Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hacker: Analytic Philosophy: Beyond the linguistic turn and back again

A review of Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience in NDPR
I liked the first piece, but from there it gets odd very quickly. NDPR:
Suppose, we ask a person who has had his sight or hearing restored “How does it feel to see (or hear)?” They are likely to answer “Why, it's wonderful.” What we are asking after is the person's attitude toward his recovery of a faculty, now restored. But what if we ask a person possessed of normal faculties “What is it like to see a chair or a table?” Bennett and Hacker aver that the person would have no idea what we were talking about. Seeing tables and chairs, postboxes and lampposts are all different experiences. But “[t]he experiences differ only in so far as their objects differ” (p. 274).
No they differ in their relation to the history of experience of the individual viewer.
And again:
In the course of reducing the mental to the physical, the normative dimensions of social life are lost. Consider this example. Suppose I place my signature on a document. The act of affixing my signature is accompanied by neural firings in my brain. The neural firings do not “explain” what I have done. In signing my name, I might be signing a check, giving an autograph, witnessing a will or signing a death certificate. In each case the neural firing may well be the same. And yet, the meaning of what I have done in affixing my signature is completely different in each case. These differences are “circumstance dependent,” not merely the product of my neural firings. Neural firings accompany the act of signing but only the circumstances of my signing, including the intention to do so, are the significant factors in explaining what I have done.
History, then, the record of experience and of 30 years of neural firings up to the point of my signing the check, is bunk. It's "metaphysical nonsense" because the primary mover of the world, if no longer God, must be this thing called the "Self".

Also in reference to this. SE/DG:
Mary the color scientist, seeing -sensing- color for the first time, will learn nothing new about color itself but will now give it a place among the trillions of sense impressions over the course of her life which she has compartmentalized, characterized, and like as not narrativized into her personal logic. She will have a new understanding of color not as independent but in relation to herself as a form of experience within the totality of her imagined and imagining life.
Mary will see, construct, and experience her red. It will become a part of the totality of her experience and her conditioning.
When I first read, or more likely heard about the famous cogito -I was young- my first response was "What is this "I" this person is talking about?" Descartes is such a Catholic. The difference is that the Trinity has become a duality, and transubstantiation has become the mind body "problem."

The fight over Fodor and Darwin is more interesting than Leiter allows. Watching rationalists struggling to come to terms with empiricism, even when they want to defend it (or lay claim to it) is fascinating. Empiricism is unstable and that scares them. And deeper than that something else scares them too. Experience is a record of and in Time.

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