Maximilian de Gaynesford
Being human and engaging in philosophy are interdependent if not identical. In one direction, to engage in philosophy is to think about what it is to be human. Kant bequeathed this view to his successors when he claimed that philosophy could be reduced to what he called anthropology: the study of what it is to be human. In the other direction, the conviction that being human is to engage in philosophy has been expressed in various ways, from Hegel to Heidegger. The central insight here is that humans share a characteristic and peculiar form of being, one that is both able and constrained to question that being. The deepest expression of this tenet, as it operates in both directions in continental philosophy, is to be found in the writings of Heidegger, and specifically the anthropology of Being and Time and other works of the same period.
José Luis Bermúdez
This article argues that bodily awareness is a basic form of self-consciousness through which perceiving agents are directly conscious of the bodily self. It clarifies the nature of bodily awareness, categorises the different types of body-relative information, and rejects the claim that we can have a sense of ownership of our own bodies. It explores how bodily awareness functions as a form of self-consciousness and highlights the importance of certain forms of bodily awareness that share an important epistemological property with canonical forms of self-consciousness such as introspection.
J. Brendan Ritchie and Peter Carruthers
This chapter focuses on three broad systems of bodily perception: interoception, the vestibular system, and proprioception. We argue that they constitute (collections of) sense modalities, while discussing some of the philosophical issues they raise. These include: the relationship between emotion and interoception, whether the vestibular system induces distinctive phenomenally conscious experiences, and the relationship between proprioception and the body schema.
Alfred R. Mele
Many issues at the heart of the philosophy of action and of philosophical work on free will are framed partly in terms of causation. The leading approach to understanding both the nature of action and the explanation or production of actions emphasizes causation. What may be termed standard causalism is the conjunction of the following two theses: firstly, an event's being an action depends on how it was caused; and secondly, proper explanations of actions are causal explanations. Important questions debated in the literature on free will include: is an action's being deterministically caused incompatible with its being freely performed? Are actions free only if they are indeterministically caused? Does the indeterministic causation of an action preclude its being freely performed? Does free action require agent causation? This article concentrates on issues about action and free will that centrally involve causation.
This chapter, which examines the relation between rational emotion and death, considers the question of whether one's own death can merit self-interested emotional distress and investigates whether it is rational to fear death. It also analyzes the relevance of Lucretius's symmetry argument and argues that the crucial notion of an emotion being merited by its object is both puzzling and problematic.
This chapter examines the disintegration of personality associated with death. It analyzes the Personality Argument for the Termination Thesis, which is based on the notion that death deprives us of our personalities and that no one can survive the loss of personality. The chapter discusses the biological, psychological, and moral conceptions of personality and argues that the Personality Argument is not sound, concluding that if personality is a matter of species membership, then people can continue to exist even after death.
This chapter examines the connection between value and desire with regard to death. It argues that having categorical desires is a necessary condition for death to be bad for those who die, and that the degree to which death is bad bears a close relation to the number and strength of those desires. The chapter also analyzes the principles espoused by Jeff McMahan in his book “The Ethics of Killing: Problems at the Margins of Life.”.
This article examines the concept of the so-called embodied self. It attempts to answer the metaphysical question about the relation between body and self, the phenomenological question about the nature of our awareness of our own body, and the epistemological question of whether anything is special about the knowledge we have of our own bodies. It considers arguments in favour and against the claim that the person is identical with body. It also evaluates whether bodily awareness is a form of self-awareness.
Arguments specifically for and against idealism are arguments about the nature of the physical world, not about the nature of mind. This creates a problem for a would-be author of an entry on idealism, in a collection on the philosophy of mind, if he wishes to do justice both to the topic of his chapter and to the theme of the book as a whole. This article tries to resolve this conflict. Arguments for idealism usually take the form of attempted refutations of physical realism. They therefore tend to take the form of trying to prove that, in one way or another, the existence of material objects depends directly on the existence and activity of minds, other than that of the divine creator in his act of creating.
The term libertarianism is standardly used in philosophical discussions of free will to refer to a thesis composed of two parts: incompatibilism and indeterminism-in-the-right-places. Incompatibilism is the claim that neither the existence of freely willed actions nor the existence of actions for which the agent is morally responsible is compatible with the truth of causal determinism. By a freely willed action (or, for short, a free action) the article means one such that it was open to the agent to take some alternative course instead of that action—to will a different action or to remain inactive—open in the sense that at the time nothing made it the case that the agent could not take the alternative course. An agent is morally responsible for her action (or for any other state of affairs) if and only if it would be right for those in a position to do so to hold her accountable for the action (or state of affairs).
This chapter analyzes the issue of immortality in the opera “The Makropulos Case” and reviews Bernard Williams's essay inspired by the opera, which argues against immortality. It suggests that the widespread longing for an extended existence is an expression of our agency and that the rational appeal of extended existence rests on the fact that human beings are autonomous agents with a distinctively agential character.
