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2015 - Volume 36, Numbers 1 and 2, Winter and Spring

A Radical Embodied Approach to Lower Palaeolithic Spear-making
Duilio Garofoli, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

It has been argued that spear manufacture at Schöningen around 400 kya required abstract thought and in-depth planning of a kind associated only with fully modern humans. The argument, however, lacks detailed analysis of these cognitive capabilities. In this paper I shall provide such an analysis for the production of spears and show that no qualitatively modern cognitive advancement is required to realize this technology. Situated strategies grounded in re-enacting perceptual simulations are sufficient to obviate the need for any modern form of abstraction in explaining the evidence. This embodied perspective is further radicalized in favor of direct perception, enactivism, and intuitive artifact interaction in order to eliminate any explanatory role for mentalistic plans in both the invention and social transmission of the spear technology. A set of radical embodied cognitive abilities is also sufficient to account for other Acheulean tools, obviating any grounds for qualitative advances in cognition. The enactive integration of stone tools in the perceptual system of Homo heidelbergensis, coupled with an increase of information processing capacity, are quite sufficient quantitative augmentations to the capabilities of earlier hominids. The explanations advanced here are nonetheless consistent with a set of classic and innovative theories in cognitive archaeology.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Duilio Garofoli, Zentrum für Naturwissenschaftliche Archäologie, Abt. Paläoanthropologie. Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Rümelinstrasse, 23, 72070 Tübingen, Germany, or Research Center “The Role of Culture in Early Expansions of Humans” of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Senckenberg Research Institute, Senckenberganlage 25, 60325 Frankfurt/M, Germany. Email: duilio.garofoli@uni-tuebingen.de

Is That Me? Sense of Agency as a Function of Intra-psychic Conflict
Travis A. Riddle, Columbia University, Howard J. Rosen, University of California, San Francisco, and Ezequiel Morsella, San Francisco State University and University of California, San Francisco

The sense of agency is based on several cognitive processes, including the perception of a lawful correspondence between action intentions and action outcomes. We hypothesize that this sense is also modulated by intra-psychic conflict, such that urges (e.g., to smoke) conflicting with current goals (e.g., to not smoke) tend to be perceived as foreign to the self, as captured by the “monkey on one’s back” metaphor describing aspects of addiction. Accordingly, in two classic response interference paradigms, participants perceived the activation of plans as less associated with the self when the plans conflicted with intended action than when the same plans led to no such interference. Intra-psychic conflict influenced the sense of agency in a dynamic and contextualized fashion. In both paradigms, response interference was associated with weakened perceptions of control and stronger perceptions of competition. These findings illuminate aspects of self-control, volition, and the cognitive construction of the self.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Ezequiel Morsella, Ph.D., 1600 Holloway Avenue, EP 301, Department of Psychology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California 94132–4168. Email: morsella@sfsu.edu

Forms of Momentum Across Time: Behavioral and Psychological
Timothy L. Hubbard, Fort Worth, Texas

The behavior of an organism often exhibits biases consistent with an anticipation of future behavior. One such type of bias results in momentum-like effects in which past behavior is extrapolated or continued into the future, and examples include behavioral momentum and psychological momentum. Similarities and differences between behavioral momentum and psychological momentum are considered. It is suggested that (a) behavioral momentum and psychological momentum are closely related and reflect similar or overlapping mechanisms despite differences in experimental methodologies and nomenclatures, (b) behavioral momentum and psychological momentum reflect dynamic representation, (c) dynamic representation can operate across several different time-scales, and (d) behavioral momentum and psychological momentum might be related (via processes involved in dynamic representation) to other types of momentum-like effects.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Timothy L. Hubbard, Ph.D., Institute of Mind and Behavior, PO Box 522, Village Station, New York, New York 10014. Email: timothyleehubbard@gmail.com

Singular Thought: The Division of Explanatory Labor
Andrei Moldovan, University of Salamanca

