Alfred R. Mele
What are actions? And how are actions to be explained? These two central questions of the philosophy of action call, respectively, for a theory of the nature of action and a theory of the explanation of actions. Many ordinary explanations of actions are offered in terms of such mental states as beliefs, desires, and intentions, and some also appeal to traits of character and emotions. Traditionally, philosophers have used and refined this vocabulary in producing theories of the explanation of intentional actions. An underlying presupposition is that common-sense explanations expressed in these terms have proved very useful. People understand their own and others' actions well enough to coordinate and sustain complicated, cooperative activities integral to normal human life, and that understanding is expressed largely in a common-sense psychological vocabulary. This article focuses on these issues.
This chapter enters into a debate with the analytic theory of action, especially the version developed by Donald Davidson, who makes it clear that the upsurge of a desire to perform a specific action is a natural event that is causally responsible for the action in question. The narrative interpretation of selfhood was initiated by Hannah Arendt. Selfhood is certainly assured on a passive and affective plane. Edmund Husserl maintains that in the passive sphere, a self is constituted preceding active reflection. As Paul Ricœur clearly determines, the complicity with reality entails a ‘decentred self’ that is strictly opposed to the self-centred, self-controlled, and self-assured ego of modern philosophy. Emmanuel Levinas never accepted Wittgenstein's constraint on philosophy to remain silent with regard to the ‘unsayable’.
There are two main motivations for action-based approaches to perception: the parsimonious assumption that action and perception belong to a single overlapping functional system and the tendency to minimize the load of internal processing in perception. For example, according to the ecological paradigm, visual perception consists in detecting affordances for action. Many advocates of action-based accounts of perception reject the computational/representational approach and embrace instead an embodied approach to perception and an empiricist view of the contents of concepts. For example, enactivists argue for constitutive links between an agent’s bodily movements and the content of her perceptual experiences. While, enactivism is not easy to reconcile with evidence for the two-visual systems model of human vision, further support for action-based accounts of social perception has been derived from the discovery of mirror neurons and mirroring processes.
Susan L. Feagin
This article explains the complexity argument as offered by Peter Kivy in relation to absolute music. The next section looks at a particular criticism of the complexity argument: that feelings often alert us to what is important in one's current environment (for these purposes, what is important in the work one is reading) in a way that cannot be accomplished by reason or cognition, ‘intellectual’ activity, or even by affectless perception. Such a view of feelings in general currently enjoys substantial popularity among a variety of psychologists and philosophers. The next section presents one intellectualist model for appreciation, courtesy of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five: the Tralfamadorean view, which connects the absence of time from the reading process, and from the process of living one's life, with the absence of feelings that reflect the human capacity for agency.
Stephen J. Crowley and Colin Allen
This article focuses on comparative psychology, ethology, and cognitive ethology which explain animal behaviour. The same old questions raised by ancient Greek are discussed by scientists today. Morgan's pioneer work show that a quantitative approach to the physical features of animals and their behavioral products was not beyond imagination. He believed that a scientific understanding of the mental states of animals depends on a “double inductive” process, combining inductive inferences based on observation of animal behavior with knowledge of our own minds. The ethological work concentrated on non-mammalian species. Later “cognitive ethology” was used to describe the research program which combines both cognitive science and classical ethology. The fact that emotion plays a more significant role in animal behaviour was inferred. There have been various attempts to develop a fully integrative approach to animal behavior, but the study of behavior moves in different directions.
Anomalous monism is a view about the relationship between the mind and the body, which attempts to strike a delicate balance between the thesis of materialism, on the one hand, and the irreducibility of the mental, on the other. Its current formulation is found in Donald Davidson's landmark paper, ‘Mental Events’, and concerns only intentional states — contentful mental states, such as the belief that p, the desire that q, and other propositional attitudes. Anomalous monism consists of two theses, one concerning monism, the other concerning anomalism. The ‘monism’ part of anomalous monism is the claim that all events, including the mental ones, essentially fall under one class; namely, the class of physical events.
Christopher C. W. Taylor
For Aristotle,phronēsis, the excellence of the practical intellect, is two-fold, consisting of a true conception of the end to be achieved by action and correct deliberation about the means to achieve that end. Three accounts have been given as to how that true conception of the end is acquired: i) by virtue of character, ii) by dialectic, i.e. critical reasoning concerning authoritative beliefs, and iii) by induction from data of experience. Virtue of character is the proper responsiveness of the appetitive element in the soul to reason; it is itself a rational state, presupposing a prior grasp of the end by the intellect. Dialectic and experience are each required for the attainment of that grasp, the role of the former being apparently to formulate more or less indeterminate principles that it is the task of moral experience to make determinate.
This article discusses some core theorems of Aristotle's account of persuasion as it is set out in the Rhetoric. It is the declared ambition of Rhetoric I and II to develop a technê, or art, of rhetoric, and the central tool of this technê is, as it were, the introduction of three technical means of persuasion: êthos, pathos, and logos. Probably the best point to start with is two claims that Aristotle eventually makes in the course of his work on rhetoric, the first of which consists in saying that proofs and arguments are central to persuasion. The second claim states that proofs and arguments, however central and important they may be, are not sufficient to persuade. The article examines the relation between these two claims in order to elucidate certain assumptions that Aristotle seems to make concerning the moral psychology of persuasion.
Fred D. Miller Jr.
In De Anima, Aristotle addresses the problem of whether the mind is separable from the body. In book I, he broaches the broader question of whether the affections of the soul, including emotion, desire, and perception, are separable from the body. In book II, Aristotle follows his explication of the general definition of the soul with the remark that “neither the soul nor certain parts of it, if it naturally has parts, are separable from the body. Yet nothing prevents some [parts from being separable], because they are not the actualizations of any body.” By “parts,” Aristotle means separable faculties or powers, including nutrition, perception, mind, and desire. The issue of separability is signalled at the beginning of the treatment of mind in book III. If mind alone turned out to be separable from the body, the study of the soul would not belong exclusively to physics but would spill over into first philosophy. This would imply either that psychology consists of two separate sciences, or else that first philosophy and physics are not mutually exclusive.
The theory of art in which the abiding philosophical interest in the connection between art and emotion is most explicit is expression theory, of which there have been several, significantly different, versions. Common to all of these is the thought that the value of art lies at least largely in the value of its expression of emotion; but theorists have differed markedly in how they understand the nature of such expression. On what might be called the full-blown version of expression theory — instances of which were held by Leo Tolstoy and by Clive Bell — expression is understood as a matter of the communication or transmission of emotion or feeling from artist to audience via the work of art. The value of a work of art, on this view, will be a function both of the value of the feeling that it transmits (Tolstoy, for instance, held that sincerity and individuality of feeling were crucial criteria of value in this respect), and of its ‘infectiousness’ (to use a Tolstoyan metaphor) and the clarity with which it transmits that feeling.