Topic: philosophy of mind

topics > Group: philosophy

natural language
relationship between brain and behavior

abstraction as part of language
beliefs and propositional attitudes
intelligent machines
limitations of artificial intelligence and cognitive science
natural language as a system
natural language as action or problem solving
people better than computers
reality is a machine
problem of other minds
self-regulating systems
sense perception
skepticism about knowledge
symbolic representation
thought is computational
Turing test
vitalism, the soul
words in natural languages


We think of things, of objects and features, instead of undifferentiated stimuli. The philosophy of mind concerns how it is that we think, and what are its characteristics. Consciousness, intentionality, subjective experience play an important role. Our experience of the world is clearly a subjective one that is understood in terms of our intentions and our expectations about others. We can use our intentions to predict future events. Our mind is a whole while everything else has components.

Mental phenomena could be just a result of living, but it certainly appears as both cause and effect. Maybe mind is really many types of phenomena. There is recognition, coordinated behavior and spatial orientation, memory, and language. There's education and training. Maybe the structure of mind is reflected in external reality, e.g., in the history of science.

Mind could also be symbolic, like a computer despite a very different structure. Searle's answer is that then you would lose all meaning. My answer is that symbolic activity is derived from language instead of the other way around. (cbb 5/94)

Subtopic: language as mind up

Quote: Aristotle established the words: subject, predicate, form, matter, energy, potential, substance, essence, quantity, quality, accidental, relation, cause, genus, species, individual, indivisible [»loreMP19_1997]
Quote: people distinguish classes via short descriptions; using language specific to those classes; brevity is achieved without lose of information [»bongM_1967]
Quote: the classification of ideas is the true basis on which words (the symbols of ideas) should be classified; a basis for the philosophy of language [»rogePM_1853, OK]
Quote: keeping modifier near the modified thing is a property of our minds; not a rule of English [»mitcR_1979]

Subtopic: signs and objects as fundamental up

Quote: perception is organized into objects and features, not undifferentiated shapes; consciousness is of something as such and such [»searJR_1992]
Quote: thinking is essentially the activity of operating with signs [»wittL_1958]
Quote: thought processes abstract information to a skeleton of relevant features [»smitDC6_1975]
Quote: a gestalt is an organization of elements; like a rhythm [»dreyHL_1979]
Quote: our universe is not chaos; we perceive and name beings and objects that have stable structures [»thomR_1975]
Quote: we can be self-deceived about how Thingish something is [»mckeWM_1970]
Quote: man hath set up a visible mark, which when seen again, may bring to mind the original thought; like a rock at sea [»hobbT_1650, OK]

Subtopic: mind vs. body up

Quote: the mind is distinct from the body because the body is always divisible but the mind is indivisible [»descR_1641]
Quote: soul is man's primary being and the body is his material; man is both body and soul; as is animals [»aris_322a]
Quote: vital principles do not change the course of motion; motion is part of the pre-established order of nature [»leibGW5_1705]
Quote: bodies follow the laws of motion; souls follow their own laws about good and evil
Quote: pre-established harmony--bodies and souls correspond to each other like perfectly regulated clocks
Quote: the pre-established harmony of souls and bodies proves the existence of God; this universal agreement requires a general cause of infinite power and wisdom [»leibGW5_1705]
Quote: the system of occasional causes needs a perpetual miracle to adapt the thoughts of the soul to the impressions of the body

Subtopic: mind as body up

Quote: the nature of mind is physical as shown by real weapons and tangible blows [»lucr_55]
Quote: the organs require the body; a hand, or eye, or nose, if separate and free, would melt with decay [»lucr_55]
Quote: although flesh contains the mind, mind and flesh are closer bound than contents and container
Quote: mind stays true to type; if the mind was deathless and changeable, deer might attack hounds, hawk flee doves, man lack logic [»lucr_55]
Quote: brains cause minds; i.e, every mental event is caused by specific neurons firing in specific neural architectures [»searJR1_1990]
Quote: the soul is the Form of a living body [»aris_322b]
Quote: the soul is not separable from the body; is the soul as the sailor of a boat or the actuality of a body [»aris_322b]

