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new book – ‘The Measure of Madness: Philosophy of Mind, Cognitive Neuroscience, and Delusional Thought’ by Philip Gerrans

July 12, 2014

The Measure of Madness

The Measure of Madness: Philosophy of Mind, Cognitive Neuroscience, and Delusional Thought (Life and Mind: Philosophical Issues in Biology and Psychology) by Philip Gerrans (Bradford Book/MIT, 2014)

(amazon.co.uk)

Book description from the publisher:

In The Measure of Madness, Philip Gerrans offers a novel explanation of delusion. Over the last two decades, philosophers and cognitive scientists have investigated explanations of delusion that interweave philosophical questions about the nature of belief and rationality with findings from cognitive science and neurobiology. Gerrans argues that once we fully describe the computational and neural mechanisms that produce delusion and the way in which conscious experience and thought depend on them, the concept of delusional belief retains only a heuristic role in the explanation of delusion.

Gerrans proposes that delusions are narrative models that accommodate anomalous experiences. He argues that delusions represent the operation of the Default Mode Network (DMN) — the cognitive system that provides the raw material for humans’ inbuilt tendency to provide a subjectively compelling narrative context for anomalous or highly salient experiences — without the “supervision” of higher cognitive processes present in the nondelusional mind. This explanation illuminates the relationship among delusions, dreams, imaginative states, and irrational beliefs that have perplexed philosophers and psychologists for over a century. Going beyond the purely conceptual and the phenomenological, Gerrans brings together findings from different disciplines to trace the flow of information through the cognitive system, and applies these to case studies of typical schizophrenic delusions: misidentification, alien control, and thought insertion. Drawing on the interventionist model of causal explanation in philosophy of science and the predictive coding approach to the mind influential in computational neuroscience, Gerrans provides a model for integrative theorizing about the mind.

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new book – ‘The Innocent Eye: Why Vision Is Not a Cognitive Process’ by Nico Orlandi

July 8, 2014

The Innocent Eye

The Innocent Eye: Why Vision Is Not a Cognitive Process (Philosophy of Mind Series) by Nico Orlandi (Oxford University Press, 2014)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

Why does the world look to us as it does? Generally speaking, this question has received two types of answers in the cognitive sciences in the past fifty or so years. According to the first, the world looks to us the way it does because we construct it to look as it does. According to the second, the world looks as it does primarily because of how the world is. In The Innocent Eye, Nico Orlandi defends a position that aligns with this second, world-centered tradition, but that also respects some of the insights of constructivism. Orlandi develops an embedded understanding of visual processing according to which, while visual percepts are representational states, the states and structures that precede the production of percepts are not representations.

If we study the environmental contingencies in which vision occurs, and we properly distinguish functional states and features of the visual apparatus from representational states and features, we obtain an empirically more plausible, world-centered account. Orlandi shows that this account accords well with models of vision in perceptual psychology — such as Natural Scene Statistics and Bayesian approaches to perception — and outlines some of the ways in which it differs from recent ‘enactive’ approaches to vision. The main difference is that, although the embedded account recognizes the importance of movement for perception, it does not appeal to action to uncover the richness of visual stimulation.

The upshot is that constructive models of vision ascribe mental representations too liberally, ultimately misunderstanding the notion. Orlandi offers a proposal for what mental representations are that, following insights from Brentano, James and a number of contemporary cognitive scientists, appeals to the notions of de-coupleability and absence to distinguish representations from mere tracking states.

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See also: Author’s website

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new book – ‘The Escape of the Mind’ by Howard Rachlin

June 9, 2014

Escape of the Mind

The Escape of the Mind by Howard Rachlin (Oxford University Press, 2014)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

The Escape of the Mind is part of a current movement in psychology and philosophy of mind that calls into question what is perhaps our most basic, most cherished, and universally accepted belief–that our minds are inside of our bodies. Howard Rachlin adopts the counterintuitive position that our minds, conscious and unconscious, lie not where our firmest (yet unsupported) introspections tell us they are, but in how we actually behave over the long run. Perhaps paradoxically, the book argues that our introspections, no matter how positive we are about them, tell us absolutely nothing about our minds. The name of the present version of this approach to the mind is “teleological behaviorism.”