A tacit assumption in the literature devoted to singular thought is that singular thought constitutes a unitary phenomenon, and so a correct account of it must encompass all instances. In this essay, I argue against such a unitary account. The superficial feature of singularity might result from very different deep-level phenomena. Following Taylor (2010) and Crane (2013), I distinguish between the referential fitness and the referential success of a thought. I argue that facts responsible for referential fitness (e.g., mental files or individual concepts), as well as facts responsible for referential success (e.g., acquaintance conditions on referential success), are relevant in explaining the data pertaining to a theory of singular thought. What makes this approach particularly attractive is that there are good independent reasons to introduce both kinds of facts in theorizing about thought.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Andrei Moldovan, Departamento de Filosofía, Lógica y Estética, Universidad de Salamanca, Edificio F.E.S. Campus Miguel de Unamuno, 37007, Salamanca, Spain. Email: mandreius@usal.es

Critical Notices

Waking, Dreaming, Being: Self and Consciousness in Neuroscience, Meditation, and Philosophy
Book Author: Evan Thompson. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014, 496 pages, $32.95 hardcover
Reviewed by Michel Bitbol, CNRS/Ecole Normale Supérieure (Archives Husserl), Paris

Consciousness is like no other object of study. In fact, it is no object at all, but rather the precondition for anything to be taken as an object of attention or thought. This unique status makes it very unlikely that ordinary, one-dimensional, objectifying strategies of research may bring much light to the nature and origin of consciousness (at least if these strategies are used in isolation). Consciousness must be approached from within, at least as much as from without, from the midst of lived experience, at least as much as from an objective scientific vantage point. Consciousness must be apprehended from where it is, not only from where one hopes to contemplate it. Prioritizing this lived, embodied, approach to consciousness is the program of phenomenology, as Edmund Husserl and his lineage defined it. Articulating the lived domain of phenomenology with the scientific study of objective correlates of mental structures, and buttressing the study of one onto the study of the other, is the extended program of neurophenomenology as developed by Francisco Varela. Some philosophers of mind also advocated such a balanced attitude, by prescribing a triangulated approach to consciousness (Flanagan, 1993) or a “reflective monist” theory of consciousness (Velmans, 2009). But, unlike neurophenomenologists, they did so shyly since they fell short from prescribing an extensive methodology of first-person inquiry, and adopted a kind of non-committal metaphysical standpoint instead.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Michel Bitbol, Archives Husserl, Ecole Normale Supérieure, 45, rue d’Ulm, 75005 Paris, France. Email: michel.bitbol@ens.fr

Wittgenstein and Natural Religion
Book Author: Gordon Graham. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014, 219 pages, $55.00 hardcover
Reviewed by Richard Eldridge, Swarthmore College

Once upon a time, a number of philosophers both influenced by Wittgenstein and interested in religion argued that ontological commitments are at best secondary within religious life. What is instead of primary importance is whether there is anything meaningful in religious practice, that is, in what religious people say and do. As D. Z. Phillips put it,

“To ask whether God exists is not to ask a theoretical question. If it is to mean anything at all, it is to wonder about praising and praying; it is to wonder whether there is anything in all that …‘There is a God,’ though it appears to be in the indicative mood, is an expression of faith” (1976, p. 181).

This stance has the virtue of not condescending to ordinary pious worshippers from a position of assumed intellectual authority (often scientific) with respect to ontological questions that are taken — or mistaken, Phillips argues — by the opponents of religion to be both addressable apart from practices of worship and crucial to religious life.  Sadly, that kind of condescension is found, for example, in Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion (2006) and Christopher Hitchens’ God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (2009). Both these writers focus primarily on reference and existence, and they (mis)take materialism for granted as a metaphysical stance that is mandated by modern science. Neither makes a serious effort to imagine what non-idolatrous religious people might mean by what they say and do. Happily, Phillips and other religious thinkers influenced by Wittgenstein have avoided this condescension.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Richard Eldridge, Ph.D., Philosophy Department, Swarthmore College, 500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania 19081. Email: reldrid1@swarthmore.ed


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