Combining Philosophers

Ideas for Avicenna (Abu Ibn Sina), Georges Rey and Carlo Rovelli

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11 ideas

18. Thought / A. Modes of Thought / 2. Propositional Attitudes
Some attitudes are information (belief), others motivate (hatred) [Rey]
     Full Idea: Propositional attitudes divide into two broad types: neutral informational ones (belief, suspicion, imagining), and directional ones which motivate an agent (preference, desire, hate).
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 1.1.2)
     A reaction: Since suspicions are motivating, and preferences are informational, this is not a very sharp distinction. An alternative would be to say that there is one type, and sometimes the will gets involved.
18. Thought / B. Mechanics of Thought / 3. Modularity of Mind
Good grammar can't come simply from stimuli [Rey]
     Full Idea: Grammatical sensitivity is in no way a physical property of the stimulus, and we can't imagine how to build a device which would produce grammatical structures in response to the environment.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 4.3)
     A reaction: You could try to program it with a set of (say) Aristotelian categories, and mechanisms to sort the environment accordingly. It then has to query its database, in response to practical needs. A doddle.
Children speak 90% good grammar [Rey]
     Full Idea: Ninety percent of most young children's utterances are grammatical.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 4.2.4)
     A reaction: This is good evidence for some sort of innate element in the grammar of language. But the accurate grammar is not in a particular language. Good communication must be the driving force in all this.
18. Thought / B. Mechanics of Thought / 4. Language of Thought
Animals may also use a language of thought [Rey]
     Full Idea: The language of thought need not only be confined to creatures which speak a natural language.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 10.1.1)
     A reaction: I take it as axiomatic that our brains are no different in principles and fundamental mechanics from the lowliest of creatures. See Idea 7509.
We train children in truth, not in grammar [Rey]
     Full Idea: Very young children have been shown (Brown and Halon 1970) to be 'reinforced' not for their grammar but for the informational content of what they say.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 4.2.1)
     A reaction: This is what you would expect. It doesn't follow that the grammar comes from innate mechanisms, because the pressure to get the information right could impose increasing accuracy in grammar.
18. Thought / B. Mechanics of Thought / 6. Artificial Thought / a. Artificial Intelligence
Images can't replace computation, as they need it [Rey]
     Full Idea: Processing of images and mental models seems to require, and therefore is unlikely to replace, computation and representation.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 10.1.2)
     A reaction: A good point. If you are a fan of mental imagery, you still have to explain how we can hold an image, or recall it, or manipulate it. I always, I don't know why, wince at the thought of 'computations' among neurons.
CRTT is good on deduction, but not so hot on induction, abduction and practical reason [Rey]
     Full Idea: The computational/representational theory of thought has given a good account of deduction, but mechanical theories of induction, abduction and practical reason are needed in order to make a machine which could reason.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 8.5)
     A reaction: This is the best analysis of rationality that I have found (four components: deduction, induction, abduction, practical reason). I can think of nothing to add, and certainly none of these should be omitted.
18. Thought / C. Content / 1. Content
Problem-solving clearly involves manipulating images [Rey]
     Full Idea: Recent experiments (Shepard 1982) suggest people have imagistic representations they inspect when solving problems. In comparing two rotated images, the time for comparison varies with the angle of rotation.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 2.5.3)
     A reaction: This doesn't prove that they are slowly rotating something. It may just be harder to make the leap to the new shape, when it is 'further away'. Picturing a 20-sided figure, we don't add sides one-by-one.
Animals map things over time as well as over space [Rey]
     Full Idea: To map things like food over time, animals must somehow represent events as having temporal properties, and somehow store those representations ready for later use.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 4.3)
     A reaction: If the mechanisms for doing this are basic, then so is the ontology. Objects must be categorised, properties spotted, time-spans correlated etc. 'Represent' needs to be sharp to be useful.
18. Thought / C. Content / 6. Broad Content
Simple externalism is that the meaning just is the object [Rey]
     Full Idea: The oldest version of the externalist theory of meaning is the Fido/Fido theory, according to which the meaning of a representation is the object for which it stands.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 9.2)
     A reaction: Modern baptismal theories of reference seem to have taken us back to this, for distinct individuals such as Aristotle, or natural kinds like gold. What, though, does 'Fido' mean to me? Asthma!
18. Thought / D. Concepts / 4. Structure of Concepts / h. Family resemblance
Anything bears a family resemblance to a game, but obviously not anything counts as one [Rey]
     Full Idea: Anything bears a family resemblance to a game, but obviously not anything counts as one.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 4.3)