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1989 - Volume 10, Number 1, Winter

Consciousness and the Incompleteness of the Physical Explanation of Behavior
Avshalom C. Elitzur, Weizmann Institute of Science
The Journal of Mind and Behavior , Winter 1998, Vol. 10, No. 1, Pages 1-20, ISSN 0271-0137
All theories attempting to solve the mind-body problem on the basis of a scientific world-view assume that the present framework of physics is, in principle, a sufficent basis for a complete causal explanation of behavior. From this assumption follows another assumption, nameley, that consciousness is a completely passive phenomenon, devoid of any causal role. These two assumptions were hitherto considered impossible to prove or disprove. In this article I review the theories based on the passivity assumption and stress their rationales. I claim, however, that there is one instance in which behavior cannot be explained without assigning a causal role to consciousness. The argument is then generalized: a causal influence of consciousness, in addition to all known physical forces, is claimed to underlie other modes of behavior as well. Possible objections to this argument are encountered and answered. The issue is further discussed in connection with evolution, artificial intelligence and thermodynamics.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Avshalom Elitzur, Department of Chemical Physics, Weizmann Institute of Science, 76 Rehovot, Israel.

Experimental Semantics: The Lexical Definitions of “Prejudice” and “Alcoholic”
William T. O’Donohue, University of Maine and Indiana University
The Journal of Mind and Behavior , Winter 1989, Vol. 10, No. 1, Pages 21-36, ISSN 0271-0137
Experimental semantics is a behavioral approach to linguistic meaning. The lexical meaning of a word is sought by experimentally investigating the relationships between the word and antecedent stimulus conditions. The relevance of experimental semantics to science is briefly examined. Experiments are reported which investigated the lexical meanings of two psychological terms, “prejudice” and “alcoholic.” The following conditions were found related to the occurence of “prejudice”: (1) the epistemic status of the statement, and (2) the nature of the relationship between the typically empowered and unempowered groups mentioned in the statement. The following conditions were found related to the occurence of “alcoholic”: (1) a pattern of pathological alcohol use, (2) impairment in social or occupational functioning due to alcohol use, (3) tolerance to alcohol, and (4) withdrawal. It is concluded that the degree of systematicity of language and the particular relations between limguistic units and antecedent stimulus conditions can be assessed using this experimental approach to semantics.

Address correspondence to William O’Donohue, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Maine, Orono, Maine 04469.

The Distinction Between Visual Perceiving and Visual Perceptual Experience
Thomas Natsoulas, University of California, Davis
The Journal of Mind and Behavior , Winter 1989, Vol. 10, No. 1, Pages 37-62, ISSN 0271-0137
Among the visual perceptual system’s modes of functioning is the activity of visual perceiving, also called straightfoward seeing, which keeps the perceiver in touch with the world. When the visual system is functioning in this highly adaptive mode, the system produces, and includes as part of it, a stream of visual perceptual experience (awareness). The latter is both a kind of consciousness and an ongoing process in the brain (or cerebral hemisphere; see commissurotomy and hemispherectomy). Absent all visual perceptual experience, the proximate product of the activity of visual perceiving would be simply the visual system’s continuously embodying picked-up information from the stimulus flux at the visual receptors. This changing informational status of the visual system could still affect behavior, in the absence of visual perceptual experience; however, the perceiver could not base his or her actions on what was being visually perceived, since no one would be visually aware of anything when visual perceiving was going on. Thus, missing would be a major adaptational payoff of there having evolved a visual perceptual system of the human kind (which other creatures may also share).

Requests for reprints should be sent to Thomas Natsoulas, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis, California 95616.

An Examination of Four Objections to Self-Intimating States of Consciousness
Thomas Natsoulas, University of California, Davis
The Journal of Mind and Behavior , Winter 1989, Vol. 10, No. 1, Pages 63-116, ISSN 0271-0137
In a recent article, I raised the question whether any state of consciousness, or instance of a mental occurrence of which its possessor is directly (reflectively) aware, is self-intimating. A state of consciousness would be self-intimating if its possessor was directly (reflectively) aware of it due simply to its occurrence and without his or her having any awareness of it that is distinct from its occurrence. Critically examined in the present article are the following four objections to self-intimating conscious states. (a) David M. Rosenthal has objected that there is no good reason to uphold the idea that our direct (reflective) awareness of an occurrence of a mental state is a part of that occurrence, as opposed to being a higher-order thought about the occurrence that the occurrence immediately produces. (b) D.M. Armstrong has objected that a state of consciousness and direct (reflective) awareness of it are “distinct existences” on the grounds, in effect, that the functional roles of these two mental occurrences are mutually incompatible and cannot be performed by any one mental occurrence. (c) Wilfrid Sellars has in effect objected that the primary candidate for self-intimating states of consciousness, namely sensory states (or instances of sensory consciousness), are not even awarenesses let alone awarenesses of themselves. (d) Reinhardt Grossmann objected against Franz Brentano’s self-intimational conception of direct (reflective) awareness that, if a conscious act of hearing actually had itself as its intentional object, the subject of the act of hearing would hear his or her act of hearing. Brentano himself had formulated a version of Grossmann’s objection, to the effect that a self-intimating act of hearing a single sound would perforce include two auditory experiences of the sound. I present Brentano’s own defense against this objection. In my view, the early and facile demise of self-intimating states of consciousness has been exaggerated.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Thomas Natsoulas, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis, California 95616.

