Key word "solipsism"
Bitbol M. (2004) The problem of other minds: A debate between Schrödinger and Carnap. ￼Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 3: 115–123.
The problem of other minds: A debate between Schrödinger and Carnap.
￼Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 3: 115–123.
This paper reviews the debate between Carnap and Schrödinger about Hypothesis P (It is not only I who have perceptions and thoughts; other human beings have them too)–a hypothesis that underlies the possibility of doing science. For Schrödinger this hypothesis is not scientifically testable; for Carnap it is. But Schrödinger and Carnap concede too much to each other and miss an alternative understanding: science does not depend on an explicit hypothesis concerning what other human beings see and think; it is simply a practice of communication which anticipates or presupposes the perfect interchangeability of positions amongst the members of the linguistic community. The mentalistic vocabulary of folk-psychology, used by Carnap and Schrödinger, does not take first but last place in this perspective; because it does nothing but express after the event the confidence to which the disputants bear witness regarding a generally successful practice of communication.
Brentari C. (2013) How to make worlds with signs: Some remarks on Jakob von Uexküll’s Umwelt theory. Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio 7: 8–21. https://cepa.info/6642
How to make worlds with signs: Some remarks on Jakob von Uexküll’s Umwelt theory.
Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio 7: 8–21.
Fulltext at https://cepa.info/6642
This article addresses the conception of the environment (Umwelt) of the Estonian physiologist and biologist Jakob von Uexküll (1864–1944). Uexküll’s core idea is that the Umwelt of animals and humans is a species-specific subjective construction. Two basic dynamics co-operate in this process: the first is a transcendental elaboration of the stimuli from outside reality, which creates potential signs ready to be used for the animal’s behavioural needs; the second is the re-assignation (Hinausverlegung) of these signs to the outside world. Uexküll’s theory about the construction of the Umwelt can only be understood by acknowledging both aspects (the transcendental and the semiotic) and keeping them together. A criticism could therefore be made of those interpretations of Uexküll’s thought that view the species-specific Umwelt as the product of a passive perception process. Finally, two critical points in Uexküll’s theory will be focused on: the risk of “species-specific solipsism” and an inadequate consideration of two peculiarities of the human semiotic environment (its high intra-specific variability and its inclusiveness towards other species’ Umwelten)
Cowley S. J. & Gahrn-Andersen R. (2015) Deflating autonomy: Human interactivity in the emerging social world. Intellectica 62: 49–63. https://cepa.info/4772
Cowley S. J. & Gahrn-Andersen R.
Deflating autonomy: Human interactivity in the emerging social world.
Intellectica 62: 49–63.
Fulltext at https://cepa.info/4772
This article critiques recent enactivist attempts to bridge an epistemological divide between the individual and the social (i.e. to fill in the posited macro-micro gap) Its central claim is that an inflated view of ‘autonomy’ leads to error. Scrutinising two contributions, we find that methodological solipsism taints Varela’s model: It induces De Jaegher & Di Paolo to ascribe social knowledge to perturbances – contingencies whose logic arises from the closed organization of an individual (De Jaegher & Di Paolo, 2007) and Steiner & Stewart to posit that the pre-dispositions of an organizationally closed world prompt individuals to “receive” shared norms (Steiner & Stewart, 2009) On our deflated view, neither organizational closure nor participatory sense making apply to most human cognition. Rather, we invoke a developmental process based on the recursive self-maintenance that is found in all organism-environment systems (including bacteria) Humans differ in that infants discover ways of making skilled use of phenomenal experience: they learn to predicate something of lived experience. As observers, they connect impersonal resources of culture (artifacts, institutions, languages etc.) with on-going social and environmental activity. This human kind of heteronomy links social processes to agent-environment systems that sustain – and are sustained by – historically positioned modes of life. Far from being organisationally closed, human subjects depend on using sensorimotoric prompts to connect the phenomenal with the impersonal and open up a partly shared, partly lived, reality.
De Jaegher H. & Froese T. (2009) On the role of social interaction in individual agency. Adaptive Behavior 17(5): 444–460. https://cepa.info/4717
De Jaegher H. & Froese T.
On the role of social interaction in individual agency.
Adaptive Behavior 17(5): 444–460.
