Vol. 23, Number 4, Autumn
Missing the Experiential Presence of Environmental Objects: A Construal of Immediate Sensible Representations as Conceptual
The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Autumn 2002, Volume 23, Number 4, Pages 325–350, ISSN 0271–0137
McDowell (1998) does not succeed in his effort toward accounting for the wonder of nature that the experiential presence of environmental objects is, owing to his exclusive attention to the conceptual capacities involved. Thus, he construes immediate sensible representations to be involuntary actualizations of conceptual capacities exercised in judging and speech. Only in possessing propositional contents to the effect of being caused to occur by their respective objects, are immediate sensible representations proposed to differ from thoughts evoked by their objects, and claimed to be phenomenologically colored. Implying the actualization of a perceptual capacity distinct from the conceptual capacities about which he explicitly speaks, McDowell attempts to compensate for his self-limited conceptual resources by asking us to imagine how the subject directs firsthand the mental counterpart of there to the immediate environment. Insisting that, intrinsically, an immediate sensible representation is a relation to its object, McDowell seeks to capture thereby the object’s experiential presence sans having to enrich his conception of perceptual awarenesses beyond the fact of their having certain conceptual contents. However, repeatedly, the immediate sensible representations are declared to be conceptual shapings of sensory consciousness. This characterization of them amounts only to a reassuring slogan at this point. Indeed, the sensory consciousness that is purported to be shaped is not even identified. But, if, along with this characterization, there comes a recognition that immediate sensible representations are, on every occasion of their occurrence, actualizations of both conceptual and perceptual capacities, we may have a key to how to explain experiential presence.
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.
It has been suggested that the quantum fluctuations of the microworld may constitute or be caused by an elementary consciousness in nature that could be the source of brain-mind consciousness as well. This essay explores the possibility that the espoused quantum consciousness, when the identity “localized quantum fluctuations” ≡ “conscious force classically manifested” is assumed, extends upward into the macroscopic world of classical physics via the “classical approximation” of the Ehrenfest theorem. Newton’s laws of motion then define localized forces of consciousness that are psychogenic rather than mechanistic, which are immanent, intentional, and self-directed. In this quantum-inspired, idealist reinterpretation of classical physics, gravitational, electrical and other fields in space-time are information supplied rather than force applied, to which matter’s psychogenic forces purposefully and lawfully respond. Consciousness and change (fluctuation, oscillation, flow, movement, etc . . . ) are then an identity, whether the change is quantum (and non-local) or classical (and local) in character. The calculus of Newton and Leibniz in this quantum idealism is of and by conscious beings, rather than blind mechanisms. When consciousness is thus understood, our being is a more ordered form of matter ensouled by psychogenic forces explained by more refined systems of physics.
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The contents of perceptual experience, it has been argued, often include a characteristic “non-conceptual” component (Evans, 1982). Rejecting such views, McDowell (1994) claims that such contents are conceptual in every respect. It will be shown that this debate is compromised by the failure of both sides to mark a further, and crucial, distinction in cognitive space. This is the distinction between what is doubted here as mindful and mindless modes of perceiving: a distinction which cross-classifies the conceptual/non-conceptual divide. The goal of the paper is to show that there can be both mindful personal level perceptual experiences whose content cannot be considered conceptual — pace McDowell (1994) — and that there are mindless personal level perceptual experiences whose content cannot be considered — pace Evans (1982) — non-conceptual. The resulting picture yields a richer four dimensional carving of the space of perceptual experience, and provides a better framework in which to accommodate the many subtleties involved in our sensory confrontations with the world.
Requests for reprints should be sent to Josefa Toribio, Ph.D., Department of Philosophy, Sycamore 026, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana 47405. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
J.L. Austin (1975) described speech acts as utterances which are themselves actions, and not simply descriptions of actions or states of affairs. It is suggested that emotions are also actions, and not simply results of actions. Emotions may be conceived as attunements in the phenomenological tradition, as means of experiencing the world. Understood as attunements, emotions are actions in the sense that they do not simply result from appraisal processes or social constraints, but are themselves our engagements with the world. Three insights into the nature of emotion achieved through the comparison of speech acts and emotions are discussed: (1) emotions may best be studied as acts, and not as elements such as cognitive appraisals, characteristic feeling states, or states of physiological arousal which often accompany emotions; (2) the study of emotions as acts may best be viewed as an exercise in uncovering rather than discovering knowledge; and (3) emotions are commitments to world views and, as such, are susceptible to moral evaluation.
Requests for reprints should be sent to Matthew Spackman, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Brigham Young University, 1001 SWKT, Provo, Utah 84602. Email: email@example.com.
Autonomous Agents: From Self-Control to Autonomy
Liberation from Self: A Theory of Personal Autonomy
The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Autumn 2002, Volume 23, Number 4, , Pages 413–416, ISSN 0271–0137
[Note: First paragraph, no abstract available.] Autonomy is a central concept for several different branches of philosophy, notably ethics and political philosophy. While hardly a neglected topic, it remains both controversial and difficult. The two books under consideration have the potential to be important contributions to the literature.
Requests for reprints should be sent to Requests for reprints should be sent to Christian Perring, Ph.D., Department of Philosophy, Dowling College, Idle Hour Blvd, Oakdale, New York 11769. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Three Challenges to Ethics: Environmentalism, Feminism, and Multiculturalism
The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Autumn 2002, Volume 23, Number 4, Pages 419–420, ISSN 0271–0137
[Note: First paragraph, no abstract available.] James Sterba has written a provocative and tightly argued essay intriguingly titled, Three Challenges to Ethics: Environmentalism, Feminism, and Multiculturalism. He attempts to demonstrate that traditional Western ethics is in trouble on three major fronts. The environmentalists, the feminists, and the multiculturalists are not just on the horizon, he warns. They have already landed. Their swords are drawn against what Sterba sympathetically agrees are major flaws in Western ethical thinking.
Requests for reprints should be sent to to Paul Carrick, Ph.D., Department of Philosophy, P.O. Box 404, Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania 17325. Email: email@example.com.