, I eventually chose Medicine because it was (and still is) my opinion that, while philosophic studies can be pursued on a personal basis, the knowledge of the physical world, which is necessary to under-stand reality, cannot be gained without the help of public institu­tions that, in the case of Medicine, are the University laborato­ries and clinical wards. For these reasons, and not only because my academic career as medical researcher has been rewarding to me, I think I made the right choice; had I renounced to pursue studies in one of the natural sciences, I would have left myself with the regret of not having known enough. 

Like a Splinter in Your Mind: The Philosophy Behind the Matrix Trilogy by Matt Lawrence (Blackwell Publishers) (Hardcover) It’s the questions that drive us.

  • What is real?

  • How do you know what is real?

  • Can we be certain that we are not in a Matrix ourselves?

  • Does free will exist inside the Matrix? Does it exist outside the Matrix?

  • Are our minds just our brains?

  • Are sentient machines possible?

  • Is it ever best to take the blue pill?

  • It’s the questions that brought you here.

The Matrix films are not just about Kung Fu and special effects. Rather, they are about knowledge, reality, consciousness, freedom, fate, foreknowledge, good, evil, faith, enlightenment, and the very meaning of existence. In short, they are about philosophy – with some impressive special effects on the side.

Like a Splinter in Your Mind guides you through 13 of the core philosophical questions that are explored in the Matrix films. You’ll see how Morpheus manifests Kierkegaard’s philosophy of faith, how Neo, the Merovingian, and Ghost exemplify the three major positions on free will, how the objectivity of value judgments are challenged by Agent Smith, and much more.

Matt Lawrence brings a philosopher’s insight to all three of the Matrix films, giving us a better appreciation of the trilogy, and a solid grasp of key issues in metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, philosophy of mind, race and gender, existentialism, Taoism and mysticism. And while his focus is squarely on the films, he also shows us how these questions relate to our own lives and our own philosophical journeys. 

The Concept of Mind by Gilbert Ryle (University of Chicago Press) originally published in 1949, it has stood the test of time and fashion to become one of the 20th century’s most enduring contributions to refuting of carteisian mind/body dualism. Ryle was at one time much influenced by the earl­ier writings of Husserl, and had strong sympathies with the phenomenologists but closely identified with the characteristic doctrines of modern linguistic anal­ysis as when he suggested that the task of philosophy was “the detection of the sources in linguistic id­ioms of recurrent misconceptions and absurd the­ories.” In his Dilemmas: Tarner Lectures 1953 he devel­oped this position, suggesting that philosophical problems arose from apparent conflicts between general truths none of which we could sincerely abandon; the task of philosophy was therefore to resolve these apparent conflicts by an elucidation of the concepts which were used in stating these truths; philosophy was then essentially the dissolu­tion of dilemmas arising from our imperfect under­standing of our own conceptual apparatus. This position is akin to, but not identical with, that of the later Wittgenstein.

Ryle's best known work The Concept of Mind exemplifies this theory of the nature of philosophy. Ryle considers that the problems of the nature of mind and of the relation of the mind to the body arise from a misunderstanding of the concept of mind and the concepts of such mental "states" and "activities" as those of willing, thinking, imagining. We are inclined to construe the concept of mind as of an extra object situated in the body and control­ling it by a set of unwitnessable activities; this is what he calls the dogma of the ghost (the mind) in the machine (the body.) Ryle regards this picture as totally misleading and in a series of brilliant studies he attempts to disabuse us of it by showing that mental concepts refer not to ghostly acts but to dispositions to behave in certain ways in appropri­ate circumstances, to the style of actual witnessable performances and similar unproblematic matters. He protests vigorously that he is not putting for­ward a doctrine of behaviourism, not denying in any way the reality of the mental life, but only at­tempting to clarify the nature of the mental. But the work has often been attacked as behaviouristic and it has been suggested that Ryle at this stage had not wholly freed himself of the "reductive" tend­encies of the analytic methods of Russell. The Concept of Mind is a seminal work of philosophy, undermining reliance on the mind/body dualism so prevalent in academia for centuries. Ryle calls distinctions made by Descartes false, that the "official theory" is a categorical mistake.  

