Categories
Philosophy

Solipsism

Solipsism

Solipsism is the philosophical idea that the only thing that can be known to exist is one’s own mind and everything outside of one’s own mind cannot be verified. The word ‘Solipsism’ (sɒlɪpsɪzəm) actually comes from Latin solus, which meaning is ‘alone’, and ipse, meaning ‘self’. It means that a person cannot know anything exists except for himself.  Therefore, solipsism is a form of skepticism since it doubts the existence of everything except one’s own existence. Solipsism also means that everything that a person perceives to exist is a projection of his own thinking.

In philosophy, ‘Solipsism’ is an extreme form of subjective idealism that denies that the human mind has any valid ground for believing in the existence of anything but itself. The British idealist F.H. Bradley, in Appearance and Reality (1893), characterized the solipsistic view as follows:

‘‘I cannot transcend experience, and experience must be my experience. From this, it follows that nothing beyond myself exists; for what is experience is its (the self’s) states.’’

Solipsism is the fact (as much as any other so-called fact), that we create our dreams not only at night when we sleep but also in the day. As well as before we are “born,” and after we so call “die.” The dreams in the day only appear more “rational.” It is not that “we are the only thing that exists,” but that our consciousness is all that exists.

Solipsism corrodes any logic or evidence that would support the reality of experience. If our experiences are artificial, imaginary, or false, then any experience that might lead us to believe in solipsism could be part of the illusion and therefore unreliable. At the same time, any experience that might lead us to doubt solipsism could be dismissed for the same reason. As a result, solipsism is neither proved nor contradicted by any possible experience, which means that solipsism as a philosophy is practically meaningless. The idea is both unfalsifiable and unverifiable. True or false, we can’t know it or disprove it, and so we can’t make any meaningful decisions about it.

Solipsism was first recorded by the Greek presocratic sophist, Gorgias (c. 483–375 BC) who is quoted by the Roman sceptic Sextus Empiricus as having stated:

  • Nothing exists.
  • Even if something exists, nothing can be known about it.
  • Even if something could be known about it, knowledge about it can’t be communicated to others.

Much of the point of the Sophists was to show that “objective” knowledge was a literal impossibility.

Solipsism works much the same way in our minds. If we wanted to, we could chalk up everything we experience as a figment of our imagination, including all signs to the contrary. But we’d have to do the same with all signs pointing to solipsism in the first place. And we have no tangible reasons to think it’s true in any case. Like the children’s song, we might well get hung up on the idea, but there’s absolutely nothing suggesting we do so other than the idea itself.

 

Information Source:

  1. britannica.com
  2. gotquestions.org
  3. carm.org
  4. urbandictionary.com
  5. wikipedia
Categories
Philosophy

Argument

Argument

In logic and critical thinking, an argument is a list of statements, one of which is the conclusion and the others are the premises or assumptions of the argument. The logical form of an argument in a natural language can be represented in a symbolic formal language, and independently of natural language formally defined “arguments” can be made in math and computer science.

The Latin root arguere (to make bright, enlighten, make known, prove, etc.) is from Proto-Indo-European argu-yo-, suffixed form of arg- (to shine; white).

Perhaps the simplest explanation of what an argument is comes from Monty Python’s “Argument Clinic” sketch:

An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a definite proposition. …an argument is an intellectual process… a contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says.

Argument comes from the 14th-century French word of the same spelling, meaning, “statements and reasoning in support of a proposition.” An argument can be a fact used as evidence to show that something is true, like a study that shows exercise improves certain health conditions — an argument for being more active. Argument also means “a discussion between people who have contrary views.”

Informal arguments as studied in informal logic, are presented in an ordinary language and are intended for everyday discourse. Conversely, formal arguments are studied in formal logic (historically called symbolic logic, more commonly referred to as mathematical logic today) and are expressed in a formal language.

An argument can be broken down into three major components: premises, inferences, and a conclusion.

