[hist-analytic] Mele on Effective Intentions Pt. 1
scott.holbrook at gmail.com
Sun Feb 6 23:19:01 EST 2011
I guess I'd be curious to know what was meant by "a percept that makes
sense" (let alone the "production" of it). Surely, if this phrase is to be
of any use to neurophysiologists (or an *empirical* anything), it must be
quantifiable in some way, i.e., there must be units of "sense." (At the
very least, there must some measurable quantity that aggregates into
"sense...so here maybe serotonin is a good example. There is no unit of
happiness (despite what economists say) yet, when enough serotonin gets
released, people are happy).
And then of course, the question about how the brain knows what "makes
sense" would arise. It's hard to imagine such a thing being 'hardwired'
Are we talking about e.g., when you listen a foregin language, you "hear"
words from your own? (e.g., the Thai word for 'have' is 'me' but I still
find myself thinking of a first person pronoun whenever I hear it. It gets
even worse when they string pronoun-y words together: "my me nam"- 'No have
water' (There is no water)) But this just seems to be an issue of
familiarity, of habit, almost. In this case, "percept that makes sense"
sounds more like "something I am comfortable with." But why should
producing "something I am comfortable with" be the teleological aim of
brains processes (which is certainly how you described the position, brain
processes "struggle" towards the goal of "producing a percept that makes
I have to side with Steve. Such claims seem scientifically "suspect," to
say the least (I thought we had purged teleolgical explanations around the
time of the Modern Philolosophers).
On Sat, Feb 5, 2011 at 2:02 AM, Danny Frederick <
danny.frederick at btinternet.com> wrote:
> Hi Steve,
> Actually, I was not thinking of Kant but of work in empirical
> psychology/neurophysiology, which shows that our perceptions are a
> 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
> in cases which are particularly difficult to construe.
> Further, perception is only one part of cognition. The conscious testing
> 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.
> From: hist-analytic-manager at simplelists.com
> [mailto:hist-analytic-manager at simplelists.com] On Behalf Of
> Baynesr at comcast.net
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> effort. Even interpreting our perceptions is an active process.
> Is an ‘executive intention’ another name for an act of volition? If so,
> not just say so? If not, then how is it different?
"Conventional people are roused to fury by departures from convention,
largely because they regard such departures as a criticism of themselves."
-- Bertrand Russell
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