We make a category mistake when we mis­understand what kind of concept we are using or considering, as if we were to think that the Uni­versity of Oxford were something that we could visit in addition to the Colleges. To think of the mind as a hidden substance is such a category mis­take. This welcome reprint has an lively introduction by Daniel Dennett.

From Philosophy to Psychotherapy: A Phenomenological Model for Psychology, Psychiatry, and Psychoanalysis by Edwin L. Hersch (University of Toronto Press) A psychiatrist and psychotherapist in private practice, Hersch describes an approach to psychological theory that is based on the premises of phenomenological philosophy; argues that it is important, relevant, and inevitable for all theorists, clinicians, and students of psychology to deal with philosophy and its issues; and presents a systematic method for understanding the fundamental philosophical questions and issues that underlie all psychological theories.

From Philosophy to Psychotherapy has three stated objectives: First, to approach psychological theory in a new way based largely on the premises of phenomenological philosophy. This approach involves carefully and systematically examining a series of philosophi­cal issues or questions that are crucial and inescapable because they underlie all psychological theorizing. The goal is to develop a broadly based psychological model that is well grounded both philo­sophically and psychologically. This approach results in something of substantial clinical relevance, especially in terms of im­proving our understandings and practices in the field of psychotherapy.

Some basic assumptions that inform this constructive philosophy are philosophy is unavoidable, as we always operate from within a context of beliefs, presuppositions, and background understandings. The portion of that overall philoso­phy that pertains to a given professional or academic subject is one's theory. In this sense the state of 'having a theory,' is inescapable.  So it follows that practice without theory is not just blind (as Kant argued') but impossible. Likewise practice without acknowledged or conscious theory is blind (or at least has significant blind spots). Good psychotherapeutic practice is best grounded in good psychological theory (whether or not that theory is explicitly known to or acknowl­edged by the practitioner). Good psychological theory is best when it is consistent with, or well ground­ed in, good philosophical theory (again, whether or not these theories are explicitly known to or acknowledged by the practitioner). Good philosophical theory is best when it is most clear, explicit, conscious, and acknowledged.

Hersch does not argue that psychological practitioners cannot do good work without some level of philosophical sophistica­tion. The argu­ment is that each of these clinicians and theorists does indeed have an underlying theory, too, and if it seems to be working well it is probably a pretty good one, though perhaps poorly articulated. Hersch’s hypothesis is that its clear articulation makes those theories that much more open to conscious, thoughtful consideration, rigorous reflection, and further development, and ultimately help their adherents become even better at what they do.

In sum, Hersch is arguing that achieving a good, explicit grasp of one's overall, broadly defined theory (including its fundamental philosophi­cal assumptions) should be a very desirable goal for most psychological practitioners and theorists, even if they seem to have been able to manage reasonably well without it.

He takes the reader on a journey through the new model's development. This journey starts with the deeply philosophical roots of what Hersch calls the 'Beams-of-Light-through-Time model' and develops that model into a different way of looking at the general structure and context of human experience. After this Hersch ventures deeper into the realm of 'praxis' and a set of new understandings of a variety of clinical phenomena encountered in the psychotherapy situa­tion. Some significant reinterpretations of traditional psychotherapeu­tic concepts are to follow from this model. Finally, Hersch shows how such a model can be applied in the practice of psychotherapy, and how it can offer us some significant advantages or alternatives to previ­ous models.

Hersch wants to demonstrate, for all theorists, clinicians, and students of psychology, the importance and relevance — indeed, the inevitability — of dealing with philosophy and its issues. To this end, Hersch presents a palatable introduction to some of the philosophical issues most relevant to these people in their own work. He discusses complex philosophical matters in such a way as to make them as accessible, interesting, understandable, and 'user friendly' as possible to those who are not professional philosophers.