The problem of mental causation is essentially coeval with the mind–body problem. Descartes arguably invented the latter when, in Meditation 2, he asked ‘But what then am I?’ to which he replied ‘A thing which thinks’, and then went on to argue, in Meditation 6, that ‘it is certain that this I is entirely and absolutely distinct from my body, and can exist without it’. As every student of western philosophy knows, Descartes's view was that minds and bodies constitute two disjoint categories of substance: minds are immaterial substances whose essential nature is thinking, while bodies are material substances located in physical space whose essence consists in being extended in space. Presumably, substance dualism of this form was not startling news to anyone at the time. However, Descartes, alone among the great rationalists of his day, urged a further view: minds and bodies are in causal interaction with each other, minds influencing bodies in voluntary actions and bodies influencing minds in perception and sensation.
Cei Maslen, Terry Horgan, and Helen Daly
Mental causation is held so dear because it seems essential in order for people to do anything (at least voluntarily). If one accepts Davidson's view that motivating reasons are causes, then (as Kim puts it) ‘agency is possible only if mental causation is possible’. Many kinds of mental items are supposed to be causes: beliefs, desires, sensations, emotions, the contents of beliefs and desires, and the phenomenal mental properties of sensations and beliefs (i.e. those properties such that there is ‘something it is like’ to experience them, if sensations and beliefs have such properties). Not only are mental states supposed to be causes (and effects), but so also are mental properties.
This article examines the metaphysics and phenomenology of the self or subject of experience. It suggests that the phenomenological description of the minimal subject requires no reference to body, environment, or social relations and argues for a thin conception of subjectivity which equates the subject with the experience itself. Under this principle of minimal conception, the subject does not exist if the person (or human animal) is asleep (unconscious). It contends that the profound metaphysical question about experience and experiential selves is whether experience is limited to certain types of physical processes, or is characteristic of all physical processes, which would entail panpsychism.
This article examines how Nietzsche’s illness bears on his philosophical ideas. It demonstrates that the long-standard explanation for Nietzsche’s dementia—syphilis—is almost certainly false. The cause is much more likely to have been a brain tumor, which had caused him severe headaches and eye problems since childhood. Nietzsche also suffered from a host of digestive problems. It is no wonder that he puts such great weight on “health” and especially the kind of health that overcomes sickness and suffering. When Nietzsche values “madness,” it is a healthy and philosophical madness exemplified in Zarathustra and which Nietzsche tried to cultivate in himself.
This article evaluates whether personal identity should be sought only in the biological or embodied existence of the person or exclusively in psychological existence. It suggests that whatever the answer turns out to be, it would involve causality. It argues against the animalist view of personal identity and defends the classical neo-Lockean view by arguing that the thick properties of person are psychological or mental ones. The author's answer to the question of what we are is in part that we are creatures having certain kinds of mental properties as the thick properties whose causal profiles determine their persistence conditions.
The simplest conception of the ontology of perception is that it consists of an event involving a subject, an object, and an asymmetric relation between them of perceptual consciousness: as a result of this relation, the object, in the sense of thing, becomes an object-of-perceptual-consciousness, that is, an object in the grammatico-logical sense. Direct realism preserves an important feature of naive realism, because it insists that there is no entity involved other than the external object we deem to be perceived, but it allows that there is a relation of appearing which is more than the simple apprehending of the object as it is, but the account of which remains so far unclear.
It is a serious question both in philosophy and the history of ideas just how our conception of mind has evolved. There is something of a consensus that Descartes introduced a particular conception and one, interestingly, that can be seen to take shape against the backdrop of an evolving scientific conception of the world. This scientific account of the world had no room for mind, and Descartes helped things along by hiving off the mind, so to speak, into its own realm. In Descartes's world-view mind and body are distinct, and distinct substances.
This article examines the problems concerning personal identity. It identifies two issues that are central to the question of personal identity: one concerns causality and the other concerns the notion of first person. It discusses the difficulty in determining the relation between personal identity and the first person and attempts to identify what it is about the first person that contributes so much to our puzzlement about the identity of the self, over and above the problems raised by the causal complexity of persons. It outlines the connection between causality and the identities of concrete objects generally, and how specifically it applies to the case of persons.
Tamar Szabó Gendler
This article tries to situate the recent discussions of personal identity in their historical context. It begins with a brief discussion of Locke's account of identity as such, turning then to a more detailed account of his views on personal identity in particular. It then discusses a pair of problems that arise for any sort of neo-Lockean account, and surveys the sorts of responses that have been offered to them. Finally the article briefly presents three recent accounts, each of which can be seen as relying on a subtle re-characterization of the traditional problem of personal identity.