  • Premises are statements of (assumed) fact which are supposed to set forth the reasons and/or evidence for believing a claim.
  • Inferences are the reasoning parts of an argument.
  • Conclusions are a type of inference, but always the final inference.

There are two different types of claims which can occur in an argument. The first is a factual claim, and this purports to offer evidence. The first two premises above are factual claims and usually, not much time is spent on them — either they are true or they are not.

The second type is an inferential claim — it expresses the idea that some matter of fact is related to the sought-after conclusion.

In modern argumentation theories, arguments are regarded as defeasible passages from premises to a conclusion. Defeasibility means that when additional information (new evidence or contrary arguments) is provided, the premises may be no longer lead to the conclusion (non-monotonic reasoning). This type of reasoning is referred to as defeasible reasoning.

 

Information Source:

  1. vocabulary.com
  2. wikipedia
  3. philosophy.hku.hk
  4. thoughtco.com
Categories
Philosophy

Functionalism

Functionalism

Functionalism in the philosophy of mind is the doctrine that what makes something a mental state of a particular type does not depend on its internal constitution, but rather on the way it functions, or the role it plays, in the system of which it is a part. Functionalism developed largely as an alternative to the identity theory of mind and behaviorism. This doctrine is rooted in Aristotle’s conception of the soul, and has antecedents in Hobbes’s conception of the mind as a “calculating machine”, but it has become fully articulated (and popularly endorsed) only in the last third of the 20th century.

“Functionalist theory is the concept that everything in society has a function. When one function fails, the rest of the functions within society are all interrupted. According to functionalism, society is a system of interconnected parts that work together in harmony to maintain a state of balance and social equilibrium for the whole.”

For (an avowedly simplistic) example, a functionalist theory might characterize pain as a state that tends to be caused by bodily injury, to produce the belief that something is wrong with the body and the desire to be out of that state, to produce anxiety, and, in the absence of any stronger, conflicting desires, to cause wincing or moaning. According to this theory, all and only creatures with internal states that meet these conditions, or play these roles, are capable of being in pain.

An important part of some accounts of functionalism is the idea of multiple realizability. Since, according to standard functionalist theories, mental states are the corresponding functional role, mental states can be sufficiently explained without taking into account the underlying physical medium (e.g. the brain, neurons, etc.) that realizes such states; one need only take into account the higher-level functions in the cognitive system.

However, there have been some functionalist theories that combine with the identity theory of mind, which deny multiple realizability. Such Functional Specification Theories (FSTs) (Levin, § 3.4), as they are called, were most notably developed by David Lewis and David Malet Armstrong.

Functionalism has three distinct sources. First, Putnam and Fodor saw mental states in terms of an empirical computational theory of the mind. Second, Smart’s “topic-neutral” analyses led Armstrong and Lewis to a functionalist analysis of mental concepts. Third, Wittgenstein’s idea of meaning as use led to a version of functionalism as a theory of meaning, further developed by Sellars and later Harman.

Functionalism emphasizes that consensus must exist in the society, social stability is acquired and shared values are held. Therefore any disorganization in the system is perceived to be unorthodox behavior, and leads to change of the adjustments that need to be made to achieve initial social stability, “When one part of the system is not working or is dysfunctional, it affects all other parts and creates social problems, which leads to social change”.

Like behaviorism, functionalism takes mental states out of the realm of the “private” or subjective and gives them status as entities open to scientific investigation. But, in contrast to behaviorism, functionalism’s characterization of mental states in terms of their roles in the production of behavior grants them the causal efficacy that common sense takes them to have. And in permitting mental states to be multiply realized, functionalism seems to offer an account of mental states that is compatible with materialism, without limiting the class of those with minds to creatures with brains like ours.

Functionalism continues to be a lively and fluid point of view. Positive developments in recent years include enhanced prospects for conceptual functionalism and the articulation of the teleological point of view. Critical developments include problems with causality and holism and continuing controversy over chauvinism and liberalism.