Fulltext at https://cepa.info/4717
Is an individual agent constitutive of or constituted by its social interactions? This question is typically not asked in the cognitive sciences, so strong is the consensus that only individual agents have constitutive efficacy. In this article we challenge this methodological solipsism and argue that interindividual relations and social context do not simply arise from the behavior of individual agents, but themselves enable and shape the individual agents on which they depend. For this, we define the notion of autonomy as both a characteristic of individual agents and of social interaction processes. We then propose a number of ways in which interactional autonomy can influence individuals. Then we discuss recent work in modeling on the one hand and psychological investigations on the other that support and illustrate this claim. Finally, we discuss some implications for research on social and individual agency.
Dykstra Jr. D. (2010) What Can We Learn from the Misunderstandings of Radical Constructivism? Commentary on Slezak’s “Radical Constructivism: Epistemology, Education and Dynamite”. Constructivist Foundations 6(1): 120–126. https://constructivist.info/6/1/120
Dykstra Jr. D.
What Can We Learn from the Misunderstandings of Radical Constructivism? Commentary on Slezak’s “Radical Constructivism: Epistemology, Education and Dynamite”.
Constructivist Foundations 6(1): 120–126.
Fulltext at https://constructivist.info/6/1/120
Problem: What alternative strategies from our experiences using a Piaget-based radical constructivist pedagogy might have more and better results than the current practice of responding in debate form, each side trying to prove the other wrong? Method: Use of Slezak’s paper to illuminate the point that the central problem with the interpretation of RC generally used in such writing is that the authors seem not to be able to operate from the central tenet of RC, which is the opposite of that used in realism. Description of how this failure to use the central tenet of RC results in claims that RC is irrelevant to education and to definitions of good teaching. Results: A specific approach shown to be useful in facilitating the construction of new understanding in science is adapted in order to guide interaction between an RC and a realist, which can result in the realist understanding the RC point of view. Implications: Instead of debating with critics of RC, where each side is trying to prove the other side wrong, we need to change the interaction to one in which members of opposing sides attempt to understand the other’s position. In this situation we are in a position to use a pedagogical strategy in which the realist examines her own fundamental assumption that we can know a mind-independent world, and considers the implications of a starting assumption that is exactly the opposite.
Fodor J. (1980) Methodological solipsism considered as a research strategy in cognitive psychology. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3: 63–110. https://cepa.info/4845
Methodological solipsism considered as a research strategy in cognitive psychology.
Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3: 63–110.
Fulltext at https://cepa.info/4845
The paper explores the distinction between two doctrines, both of which inform theory construction in much of modern cognitive psychology: the representational theory of mind and the computational theory of mind. According to the former, propositional attitudes are to be construed as relations that organisms bear to mental representations. According to the latter, mental processes have access only to formal (nonsemantic) properties of the mental representations over which they are defined. The following claims are defended: (1) That the traditional dispute between “rational” and “naturalistic” psychology is plausibly viewed as an argument about the status of the computational theory of mind. Rational psychologists accept a formality condition on the specification of mental processes; naturalists do not. (2) That to accept the formality condition is to endorse a version of methodological solipsism. (3) That the acceptance of some such condition is warranted, at least for that part of psychology which concerns itself with theories of the mental causation of behavior. This is because: (4) such theories require nontransparent taxonomies of mental states; and (5) nontransparent taxonomies individuate mental states without reference to their semantic properties. Equivalently, (6) nontransparent taxonomies respect the way that the organism represents the object of its propositional attitudes to itself, and it is this representation which functions in the causation of behavior. The final section of the paper considers the prospect for a naturalistic psychology: one which defines its generalizations over relations between mental representations and their environmental causes, thus seeking to account for the semantic properties of propositional attitudes. Two related arguments are proposed, both leading to the conclusion that no such research strategy is likely to prove fruitful.
Hutto D. D. (2009) Mental representation and consciousness. In: Banks W. P. (ed.) Encyclopedia of consciousness. Volume 2. Academic Press, New York: 19–32.
Hutto D. D.
Mental representation and consciousness.
In: Banks W. P. (ed.) Encyclopedia of consciousness. Volume 2. Academic Press, New York: 19–32.