The approaches of teleological behaviorism will be useful in the science of individual behavior for developing methods of self-control and in the science of social behavior for developing social cooperation. Without in any way denigrating the many contributions of neuroscience to human welfare, The Escape of the Mind argues that neuroscience, like introspection, is not a royal road to the understanding of the mind. Where then should we look to explain a present act that is clearly caused by the mind? Teleological behaviorism says to look not in the spatial recesses of the nervous system (not to the mechanism underlying the act) but in the temporal recesses of past and future overt behavior (to the pattern of which the act is a part).

But scientific usefulness is not the only reason for adopting teleological behaviorism. The final two chapters on IBM’s computer, Watson (how it deviates from humanity and how it would have to be altered to make it human), and on shaping a coherent self, provide a framework for a secular morality based on teleological behaviorism.

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new book – ‘Minding the Brain: A Guide to Philosophy and Neuroscience’ by Georg Northoff

May 25, 2014

Minding the Brain

Minding the Brain: A Guide to Philosophy and Neuroscience by Georg Northoff (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)

(amazon.co.uk)

Book description from the publisher:

This book explores how the relationship between philosophy and the brain can inform neuroscience, the mind-brain problem and debates about consciousness. Written in a lively style with extensive pedagogy to explain complex concepts, this is interesting reading for students and researchers of psychology, neuroscience and philosophy.

Table of Contents:
Introduction
PART I: MIND AND BRAIN – FROM PHILOSOPHY THROUGH NEUROSCIENCE TO NEUROPHILOSOPHY
1. Philosophy and the Mind – Philosophy of Mind and Phenomenology
2. Philosophy and Science – Naturalism
3. Mind, Brain and Science – Psychology and Neuroscience
4. Brain and Philosophy – Neurophilosophy
PART II: MIND-BRAIN PROBLEM – FROM PHILOSOPHY OF MIND TO PHILOSOPHY OF BRAIN
5. Mental Approaches to the Mind-brain Problem
6. Physical and Functional Approaches to the Mind-brain Problem
7. Non-mental and Non-physical Approaches to the Mind-brain Problem
8. Brain-based Approaches to the Mind-brain Problem
PART III: PHILOSOPHY OF PSYCHOLOGY AND NEUROSCIENCE – FROM EXPLANATION OF MIND TO EXPLANATION OF BRAIN
9. Philosophy of Psychology – Personal Versus Subpersonal Levels of Explanation
10. Philosophy of Psychology – Mind and Meaning
11. Philosophy of Neuroscience – Explanations, Concepts, and Observer in Neuroscience
12. Philosophy of Brain – Characterization of the Brain
PART IV: NEUROPHILOSOPHY OF CONSCIOUSNESS – FROM MIND TO CONSCIOUSNESS
13. Arguments against the Reduction of Consciousness to the Brain
14. Neural Correlates of Consciousness (NCC)
15. Neural Predispositions of Consciousness (NPC)
16. Conceptual, Phenomenal, and Methodological Issues in the Investigation of Consciousness
PART V: NEUROPHILOSOPHY OF SELF – FROM CONSCIOUSNESS TO SELF
17. Brain and Self
18. Brain and Self-consciousness
19. Abnormalities of Self and Brain in Psychiatric Disorders
20. Brain and Intersubjectivity
Epilogue: Is the Brain a Door Opener?

See also: Author’s website

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new book – ‘Advances in Experimental Philosophy of Mind,’ ed. by Justin Sytsma

May 3, 2014

Advances in Experimental Philosophy of Mind

Advances in Experimental Philosophy of Mind, ed. by Justin Sytsma (Bloomsbury, 2014)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

The past decade has witnessed an exciting (and controversial) new approach to philosophy: Experimental philosophers aim to supplement, and perhaps to supplant, traditional philosophical approaches by employing empirical methods from the social sciences. In Advances in Experimental Philosophy of Mind, leading experimental philosophers apply these methods to questions about the nature of the mind, the self, consciousness, moral judgment, and concepts.

By bringing empirical methods to bear on key issues, Advances in Experimental Philosophy of Mind pushes the debates forward, casting new insight on perennial problems. This is an essential resource for professors, graduate students, and advanced undergraduates interested in either philosophy of mind or the burgeoning field of experimental philosophy.

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