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.
Andrea Raballo and Lorenzo Pelizza
This chapter discusses the phenomenology of affective temperaments as well as their subjective nuances and potential pathogenetic trajectories. It first considers the notion that different kinds of temperament are constitutionally based affective-behavioral dispositions, tracing it back to Hippocratic medicine with the theory of the four humors. It then explains how the modern concept of affective temperaments has been operationalized in a clinical descriptive framework. In particular, it explores the works of Emil Kraepelin, Ernst Kretschmer, and Hubertus Tellenbach on affective psychoses, human emotions, and Typus Melancholicus (TM), respectively. The chapter also examines the pathogenic role of TM as a specific personality structure, how despair intervenes in the transition from the pre-melancholic to the melancholic phase, and the status of temperaments within the context of affective phenomenology.
Affectivity and Its Disorders draws on Martin Heidegger’s phenomenology of moods and his conception of Befindlichkeit in an effort to critique traditional psychological and behaviorist views of affectivity. On Heidegger’s account, moods are not fleeting or contingent aspects of experience but rather constitutive of what it means ‘to be’ human insofar as they serve as the mediating horizon or atmosphere that makes it possible for things to affectively matter to us. The primary aim of this chapter is to explore the ways in which psychopathologic experience disrupts and modifies the structure of Befindlichkeit and the mediating capacity of moods. This structural disruption is examined from the perspectives of embodiment, being-with-others, and temporality.
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.
The distinction between agent-relative and agent-neutral reasons, at least in its explicit form, is a fairly recent contribution to normative ethics. That the distinction is both well-defined and significant is often taken for granted in contemporary normative ethics. For example, it is supposed to help us characterize many aspects of common-sense morality, such as personal duties, and deontological restrictions or constraints. The main question of this chapter is whether there is a well-defined distinction between agent-relative and agent-neutral reasons that has this high level of significance. Is the distinction really “an extremely important one,” as Nagel said, or perhaps even one of “the greatest contributions of recent ethics,” as Tom Hurka suggests? A variety of accounts of this distinction is discussed and it is argued that none live up to this hype, at least if the distinction is supposed not to beg other important questions in normative ethics.
Søren Overgaard and Mads Gram Henriksen
Alterity examines a key notion in phenomenology, viz. that of otherness or alterity, and distinguishes between a broad and a narrow definition of alterity. Broadly understood, “alterity” refers to anything that eludes or transcends a subject’s grasp. Narrowly understood, it refers exclusively to another agent, subjectivity or mind, or what is experienced as such. The chapter outlines classical and contemporary phenomenological analyses of experiences of alterity in the narrow sense of the term. It considers analyses of normal experiences of alterity found in the philosophical literature—focusing in particular on Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Sartre, and Levinas—as well as analyses of pathological experiences of alterity described in phenomenological psychopathology, such as auditory verbal hallucinations. Finally, it suggests that “radical alterity” is a central feature of the phenomenology of schizophrenia.
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.