Causal Isomorphism: A Concept in Search of a Meaning; Complementarity and Psychology
Douglas M. Snyder, Berkeley, California
The Journal of Mind and Behavior , Winter 1989, Vol. 10, No. 1, Pages 117-122, ISSN 0271-0137
Unresolved technical issues regarding Kirsh and Hyland’s notion of causal isomorphism are discussed. It is demonstrated that their deduction of causal isomorphism is based on an incorrect understanding of physics. The recent development of complementarity in psychology advanced independently by three sets of psychological researchers is compared to Bohr’s idea of complementarity in physics. The formulations of the psychological researchers differ from Bohr’s notion concerning whether mutually exclusive descriptions of some entity or process can exist simultaneously. The concepts of complementarity in psychology incorporate notions of simultaneity and time that are based on the intrinsic relation of the person to the world, whether this world is that of psychological or physical phenomena. Bohr’s notion, on the other hand, relies on an objective character of the physical world as the foundation of simultaneity and time.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Douglas M. Snyder, Ph.D., P.O. Box 228, Berkeley, California 94701.

Book Reviews

Dreams and the Search for Meaning
Book Author: Peter O’Connor. New York and Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Pres, 1986
Reviewed by Matthew C. Brennan, Indiana State University
The Journal of Mind and Behavior , Winter 1989, Vol. 10, No. 1, Pages 123-126, ISSN 0271-0137
[Note: First paragraph, no abstract available.] As with his two previous books, Peter O’Conner expects Dreams and the Search for Meaning to draw fire for its lack of an empirical, scientific foundation. But as he says in his Preface, he has not set out to prove anything, and in fact finds the concern of logical positivists with proof irrelevant to the analysis of dreams: because he believes dreams must be approached like works of art, O’Connor aims not only “to engage the reader in an imaginative act” but also to combat the disease of literality. Ultimately, O’Connor maintains that by considering dreams as open-ended symbols, dreamers can turn empty events into experiences charged with significance and thereby can heal their psychic wounds. Although O’Connor does not attempt a comprehensive, authoritative study, he nevertheless cogently summarizes the key concepts of Jung’s model of the unconscious, as well as the seminal ideas about dreams of such figures as Artemidorus and Freud. But O’Connor goes beyond merely rehashing received opinion. What makes Dreams especially interesting and valuable is that O’Connor modifies and amplifies Jung by partly reconciling Freud’s ideas to Jung’s and by supporting his theories with vivid dreams well-chosen from his clinical practice.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Matthew C. Brennan, Ph.D., Department of English, Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Indiana 47809.

By Silence Betrayed: Sexual Abuse of Children in America
Book Author: John Crewdson. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1988
Reviewed by Steven E. Connelly, Indiana State University
The Journal of Mind and Behavior , Winter 1989, Vol. 10, No. 1, Pages 127-130, ISSN 0271-0137
[Note: First paragraph, no abstract available.] John Crewdson’s By Silence Betrayed may be a groundbreaker. It is a thorough, lucid investigation of the sexual abuse of children in America, and it is clearly a book aimed at the general public. The problem of child sexual abuse, as Crewdson demonstrates, has been so effectively buried that awareness of its magnitude generally has been limited to child protection workers – who have for years tried vainly to call attention to the horrifying depth of this problem, a problem often buried in the pasts or the subconscious minds of the victims, and for countless reasons rarely exhumed: the victim’s shame, guilt, or sense of responsibility; the fear of reprisal from an abuser seen by the abused child as an authority figure; the belief – unfortunately too often proved true – that the victim would not be believed.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Steven E. Connelly, Ph.D., Department of English, Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Indiana 47809.

The Weary Sons of Freud
Book Author: Catherine Clement. London and New York: Verso, 1987
Reviewed by Michael Walsh, University of Harford
The Journal of Mind and Behavior , Winter 1989, Vol. 10, No. 1, Pages 131-134, ISSN 0271-0137
[Note: First paragraph, no abstract available.] Those North American intellectuals who resist the influence of recent French thought will sometimes propose that the ideas of such figures as Althusser, Foucault, Derrida, Lyotard, and Lacan are meaningful only within the context of their native culture. Such an argument is sometimes phobic, often reactionary, and usually easy to dismiss. Yet in reading Catherine Clement’s The Weary Sons of Freud (a translation somewhat lacking in the dash of the original Les Fils De Freud Sont Fatigues) we may find ourselves meditating nonetheless on the extent to which each national culture is marked by its own discursive idiosyncracies, its own peculiarly extended discussions and debates. I say this because the basic project of Clement’s book is to demolish a target that can barely be said to exist in English-speaking cultures; the weary sons are those psychoanalysts influenced by Lacan who have abandoned the clinic and the concept of the cure in order to devote themselves to writing theoretically showy studies of culture.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Michael Walsh, Department of English, University of Hartford, West Hartford, Connecticut 06117.

 

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