As a corollary, Hersch  trys to demonstrate for this same audience the importance, relevance, and clinical significance of philosophical 'self-knowledge,' and to provide some systematic means for undertak­ing a pursuit of that knowledge. As we proceed along this journey, Hersch  encourages us to look at our own thinking and perhaps our own tacit philosophical assumptions.

Hersch  attempts to present a method for psychological thinkers to approach systematically the fundamental philosophical questions and issues that underlie all psychological theories. To this end, he presents a frame-work for organizing, explicating, and critically evaluating these essen­tial philosophical questions and one’s theories about them. Hersch calls this approach the 'Hierarchy of Levels of Theoretical (or Philo­sophical) Inquiry Method.' Toward the end of this book, Hersch examines and compare several major contemporary psychological theories by utilizing his new method. Included are 'hierarchical sketches' of such theories as those of Classical Psychoanalysis, Object Relations Theory, Self Psychology, Intersubjectivity Theory, Constructionism, Behaviorism, Cognitive Psychotherapy, and Biological Psychiatry. The newly developed Beams-of-Light-through-Time model is presented in this comparative manner, so to allow for ready evaluation.

Throughout From Philosophy to Psychotherapy, Hersch argues that without a systematic, comprehensive, and rigorous approach to dealing with the very rel­evant philosophical matters that underlie our psychological theories, we in the psychological field tend to adopt positions on those matters that remain at only an implicit level of awareness. Learning to reflect carefully on our philosophical assumptions may therefore help psychologists to better 'know our philosophical selves,' and 'make our philosophical unconscious more conscious.'

In this opening chapter Hersch introduces the hierarchical method and describes its various philosophical questions, along with the levels of inquiry at which they are seen to apply. The remaining chapters are organized so that each is dedicated to a particular level of inquiry. The ten chapters that follow fall into four main sections. The first of these deals with the bottom-most layers of the hierarchy (i.e., the most fundamental ones), referred to as the ontological level of inquiry. The three sections after that deal with the following: general epistemology, field-specific epistemology, and psychology. Each of the first three sections has two chapters devoted to it. The final one has four chapters.

In the early chapters Hersch builds up a new psychological model on a foundation of phenomenological philosophy. By chapter 8, the first chapter of the last section, the new model is sufficiently developed that it can be described as a general psychological model pertaining to 'the general context of human experience.' In chapter 9 Hersch applies the model more directly and specifically to the theory and practice of psychotherapy; this will involve a reexamination of some of that field's central concepts, as well as more extensive use of case material. Chapter 10 introduces some concepts taken from the philosophical literature, such as the notions of 'bad faith' and 'authenticity'; these may also prove useful in psychotherapeutic work. Chapter 10 goes on to illustrate an application of the new model through a longer case study, one that for comparative purposes has been conceptualized in both the traditional manner and the newly developed one. Chapter 11 presents a series of 'hierarchical sketches' that try to summarize and characterize the overall philosophical stances of a variety of major contemporary psychological theories in accordance with the hierarchical framework used throughout From Philosophy to Psychotherapy.  This way of proceeding allows the reader to make ready comparisons among the philosophical positions adopted by these various psychological approaches; it also further demonstrates how one can extend such work to other theories as well, including one's own.
Throughout the book Hersch keeps in mind the clinical relevance of such issues, especially to the realm of psychotherapy. Case material is used to illustrate various points, especially as we proceed farther up the hierarchy toward the most obviously psychological levels.
In developing this new psychological model Hersch emphases the works of the twentieth-century phenomenological philosophers. That is partly because their approach has been enormously useful for Hersch in some ways, but also because their approach can benefit from the sort of structured development Hersch here offers in this work. Hersch thinks that the methodological approach he employs in this book — including its hierarchy of philosophical issues and questions — can apply equally well to any general philosophical approach. Hersch’s approach is in no way meant to be restricted to a phenomenological perspective or school of thought. Though Hersch does provide a caveat that values and ethics are implicit within all levels of his constructive ontology and epistemology, I think his constructive phenomenological project would have been enhanced by a fuller consideration of the phenomenological position of Emmanuel Levinas’ morality as first philosophy. Recognizing that for self-understanding to be integral, one must begin not with the so-called foundations of ontology and epistemology but with the human nexus of ethics as the entire plan before there is any constructive enterprise. Ethics as prior to metaphysics may smack to some as importing a teleological position back into philosophy but rather it is setting a relevant context for the philosophy to remain balanced between subject object relations, and a means of linking these relations to human worth and value. Still Hersch has provided a fine constructive attempt to make the philosophical presuppositions of psychotherapy  practice more systematically intelligible.

