[hist-analytic] Mele on Effective Intentions Pt. 1

Danny Frederick danny.frederick at btinternet.com
Fri Feb 4 14:02:07 EST 2011

Hi Steve,


Actually, I was not thinking of Kant but of work in empirical
psychology/neurophysiology, which shows that our perceptions are a creative
product of the brain which struggles to make sense of stimuli and tests
different hypotheses in trying to produce a percept that makes sense.
Admittedly the agent is not consciously aware of this groping and
experimenting in most cases, though conscious effort seems to come into play
in cases which are particularly difficult to construe.


Further, perception is only one part of cognition. The conscious testing of
alternative hypotheses, which we all do to some extent, though scientists
make point of it, is plainly an active process, requiring individual
initiative and decisions.








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Sent: 04 February 2011 16:55
To: hist-analytic
Subject: Re: Mele on Effective Intentions Pt. 1



Sensations for Kant, just to take one example, are material effects. The
mind for Kant,, e.g., becomes active only in *working up perceptions* or
empirical intuitions from those sensations according to rules determined by
the categories of the pure understanding. The active mind becomes involved
only at the level of judgment and concepts. Sensations, for Kant, are not
empirical intuitions. The distinction is subtle but depends on the
difference between the active and the passive mind. Also, if you restrict
sense data to qualia in a realist ontology, similarly, sense data become the
effects of material or other causes. Being the "effects" the subject is
passive in relation to them. The causes "active" by contrast. This is the
traditional view. I think you can find this in Aristotle who places
sensations at the "bottom" of the cognitive "line."

'Volition' is a term of art. It rarely, if ever, receives the same
definition among action theorists. However, for Mele an "occurrent
intention" may be considered something like a volition, but we'll have to
see what he does with "volition." Answering the second half of your question
would require a few dozen pages even if we restrict ourselves to a single
philosopher. I recommend in this regard a close look at the relevant section
on the Will in James's Psychology vol. II. The best thing ever written on
the subject after Aristotle'; then Bradley (who is the unrecognized genius
in such matters).



----- Original Message -----
From: "Danny Frederick" <danny.frederick at btinternet.com>
To: "hist-analytic" <hist-analytic at simplelists.co.uk>
Sent: Friday, February 4, 2011 8:43:13 AM
Subject: RE: Mele on Effective Intentions Pt. 1

Hi Steve,


Just a couple of comments.


How can cognitive properties be passive? Understanding anything requires an
effort. Even interpreting our perceptions is an active process.


Is an 'executive intention' another name for an act of volition? If so, why
not just say so? If not, then how is it different?




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