 

Information Source:

  1. nyu.edu
  2. quora.com
  3. stanford.edu
  4. wikipedia

 

Categories
Philosophy

Collective Intentionality

Collective Intentionality

Collective intentionality is the power of minds to be jointly directed at objects, matters of fact, states of affairs, goals, or values. Collective intentionality comes in a variety of modes, including shared intention, joint attention, shared belief, collective acceptance, and collective emotion. Collective intentional attitudes permeate our everyday lives, for instance when two or more agents look after or raise a child, campaign for a political party, or cheer for a sports team.

The study of collective intentionality is the study of intentionality in the social context.  What is distinctive about the study of collective intentionality within the broader study of social interactions and structures is its focus on the conceptual and psychological features of joint or shared actions and attitudes, that is, actions and attitudes of (or apparent attributions of such to) groups or collectives, their relations to individual actions and attitudes, and their implications for the nature of social groups and their functioning.

In the 20th century, the likes of Wilfrid Sellars and Anthony Quinton noted the existence of “We-Intentions” amid broader discussion of the concept of intentionality, and thus laid the groundwork for the focused philosophical analysis of collective intentionality that began in the late 1980s.

Collective acceptance is a central presupposition for the creation of a language, and of a whole world of symbols, institutions, and social status. Shared evaluative attitudes provide us with a conception of the common good. In virtue of this, we can reason from the perspective of our groups, and conceive of ourselves in terms of our social identities and social roles. This again enables us to constitute group agents such as business enterprises, universities, or political parties.

The main philosophical challenge connected with the analysis of collective intentionality is in the tension within the expression “individuals as a group”. It can be spelled out as a contradiction between the following two widely accepted claims (the Central Problem):

  • Collective intentionality is no simple summation, aggregate, or distributive pattern of individual intentionality (the Irreducibility Claim);
  • Collective intentionality is had by the participating individuals, and all the intentionality an individual has is his or her own (the Individual Ownership Claim).

Contemporary philosophical discussion of collective intentionality was initiated by Raimo Tuomela and Kaarlo Miller’s “We-Intentions”. In this paper, Tuomela and Miller assert three conditions necessary for a collective intention, highlighting the importance of beliefs among the agents of the group. After citing examples that are commonly accepted as requiring more than one member to participate (carrying a table upstairs, playing tennis, toasting to a friend, conversing, etc.), they state their criteria:

A member (A) of a collective (G) we-intends to do a group action (X) if and only if:

  1. (A) intends to do his or her part of X
  2. (A) believes that accomplishing X is possible and that all members of G intend to do their part towards accomplishing X
  3. (A) believes that all the members of G also believe that accomplishing X is possible.

John Searle’s 1990 paper, “Collective Intentions and Actions” offers another interpretation of collective action. In contrast to Tuomela and Miller, Searle claims that collective intentionality is a “primitive phenomenon, which cannot be analyzed as the summation of individual intentional behavior”. He exemplifies the fundamental distinction between “I-intentions” and “We-intentions” by comparing the hypothetical case of a set of picnickers and a dance troupe.

Michael Bratman’s 1992 paper “Shared Cooperative Activity”, contends that shared cooperative activity (SCA) can be reduced to “I-intentions”. In other words, just as an individual can plan to act by him or herself, that same individual can also plan for a group to act. With this in mind, he presents three characteristics of shared cooperative activity:

  1. Each participant must be mutually responsive to the intentions and actions of the others,
  2. The participants must each be committed to the joint activity,
  3. The participants must each be committed to supporting the efforts of the others.

Collective intentionality is a rapidly growing interdisciplinary area of research that draws on philosophy, logic, linguistics, cognitive science, sociology, computer science, psychology, economics, political science, legal theory, and cultural and evolutionary anthropology.

 

Information Source:

  1. stanford.edu
  2. wikipedia
  3. philpapers.org