Subtopic: free will, intentionality up

Quote: the mind-body problem is difficult because of consciousness, intentionality, subjectivity, and mental causation; can not deny these [»searJR_1984]
Quote: human action has a mental, intentional component and a physical component; it is explained by intentional causation [»searJR_1984]
Quote: the experience of freedom of choice is an intrinsic part of intentional action; can not be given up [»searJR_1984]
Quote: to duplicate a behavior, need to know the intentions behind it; e.g., painting (random) numbers 18, 73, 21, 4 on your forehead [»ziffP_1960]
Quote: radical freedom of will is impossible under a scientific world view
Quote: we have foreknowledge of the future in predicting one's own voluntary movements [»wittL_1958a]
Quote: intentional, human actions are either premeditated or they are spontaneous, e.g., normal conversation [»searJR_1984]
Quote: the preferred description of intentional action is determined by the intentions that caused it; not like other, natural events [»searJR_1984]
Quote: intentional states only function as part of a network of intentions that determines the conditions of satisfaction [»searJR_1984]
Quote: the network of intentionality functions against a background of human capacities that are not themselves mental states; e.g., driving [»searJR_1984]
Quote: practical knowledge is what is possible through free will [»kantI_1781, OK]
Quote: can only employ probability for the occurrence of individual processes; free choice between stationary states; like radioactive decay [»bohrN_1934]
Quote: freedom of will and causality are idealizations; both concern the relation between subject and object which forms the core of the problem of knowledge [»bohrN_1934]
Quote: Skinner's avoidance of intentional idioms in psychology is too extreme; use intentional terms provisionally and eventually design a mechanism to replace them [»dennDC_1978]
Quote: psychological theory can not rest on intentional terms; otherwise it presupposes the very thing it is explaining

Subtopic: mental phenomena as derivative up

Quote: there need not be a mental process of thinking, hoping, etc. independent of expressing a thought, a hope, etc. [»wittL_1958]
Quote: everyday activity does not involve self-referential mental content; being-in-the-world is primary; mental-state intentionality is derivative [»dreyHL_1991]
Quote: subjectivity may exist independently of a public world or it may arise out of dispersion in the public world
Quote: mental phenomena appear to cause physical results; if not, then the mind doesn't matter, like froth on a wave [»searJR_1984]

Subtopic: behavioral criteria for mind up

Quote: behavioral criteria for mind are insufficient; e.g., a device that includes all possible English conversations up to some length [»vangR_1992]

Subtopic: reason up

Quote: mind is a soul with reason
Quote: human reason stands in need of discipline to expose the illusions which it originates; this discipline is exercised by reason alone [»kantI_1781, OK]
Quote: all philosophy of pure reason is purely negative; it guards against error but does not lead to the discovery of new truth
Quote: any canon for employing the faculty of pure reason will relate to the practical use of reason and not to its speculative use [»kantI_1781, OK]
Quote: moral laws alone belong to the sphere of the practical exercise of reason
Quote: moral laws admit of a canon of absolute imperatives derived through pure reason

Subtopic: reasoning as symbols up

Quote: reason is nothing but adding and subtracting the consequences of general names; marking when we think, and signifying when we communicate [»hobbT_1651, OK]
Quote: Boole investigated the fundamental laws of thought with a symbolic language, applied it to probabilities, and discussed the consequences [»boolG_1854, OK]
Quote: all of reasoning may be conducted by symbols, operations, and identity; closely related to algebra [»boolG_1854, OK]

