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e-Book Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind download

e-Book Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind download

by Evan Thompson

ISBN: 0674057511
ISBN13: 978-0674057517
Language: English
Publisher: Belknap Press (September 30, 2010)
Pages: 568
Category: Philosophy
Subategory: Sociology

ePub size: 1723 kb
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Rating: 4.8
Votes: 771
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This synthesis of phenomenology and biology helps make Mind in Life a vital and long-awaited addition to his landmark volume The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience (coauthored with Eleanor Rosch and Francisco Varela).

This synthesis of phenomenology and biology helps make Mind in Life a vital and long-awaited addition to his landmark volume The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience (coauthored with Eleanor Rosch and Francisco Varela).

Mind in life can be discussed well enough, biologically, without the emphasis Thompson provides with his phenomenological perspective. Jul 08, 2017 Alina W. rated it it was amazing. This book does a fantastic job at dissolving mind-body dualism in a way that is not only philosophically satisfying, but also scientifically so.

The mind adapts to what is mysterious in nature and in so doing trivializes it. Not because the phenomenon itself . Not because the phenomenon itself is trivial, but because our. mind repeatedly fails to comprehend it and it therefore becomes an irritant around which we build an eschar to wall it off from our conscious thought processes.

Biology, phenomenology, and the sciences of mind

Biology, phenomenology, and the sciences of mind. The belknap press of harvard university press. Cambridge, Massachusetts London, England. COGNITIVE SCIENCE-that part of the science of the mind tradition-ally concerned with cognitive processes-has been described as having a very long past but a relatively short history (Gardner 1985, p. 9). Scientic concern with the mind can be traced all the way back to Plato and Aristotle, but the term cognitive science did not arise until the late twentieth century

Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind.

Biology, phenomenology, and the sciences of mind. The penultimate version of this book served as the main text for a graduate seminar in Phenomenological Philosophy of Mind I taught during the Fall Term 2005, in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Toronto. I am grateful to everyone who attended that seminarespecially Ranpal Dosanjh, David Egan, Cathal Madagin, Joshua Ben Nichols, Adrienne Prettyman, and Joel Walmsleyfor their critical responses to the text.

Précis of Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind Introduction The theme of this book is the deep continuity of life and mind. Where there is life there is mind, and mind in its most articulated forms belongs to life. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 18, No. 5–6, 2011, pp. ?–? 2. E. THOMPSON. and the intentionality of consciousness.

This is a large book, and large books have to justify themselves more than short ones

This is a large book, and large books have to justify themselves more than short ones. Although there are times when I think Evan Thompson could be more succinct, the length of the book is justified owing to the need for the ambitious project the book undertakes to be properly and convincingly realized. Overall, the book is a tremendous success and amounts to a superior contribution to recent and current debates in the philosophy of mind.

In Mind in Life Evan Thompson aims to assemble a framework for cognitive science that will begin to harmonize biology and phenomenology so as to help close the notorious "explanatory gap" between consciousness and nature

In Mind in Life Evan Thompson aims to assemble a framework for cognitive science that will begin to harmonize biology and phenomenology so as to help close the notorious "explanatory gap" between consciousness and nature. Thompson does not claim to close this gap completely, but to "enrich the philosophical and scientific resources we have for addressing" it (p. x). It may not yet be easy to tell how much headway has been made on the problem of the gap.

How is life related to the mind? The question has long confounded philosophers and scientists, and it is this so-called explanatory gap between biological life and consciousness that Evan Thompson explores in Mind in Life.

Thompson draws upon sources as diverse as molecular biology, evolutionary theory, artificial life, complex systems theory, neuroscience, psychology, Continental Phenomenology, and analytic philosophy to argue that mind and life are more continuous than has previously been accepted, and that current explanations do not adequately address the myriad facets of the biology and phenomenology of mind. Where there is life, Thompson argues, there is mind: life and mind share common principles of self-organization, and the self-organizing features of mind are an enriched version of the self-organizing features of life. Rather than trying to close the explanatory gap, Thompson marshals philosophical and scientific analyses to bring unprecedented insight to the nature of life and consciousness. This synthesis of phenomenology and biology helps make Mind in Life a vital and long-awaited addition to his landmark volume The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience (coauthored with Eleanor Rosch and Francisco Varela).

Endlessly interesting and accessible, Mind in Life is a groundbreaking addition to the fields of the theory of the mind, life science, and phenomenology.