Intentionality and consciousness are the fundamental kinds of mental phenomena. Although they are widely regarded as being entirely distinct some philosophers conjecture that they are intimately related. Prominently it has been claimed that consciousness can be best understood in terms of representational facts or properties. Representationalist theories vary in strength. At their core they seek to establish that subjective, phenomenal consciousness (of the kind that involves the having of first-personal points of view or perspectives on the world – perspectives that incorporate experiences with specific phenomenal characters) is either exhausted by, or supervenes on, capacities for mental representation. These proposals face several serious objections.
Key words: enactivism
, methodological solipsism
, mode of presentation
, narrow content
, phenomenal character
, representational content
Johnson D. K. (2010) Footprints in the Sand: Radical Constructivism and the Mystery of the Other. Constructivist Foundations 6(1): 90–99. https://constructivist.info/6/1/090
Johnson D. K.
Footprints in the Sand: Radical Constructivism and the Mystery of the Other.
Constructivist Foundations 6(1): 90–99.
Fulltext at https://constructivist.info/6/1/090
Context: Few professional philosophers have addressed in any detail radical constructivism, but have focused instead on the related assumptions and limitations of postmodern epistemology, various anti-realisms, and subjective relativism. Problem: In an attempt to supply a philosophical answer to the guest editors’ question, “Why isn’t everyone a radical constructivist?” I address the realist (hence non-radical) implications of the theory’s invocation of “others” as an invariable, observer-independent, “external” constraint. Results: I argue that constructivists cannot consistently defend a radically subjectivist theory of knowing while remaining entirely agnostic about the nature and existence of the larger world (including independent others). That is, any non-solipsistic account of human experience must explicitly acknowledge its extra-subjective, ontological dimension. Implications: It follows that no pedagogical, social, philosophical, or commonsensical insight associated with so-called “trivial” or “social” constructivism survives or receives any support from the move to radical constructivism.
Kauffman L. H. (2001) On the cybernetics of fixed points. Cybernetics & Human Knowing 8(1–2): 133–140. https://cepa.info/3168
Kauffman L. H.
On the cybernetics of fixed points.
Cybernetics & Human Knowing 8(1–2): 133–140.
Fulltext at https://cepa.info/3168
In his paper “Objects as Tokens for Eigenbehaviours”  Heinz von Foerster suggests that we think seriously about the mathematical structure behind the constructivist doctrine that perceived worlds are worlds created by the observer. At first glance such a statement appears to be nothing more than solipsism. At second glance, the statement appears to be a tautology, for who else can create the rich subjectivity of the immediate impression of the senses? At third glance, something more is needed. A beginning in that direction occurs with Heinz” paper. In that paper he suggests that the familiar objects of our experience are the fixed points of operators. These operators are the structure of our perception. To the extent that the operators are shared, there is no solipsism in this point of view. It is the beginning of a mathematics of second order cybernetics.
Kenny V. (2007) Distinguishing Ernst von Glasersfeld’s Radical Constructivism from Humberto Maturana’s ‘Radical Realism’. Constructivist Foundations 2(2-3): 58–64. https://cepa.info/30
Distinguishing Ernst von Glasersfeld’s Radical Constructivism from Humberto Maturana’s ‘Radical Realism’.
Constructivist Foundations 2(2-3): 58–64.
Fulltext at https://cepa.info/30
Purpose: Ernst von Glasersfeld has dedicated a lot of effort to trying to define just where his views and those of his friend Humberto Maturana part company, epistemologically speaking (Glasersfeld 1991, 2001). As a contribution to unravelling this puzzle I propose in this article to delineate just where they seem to differ most and why these differences arise. Approach: Part of my contribution is to propose drawing a distinction between von Glasersfeld’s Radical Constructivism as the last viable outpost of constructivism before entering into the domain of solipsism, in contrast to Maturana’s position which is saved from being located within the solipsistic domain by virtue of his ideas on “structure determined systems” and his theory of how language arises in human experience. Findings: Von Glasersfeld’s puzzle arises due to what Kant called “transcendental illusion,” that is, the error of trying to encompass two mutually untranslatable phenomenal domains within the same language framework. Conclusion: After an examination of some of the crucial differences between von Glasersfeld and Maturana I typify Maturana’s positioning as that of “radical realism” in contrast to von Glasersfeld’s “radical constructivism.”
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