Subtopic: meaning up

Quote: computer programs are syntactical, only minds have semantics and meanings; e.g., Chinese room [»searJR_1984]
Quote: syntax is not sufficient for semantics; the mental contents of human minds [»searJR1_1990]
Quote: to follow a rule, the meaning of the rule must have a causal role; behavior itself is insufficient (many possible rules) [»searJR_1984]
Quote: practical reasoning is about choosing between conflicting desires; beliefs are about how to satisfy our desires [»searJR_1984]

Subtopic: perception up

Quote: perception is a simple substance that cannot be explained mechanically. Imagine entering a thinking machine. Many parts impinge on one another but none are the perceptions [»leibGW_1679]
Quote: perception yields knowledge of the external world; i.e., existents other than myself and my states

Subtopic: consciousness up

Quote: the psyche is that in virtue of which something is alive [»aris_322b]
Quote: can experimentally separate the mental component of action from the physical component; e.g., by stimulating the motor cortex [»searJR_1984]
Quote: human actions have preferred descriptions; what someone does is what they think they are doing; e.g., walking to Hyde Park [»searJR_1984]
Quote: people generally know what they are doing and can explain the behavior of others, perhaps through mastery of a set of principles [»searJR_1984]
Quote: functionalism treats mental states as causes of behavior; a mental event is a network of causal relations between inputs, outputs, and states [»vangR_1992]
Quote: identify conceptual schemes with languages and the soul; can languages be non-translatable [»daviD11_1974]
Quote: life and consciousness are inseparable [»bohrN_1934]

Subtopic: emotion up

Quote: emotion is closely tied to its bodily symptoms; the trembling lips of fear, the flushed face of rage [»jameW_1890, OK]

Subtopic: memory up

Quote: memory is a mechanism for generating current performance based on past experience, not an inventory of mental states [»searJR_1992]
Quote: memories are gestalts recalled from a subpart; ambiguities resolved statistically
Quote: short-term memory may hold pointers to previously stored memories; can not hold unencoded images [»sowaJF_1984]
Quote: a new situation invokes a frame from memory; includes expectations and assumptions; modify as needed [»winoT_1986]

Subtopic: development of mind up

Quote: spatial orientation, recognition memory, and language use different mentalities; e.g., Piaget's water pouring experiment [»lindO_1992]
Quote: does mental structure develop naturally like a garden, through education like a team, or by design like a machine [»engeDC_1963]
Quote: Poincare--study the history of science to learn about the development of minds; like 'embryology recapitulates phylogeny' [»lakaI_1976]

Subtopic: messy mind up

Quote: the full mind's program is practically unknowable; huge, branchy, not formal, a kludge [»cherC5_1988]
Quote: the logics and mathematics in the brain must be structurally very different from known languages; because of imprecision [»vonnJ_1958]
Quote: it is difficult to understand the soul [»aris_322b]

Related Topics up

Group: natural language   (16 topics, 539 quotes)
Group: psychology   (9 topics, 307 quotes)
Group: relationship between brain and behavior   (9 topics, 332 quotes)

Topic: abstraction as part of language (18 items)
Topic: beliefs and propositional attitudes (28 items)
Topic: consciousness (58 items)
Topic: intelligent machines (28 items)
Topic: limitations of artificial intelligence and cognitive science (64 items)
Topic: memory (12 items)
Topic: natural language as a system (43 items)
Topic: natural language as action or problem solving (29 items)
Topic: people better than computers (35 items)
Topic: reality is a machine (48 items)
Topic: phenomenology (37 items)
Topic: problem of other minds (11 items)
Topic: psychiatry (3 items)
Topic: recognition (50 items)
Topic: self-regulating systems (23 items)
Topic: sense perception (55 items)
Topic: skepticism about knowledge (34 items)
Topic: symbolic representation (26 items)
Topic: thought is computational (60 items)
Topic: Turing test (13 items)
Topic: vitalism, the soul (73 items)
Topic: words in natural languages
(40 items)

Updated barberCB 1/06
Copyright © 2002-2008 by C. Bradford Barber. All rights reserved.
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