Philosophy and Neuroscience: A Ruthlessly Reductive Account by John Bickle (Studies in Brain and Mind, Volume 2: Kluwer Academic) is the first book-length treatment of philosophical issues and implications in current cellular and molecular neuroscience. John Bickle articulates a philosophical justification for investigating "lower level" neuroscientific research and describes a set of experimental details that have recently yielded the reduction of memory consolidation to the molecular mechanisms of long-term potentiation (LTP). These empirical details suggest answers to recent philosophical disputes over the nature and possibility of psycho-neural scientific reduction, including the multiple realization challenge, mental causation, and relations across explanatory levels. Bickle concludes by examining recent work in cellular neuroscience pertaining to features of conscious experience, including the cellular basis of working memory, the effects of explicit selective attention on single-cell activity in visual cortex, and sensory experiences induced by cortical microstimulation. This final chapter poses a challenge both to "mysterians," who insist that empirical science cannot address particular features of consciousness, and to cognitivists, who insist that addressing consciousness scientifically will require experimental and theoretical resources that go beyond those used in neuroscience's cellular and molecular core.
Bickle develops all scientific and philosophical concepts in detail, making this book accessible to specialists, graduate students, and advanced undergraduates in either philosophy or the empirical brain and cognitive sciences. Philosophers of science, mind, neuroscience, and psychology, neuroscientists working at a variety of levels, and cognitive scientists-or anyone interested in interactions between contemporary philosophy and science and the nature of reduction-in-practice that informs current mainstream neuroscience-will find discussions pertinent to their concerns.

“If you thought reductionism about the mind was dead, think again: you may find John Bickle's vigorously and powerfully argued Philosophy and Neuroscience a real eye-opener. His guiding idea is that the proof of reductionism is in the track record of reductionist research strategies in neuroscience, in explaining mentality and behavior - and even qualitative consciousness itself. And Bickle does not disappoint: he serves up a veritable feast of reductionist success stories, from deep down in cellular and molecular neuroscience. Some of the details he describes will amaze, and perhaps also delight, you. Bickle's discussion is invigorating as well as philosophically sophisticated, and his knowledge of current research in neuroscience is impressive indeed. The writing is clear, brisk, and refreshingly straightforward, and the book brims with enthusiasm and optimism. This is the latest salvo from the reductionist side, and a mighty one it is! It may not win the battle outright for reductionism, but it is going to change the shape and terms of the debate to come. A must read for those interested in the issues of psychoneural reduction and reductionism, and highly recommended to anyone with a broad interest in the philosophy of mind and psychology.” Jaegwon Kim, Brown University

The Problem of the Soul: Two Visions of Mind and How to Reconcile Them by Owen Flanagan (Basic Books) The illusions we must give up--concerning free will, personal identity, and the existence of the soul--and the (surprisingly rich) ideas we can keep.

Traditional ideas about the basic nature of humanity are under attack as never before. The very attributes that make us human--free will, the permanence of personal identity, the existence of the soul--are being undermined and threatened by the current revolution in the science of the mind. If the mind is the brain, and therefore a physical object subject to deterministic laws, how can we have free will? If most of our thoughts and impulses are unconscious, how can we be morally responsible for what we do?

The Problem of the Soul shows the way out of these seemingly intractable paradoxes. Framing the conflict in terms of two dominant visions of the mind--the "manifest image" of humanistic philosophy and theology, and the scientific image--renowned philosopher Owen Flanagan demonstrates that there is, in fact, common ground, and that we need not give up our ideas of moral responsibility and personal freedom in order to have an empirically sound view of the human mind.

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