Volume 19, Number 2, Spring
States of Consciousness and Symbolic Cognition
Joseph Glicksohn, Bar-Ilan University
The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Spring 1998, Vol.19, No. 2, Pages 105—118, ISSN 0271—0137
Consciousness6 carries the connotation of a state of consciousness (Natsoulas, 1997). It is an emergent property of a gestalt phenomenon, namely the psychophysiological state of the organism (Glicksohn, 1993a). In this article, I extend my previous discussion of states of consciousness (consciousness6), embedding this within the wider perspective of both Gestalt psychology and psychoanalytic ego psychology. Gestalt notions, such as Prägnanz and microgenesis, are shown to be highly relevant to this theme. Natsoulas’ (1997) recent appraisal of my viewpoint has goaded me into reiterating the argument for looking at a qualitative change in thought, characterizing the shift in consciousness6, as being a promising area for further development. This hypothesized change in mode of thinking is of a metaphoric—symbolic nature, what such authors as Hunt (1989a) and Haskell (1989) would term symbolic cognition. I discuss the relationships among perceptual experience, symbolic cognition and state of consciousness, concluding with some comments on Natsoulas’ reservations.
Requests for reprints should be sent to Joseph Glicksohn, Ph.D., Department of Criminology, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, 52100, Israel. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Easy and Hard Problems of Consciousness: A Cartesian Perspective
Frederick B. Mills, Bowie State University
The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Spring 1998, Vol.19, No. 2, Pages 119—140, ISSN 0271—0137
This paper contrasts David Chalmers’s formulation of the easy and hard problems of consciousness with a Cartesian formulation. For Chalmers, the easy problem is making progress in explaining cognitive functions and discovering how they arise from physical processes in the brain. The hard problem is accounting for why these functions are accompanied by conscious experience. For Descartes, the easy problem is knowing the essential features of conscious experience. The hard problem is verifying our knowledge of the mathematical—physical world. While Chalmers admits that consciousness as subjective experience has something irreducible about it, he also presupposes that conscious experience arises from physical processes. These physical processes are posited as objectively real entities given prior to human experience. The knowledge of such entities is assumed without theoretical justification. This assumption arguably invites a reductive materialist theory of mind. I suggest that employing the Cartesian method to articulate the representational theory of knowledge provides an antidote to reductive materialism and illuminates the conceptual gap between physical processes and conscious experience. To illustrate this I contrast Dennett’s heterophenomenology with the Cartesian method of crossing the conceptual gap. I suggest that the hard problem is attaining a knowledge of the extra-mental physical objects, not of conscious experience.
Requests for reprints should be sent to Fred Mills, Ph.D., Bowie State University, Department of History and Government, 14000 Jericho Park Road, Bowie, Maryland 20715—9465. Email: email@example.com
Thomas Natsoulas, University of California, Davis
The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Spring 1998, Vol.19, No. 2, Pages 141—176, ISSN 0271—0137
Direct (reflective) awareness, or the immediate, on-the-spot, noninferential access that we have to some of our mental-occurrence instances, is a kind of “secondary consciousness.” It often happens, in addition, that direct (reflective) awareness itself is conscious, meaning that one is also directly (reflectively) aware of being so aware. This is “tertiary consciousness.” Indeed, absent tertiary consciousness, one could not base actions on what is mentally occurring to one now. Although Armstrong held that “subliminal introspection” suffices for purposive mental activity, tertiary consciousness would seem to be necessary for carrying out such activity because purposive mental activity essentially involves choosing what mentally to do next on the basis of “introspective” feedback. One must be aware of whatever it may be that one is basing one’s actions on. Adopting, in place of “subliminal introspection,” either one of two Jamesian hypotheses could save Armstrong from having to posit nonconscious purposive mental activities.
Requests for reprints should be sent to Thomas Natsoulas, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, California 95616—8686. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Foundation Walls that are Carried by the House: A Critique of the Poverty of Stimulus Thesis and a Wittgensteinian—Dennettian Alternative
Wendy Lee—Lampshire, Bloomsburg University
The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Spring 1998, Vol.19, No. 2, Pages 177—194, ISSN 0271—0137
A bedrock assumption made by cognitivist philosophers such as Noam Chomsky, and, more recently, Jerry Fodor and Steven Pinker is that the contexts within which children acquire a language inevitably exhibit a irremediable poverty of whatever stimuli are necessary to condition such acquisition and development. They argue that given this poverty, the basic rudiments of language must be innate; the task of the cognitivist is to theorize universal grammars, languages of thought, or language instincts (respectively) to account for it. My argument, however, is that this assumption is philosophically suspect in that it assumes an untenably Cartesian conception of “stimulus” which itself presupposes a rigid dualism of subject-user and context and hence confuses the underdetermination of stimulus for its lack. I argue that the former does in fact provide the necessary conditions for language acquisition. I then go on to develop a Wittgensteinian—Dennettian model within which underdetermination plays a key role.
Requests for reprints should be sent to Wendy Lee—Lampshire, Ph.D., Department of Philosophy, 219 Bakeless Center for the Humanities, Bloomsburg University, Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania 17815.
Dynamic Interactionism: Elaborating a Psychology of Human Possibility and Constraint
Jack Martin and Jeff Sugarman, Simon Fraser University
The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Spring 1998, Vol.19, No. 2, Pages 195—214, ISSN 0271—0137
We elaborate the kind of metaphysical, ontological arguments and positions put forth by Martin and Sugarman (1996) in several ways, in an attempt to clarify that it is the assumption of psychological and sociocultural entities as fixed ontological categories that makes psychological—sociocultural dualism problematic, not the necessary distinction it draws between sociocultural and psychological processes. In so doing, we develop an emergent, mutable metaphysics and ontology for psychological and sociocultural processes that emphasizes their dynamic interrelation. We then attempt to articulate and defend a neorealist hermeneutics as a viable epistemological accompaniment to this dynamic, interactionist metaphysics, and to indicate its appropriateness to psychological inquiry in particular.
Requests for reprints should be sent to Jack Martin, Ph.D., Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada V5A 1S6.
On Behaviorism, Theories, and Hypothetical Constructs
Jay Moore, University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee
The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Spring 1998, Vol.19, No. 2, Pages 215—242, ISSN 0271—0137
The present paper explores some of the characteristics and implications of the approach to scientific theories and theoretical concepts that developed under the auspices of mediational S—O—R neobehaviorism during the middle of the present century. Of special interest is the evaluation of scientific theories and theoretical concepts, notably “hypothetical constructs” and “intervening variables,” in terms of realism, instrumentalism, and pragmatism. The paper argues that many contemporary behavioral theorists who embrace the aforementioned approach often fail to understand the verbal processes by which scientific verbal behavior develops. The result is an unfortunate confusion of epistemological principles that does not adequately distinguish among realism, instrumentalism, and pragmatism.
Requests for reprints should be sent to Jay Moore, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201.