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2011 - Volume 32, Number 2, Spring

Function, Modality, Mental Content: A Response to Kiritani

I clarify some of the details of the modal theory of function I outlined in Nanay (2010): (a) I explicate what it means that the function of a token biological trait is fixed by modal facts; (b) I address an objection to my trait type individuation argument against etiological function; and (c) I examine the consequences of replacing the etiological theory of function with a modal theory for the prospects of using the concept of biological function to explain mental content.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Bence Nanay Ph.D., Peterhouse, Cambridge University, Cambridge, CB2 1RD, United Kingdom. Email: bence.nanay@ua.ac.be

Modality and Function: Reply to Nanay

This paper replies to Nanay’s response to my recent paper. My suggestions are the following. First, “should” or “ought” does not need to be deontic. Second, etiological theories of function, like provability logic, do not need to attribute modal force to their explanans. Third, the explanans of the homological account of trait type individuation does not appeal to a trait’s etiological function, that is, what a trait should or ought to do. Finally, my reference to Cummins’s notion of function was intended to note that the homological account is permitted to use this non-etiological notion of function.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Osamu Kiritani, Ph.D., New England Institute for Cognitive Science and Evolutionary Studies, University of New England, Portland, Maine 04103. Email: okiritan@nifty.com

Semantikos: Understanding and Cognitive Meaning
Part 1: Two Epistemologies


Traditional epistemology has had an overriding emphasis since Descartes upon knowing, certainty, and truth, said to be obtained through cogitation. An alternative epistemology would emphasize cognitive meaning, ambiguity, and meaninglessness within a presumptive scheme of semantiks, in contrast to the gnostic Cartesian model. Thereby cognition becomes naturalized and intelligible within the framework of biological evolution, in which species-characteristic forms of intelligence may be seen to unfold through phylogeny. Both scientific advance and pedestrian reasoning may be fruitfully interpreted by this novel focus upon cognitive meaning devoid of any epistemic function professedly providing psychological or objective “certainty.” Objective rationality as a whole may be seen to emerge solely from the operations of understanding itself within individual and cultural contexts. Suggestions are given as to the structure and dynamics of comprehension that generate species-characteristic forms of cognitive meaning.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Mark Crooks, Institute of Mind and Behavior, P.O. Box 522, Village Station, New York City, New York 10014.
Email: platopenhauer@yahoo.com or crooksma@msu.edu

Scientific Knowledge-Building and Healing Processes
Jean-Pierre Courtial, University of Nantes

Scientific knowledge-building is the consequence of a relational process, not of an utilitarian socio-economic process. Translation theory expresses the way in which science is constructed and used as a social link. In fact, translation theory contends that scientific knowledge is somehow governed by the logic of exchange. This logic of exchange would ultimately be the source of science and well being and characterize the way in which science and technology work in our contemporary world especially regarding healing processes through mobilising a kind of hidden energy.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Jean-Pierre Courtial, Laboratoire de Psychologie, Université de Nantes, BP 81 227, 44 312 Nantes, France.
Email: jean-pierre.courtial@univ-nantes.fr

Attention and Working Memory in Mindfulness–Meditation Practices
Heather Buttle, Massey University

The construct of “mindfulness” has increasingly become a focus of research related to meditation practices and techniques. There is a growing body of research indicating clinical efficacy from therapeutic use, while cognitive neuroscience has provided an insight into the brain regions and mechanisms involved. Significantly, these approaches converge to suggest that attention is an important mechanism with trainable sub-components. This article discusses the role of attention and argues that memory has been neglected as a potential key mechanism in mindfulness–meditation practices. Specifically, it proposes that working memory offers a useful model for integrating and understanding the different mental devices that are used in meditation and suggests a model with the potential to provide a comprehensive account of how the apparent benefits of these practices arise. This call for a more comprehensive and integrated approach is necessary if the study and application of meditation are to become more than a parochial concern.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Heather Buttle, Ph.D., School of Psychology, Massey University, Private Bag 102 904, North Shore Mail Centre, Auckland, New Zealand. Email: h.buttle@massey.ac.nz

