Sunday, December 30, 2012

Embodied Cognition

Excerpt from  Louder Than Words: The New Science of How the Mind Makes Meaning by Benjamin K. Bergen.
Starting as early as the 1970s, some cognitive psychologists, philosophers, and linguists began to wonder whether meaning wasn’t something totally different from a language of thought [Call it Mentalese, whichtranslates words into actual concepts: a polar bear or speed limit, for instance]. They suggested that—instead of abstract symbols—meaning might really be something much more closely intertwined with our real experiences in the world, with the bodies that we have. As a self-conscious movement started to take form, it took on a name, embodiment, which started to stand for the idea that meaning might be something that isn’t distilled away from our bodily experiences but is instead tightly bound by them. For you, the word dog might have a deep and rich meaning that involves the ways you physically interact with dogs—how they look and smell and feel. But the meaning of polar bear will be totally different, because you likely don’t have those same experiences of direct interaction.
See more of this excerpt in Scientific American, Embodied Cognition: Our Inner Imaginings of the World Around Us Make Us Who We Are [Excerpt]

Thursday, December 27, 2012

David Lewis on Philosophy

David Lewis
Our “intuitions” are simply opinions: our philosophical theories are the same. Some are commonsensical, some are sophisticated; some are particular; some general; some are more firmly held, some less. But they are all opinions, and a reasonable goal for a philosopher is to bring them into equilibrium. Our common task it to find out what equilibria there are that can withstand examination, but it remains for each of us to come to rest at one or another of them…
      Once the menu of well-worked out theories is before us, philosophy is a matter of opinion. Is that to say that there is no truth to be had? Or that the truth is of our own making, and different ones of us can make it differently? Not at all! If you say flatly that there is no god, and I say that there are countless gods but none of them are our worldmates, then it may be that neither of us is making any mistake of method. We may each be bringing our opinions to equilibrium in the most careful possible way, taking account of all the arguments, distinctions, and counterexamples. But one of us, at least, is making a mistake of fact. Which one is wrong depends on what there is (Collected Papers, Vol. 1, 1983: x-xi). 

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Fall Philosophy Reception

We want to invite all NKU philosophy majors and minors, and friends of the program, to a fall celebration of student achievement, when we we acknowledge our graduating seniors and inductees into Phi Sigma Tau, the philosophy honor society. Stop by LA 203 on Wednesday, December 5, between 3:00 and 5:00. Refreshments and great conversation.

Philosophers' Cafe

Thanks to everyone who came out to the Philosophers' Cafe yesterday. Great discussion.