Comments:
Inerrace
This book aims to span what the author calls "the explanatory gap" (Preface, p. x), his name for the question: "How are consciousness and subjective experience related to the brain and body?" The author says: "My aim is not to close the explanatory gap in a reductive sense, but rather to enlarge and enrich the the philosophical and scientific resources we have for addressing the gap." (Preface, p. x) As such, it discusses a very large literature on this subject and tries to knit it into one tapestry. It is an earnest and detailed attempt.

My experience in reading this book is that it requires close attention, and a lot of re-reading. There is a lot of vocabulary that needs revisiting as reading goes along, and the style is not one of emphasizing main issues, but of trying to give every author a fair treatment. One example of what I mean is that a lot of attention is given to explaining biological details, but the point of all this often seems to be to impress the reader that Thompson is up on the details, more than helping the reader understand how this work supports the project of spanning the gap.

Thompson puts much weight upon the distinction between a 'machine' and a 'living organism' and wants to find the distinction in "autopoiesis", which appears to name the distinction between a machine as something that is designed for a purpose by a designer (a watchmaker), and an organism that generates its own purpose and arranges and replaces its parts for its own ends. I think the idea here is to provide some criteria that allow a scientifically verifiable separation of living from nonliving things by observation of their operation. However useful that may be for science, it doesn't address the 'gap'. To do that, Thompson needs the added thesis that the organism's "autopoiesis" involves it in forming concepts about its environment during interaction with it, and that this process involves consciousness. I don't think Thompson establishes this thesis, although much verbiage surrounding it is provided.

In my view, the crux of the matter of human consciousness is crammed into Thompson's Chapter 13 where he finally gets around to enculturation (p. 402). To quote: "Human mentality emerges from developmental processes of enculturation and is configured by the distributed cognitive web of symbolic culture." (p. 403) He says "it makes no sense to think of culture and nature as separate developmental domains" nor to "conceptualize human cognitive development in the dichotomous framework of "nature versus culture" or "nature versus nurture" "Right from the start we need to situate the enculturation thesis in a developmental framework that explicitly rejects these dichotomous categories." (p. 403)

This framework for enculturation incorporates a very extensive review of opposition to the "selfish gene" theory and the unmerited dominance of the gene concept to the exclusion of other essential aspects of evolution and reproduction. The idea is to weaken the view that life is following a built-in program selected by evolutionary forces, and to emphasize that an active interplay between the organism and its species-specific environment is at work and is the more critical aspect. The argument against a prevalent overemphasis upon DNA occupies all of Chapter 7.

However, enculturation itself spans only the last nine pages of the book.

Although the author has given ample space to biologists and philosophers, he has ignored almost entirely the work of Erwin Schrodinger (Mind and Matter), of Thomas Kuhn (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions), Georg Northoff (Philosophy of the Brain) and of Thomas Nagel (Mind and Cosmos) (among many others) that suggests science is restricted in scope by its inability to address its own subjectivity, and by theories limited by our mental abilities, by social censorship, by funding failures, and by the segregation of scientists from the rest of society. Here are some practical sources of the explanatory gap, perhaps to be resolved by another book that more seriously explores enculturation.

Bottom line: This book is a powerful presentation of a somewhat limited thesis

Nalmergas
The questions being asked in this fascinating volume are, "what kind of entity can be said to be a mental entity" or "what has a mind and what doesn't," but also "where is mind - where does it begin and end"? Does a machine have mental capacity or does it just simulate mental capacity? Evan Thompson sets out to show that living things are synonymous with mental things and draws his arguments from molecular biology, evolutionary theory, neuroscience, complex systems theory, psychology, phenomenology, and analytic philosophy. Mind arises in and as the organization of living systems and their environments. Following Gregory Bateson, Erich Jantsch, Heinz von Foerester, and Francisco Varela before him, Thompson set out to show that where there is life, there is mind. Minds are not a reflection or representation of a pre-specified, external realm, but rather "enacted or brought forth by a being's autonomous agency and mode of coupling with the environment." This is postmodern biology, the situating of mind, reason, emotion and all products of interiority and the mind in bodies, environments, and worlds brought forth in co-construction of organism and environment. This is mind embodied, embedded, enacted, and extended and it is where cognitive science is currently heading.

Finally we are coming closer to an understanding that can situate and ground mental phenomena in the living bodies and environments that have always produced them rather than attributing them to disembodied transcendent-metaphysical realms or to see them as equivalent to electronic processing machines. The postmodern revolution in the social sciences and humanities that situated rationality and meaning in culture, language, and history continues into the cognitive and life sciences where it is now in the process of situating subjective experience and mind in bodies and their environments. Thompson's book is a huge contribution towards that end.

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