Evolutionary Theories of Schizophrenia: An Experience-Centered Review
James McClenon, Virginia Beach Psychiatric Center

The ongoing incidence of schizophrenia is considered a paradox, as the disorder has genetic basis yet confers survival handicaps. Researchers have not reached consensus regarding theories explaining this contradiction. Major evolutionary theories hypothesize that schizophrenia is: (1) a byproduct of other evolutionary processes, (2) linked to survival advantages that counteract disadvantages, (3) associated with processes such as shamanism conferring advantages to groups, (4) a consequence of modern environments, (5) a result of random processes, such as mutations. A null hypothesis argues that philosophical or methodological problems render evolutionary paradigms inappropriate. These arguments are reviewed in light of an experience-centered approach, which regards experiential accounts as data. A ritual healing theory, derived from this orientation, has bearing on evolutionary theories pertaining to schizophrenia. This theory explains the nature of shamanism, which has features coinciding with schizophrenia. The ritual healing theory is supported by folklore, medical, and anthropological evidence, is amenable to empirical evaluation, and has clinical applications.

Requests for reprints should be sent to James McClenon, Ph.D., LCSW, Virginia Beach Psychiatric Center, 1100 First Colonial Road, Virginia Beach, Virginia 23454. Email: beinghere@hotmail.com

Book Reviews

The Spiritual Anatomy of Emotion
Book Authors: Michael A. Jawer with Marc S. Micozzi. Rochester, Vermont: Park Street Press, 2009, 558 pages, $24.95 paperback.

Reviewed by Joseph Glicksohn, Bar-Ilan University

Not many books are reviewed twice in the same Journal. The recent review of The Spiritual Anatomy of Emotion by Gruber (2010) is very thorough. My review is driven by a number of common interests that find expression in the book, coupled with a degree of reservation (given our different research backgrounds and training).

Requests for reprints should be sent to Joseph Glicksohn, Ph.D., Department of Criminology, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan 52900, Israel. Email: jglick@bgu.ac.il

Lab Coats in Hollywood: Science, Scientists, and Cinema
Book Author: David A. Kirby. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2011, 264 pages, $27.95 hardcover.

Reviewed by Jeff Schmerker, Missoula, Montana

This winter, my wife Laura went to see The King’s Speech with her friend, Jen, a speech therapist who works in a general practice with a wide variety of patients. The movie stars Colin Firth as King George VI of England, who has a speech impediment but has to give a very important radio broadcast — the one that tells Britons they are going to war with Germany. The King is helped by Lionel Logue, an Australian speech
therapist played by Geoffrey Rush. More than once during the movie, as the doctor helped the king, Jen leaned over to Laura. “This,” she whispered, “is the same thing I do today.”

Requests for reprints should be sent to Jeff Schmerker, 600 West Kent Avenue, Missoula, Montana, 59801. Email: redpinecanyon@yahoo.com

The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood
Book Author: Jane Leavy. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2010, 480 pages, $27.99 hard.

Reviewed by Steven E. Connelly, Indiana State University

Mickey Mantle displayed awesome power. Fans and fellow players alike marveled at his prodigious feats at the plate, but just as breathtaking as his monumental home runs and blazing line drives was the mysterious force he wielded over fans. Mantle was magic: in his prime he was the very image of the ideal baseball player. He had power, speed, and a strong arm. With it all came an aw-shucks grin that was a perfect counterpoint to any menace his strength might have suggested. Perhaps his teammate Eli Grba summed his aura up best, comparing Mantle to the chorale from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Mickey Mantle was a human Ode to Joy. Of course he was flawed: physically and emotionally he was all but crippled. Still, he was a hero, and like all heroes he inspired simultaneous idealization and vilification.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Steven E. Connelly, Ph.D., Department of English, Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Indiana 47809. Email: steven.connelly@indstate.edu


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