Ideas of Michael Lockwood, by Theme

[British, 1945 - 2018, Taught by A.J.Ayer. Of Green College, Oxford, and Director of Philosophy at Rewley House, Oxford.]

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1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 7. Despair over Philosophy
There is nothing so obvious that a philosopher cannot be found to deny it
     Full Idea: There is nothing so obvious that a philosopher cannot be found to deny it.
     From: Michael Lockwood (Mind, Brain and the Quantum [1989], p.73)
     A reaction: Just as unreliable witnesses are the bane of a murder enquiry, so bad philosophers throw a cloud of obscurity round the shining heart of philosophy. 9999 people thought 2+2=4, but there is always one who thinks something different.
1. Philosophy / F. Analytic Philosophy / 3. Analysis of Preconditions
There may only be necessary and sufficient conditions (and counterfactuals) because we intervene in the world
     Full Idea: Perhaps notions of necessary and sufficient conditions, and counterfactual considerations, are in some way grounded in awareness of ourselves as active interveners and experimenters in the world, not passive spectators.
     From: Michael Lockwood (Mind, Brain and the Quantum [1989], p.155)
1. Philosophy / F. Analytic Philosophy / 7. Limitations of Analysis
No one has ever succeeded in producing an acceptable non-trivial analysis of anything
     Full Idea: I cannot think of a single philosophically interesting concept that has been successfully and nontrivially analysed to most people's satisfaction.
     From: Michael Lockwood (Mind, Brain and the Quantum [1989], p.121)
3. Truth / C. Correspondence Truth / 3. Correspondence Truth critique
If something is described in two different ways, is that two facts, or one fact presented in two ways?
     Full Idea: Do the statements 'Sir Percy Blakeney is in Paris' and 'The Scarlet Pimpernel is in Paris' express different facts, or the same fact under different modes of presentation?
     From: Michael Lockwood (Mind, Brain and the Quantum [1989], p.129)
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 1. Realism
How does a direct realist distinguish a building from Buckingham Palace?
     Full Idea: It is one thing to see a building, and another to see it as a building, and yet another to see it as Buckingham Palace. How does the commonsense realist think that this is accomplished?
     From: Michael Lockwood (Mind, Brain and the Quantum [1989], p.302)
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 4. Belief / f. Animal beliefs
Dogs seem to have beliefs, and beliefs require concepts
     Full Idea: Dogs surely have beliefs, and beliefs call for some concepts or other.
     From: Michael Lockwood (Mind, Brain and the Quantum [1989], p.312)
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 1. Perceptual Realism / b. Direct realism
Commonsense realism must account for the similarity of genuine perceptions and known illusions
     Full Idea: Commonsense realism has to account for the subjective similarity of the genuine perception of a green surface and the experience of, say, an after-image.
     From: Michael Lockwood (Mind, Brain and the Quantum [1989], p.142)
12. Knowledge Sources / D. Empiricism / 1. Empiricism
Empiricism is a theory of meaning as well as of knowledge
     Full Idea: Empiricism is not just a theory of knowledge; it is also a theory meaning.
     From: Michael Lockwood (Mind, Brain and the Quantum [1989], p.149)
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 8. Brain
A 1988 estimate gave the brain 3 x 10-to-the-14 synaptic junctions
     Full Idea: It is estimated by Gierer (1988) that the human cerebral cortex alone contains about 300,000,000,000,000 synaptic junctions.
     From: Michael Lockwood (Mind, Brain and the Quantum [1989], p.46)
     A reaction: As we grasp the vastness of this number, and the fact that the junctions are all active, the idea that a brain does something astonishing is not quite so surprising.
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 2. Unconscious Mind
How come unconscious states also cause behaviour?
     Full Idea: Anyone who thinks phenomenal qualities are inseparable from our awareness of them, must think subconscious mental states are totally devoid of phenomenal qualities! So how can these states cause behaviour in the way conscious states do?
     From: Michael Lockwood (Mind, Brain and the Quantum [1989], p.166)
     A reaction: I agree with this thought, though it is beautifully unprovable. We would need to respond to a red traffic light, without having consciously registered its presence. It is is just increasingly clear that we register information pre-consciously.
Could there be unconscious beliefs and desires?
     Full Idea: I cannot make intuitive sense of there existing a being who possessed genuine beliefs and desires, but who, or which, lacked the capacity for consciousness altogether.
     From: Michael Lockwood (Mind, Brain and the Quantum [1989], p.44)
     A reaction: This is part of the recent move (which strikes me as correct) to see qualia and intentionality as inseparable. We might well, though, need to adopt the 'intentional stance' to a sophisticated robot. But am I aware of all of my beliefs?
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 7. Blindsight
Fish may operate by blindsight
     Full Idea: If one asks 'what does the world look like to a fish?' the answer may be 'it doesn't look like anything; fish find their way about by blindsight.'
     From: Michael Lockwood (Mind, Brain and the Quantum [1989], p.56)
     A reaction: This strikes me as a real possibility, not just a wild speculation. It seems pretty obvious to me that I operate by blindsight in many aspects of my behaviour. Piano-playing would be impossible if all qualia had to be processed.
16. Persons / C. Self-Awareness / 1. Introspection
We might even learn some fundamental physics from introspection
     Full Idea: I am suggesting that introspective psychology might have a contribution to make to fundamental physics.
     From: Michael Lockwood (Mind, Brain and the Quantum [1989], p.176)
     A reaction: I'm a fan of introspection, as a source of genuine information.
17. Mind and Body / A. Mind-Body Dualism / 3. Panpsychism
Can phenomenal qualities exist unsensed?
     Full Idea: Halting the slide into panpsychism is the major advantage of holding that phenomenal qualities can exist unsensed.
     From: Michael Lockwood (Mind, Brain and the Quantum [1989], p.170)
     A reaction: Presumably unsensed phenomenal qualities would explain the discovery that we seem to make decisions before we are conscious of what we intend to do. That result certainly implied that consciousness had no real function.
17. Mind and Body / A. Mind-Body Dualism / 8. Dualism of Mind Critique
If mental events occur in time, then relativity says they are in space
     Full Idea: If we assume that mental events are located in time, then it follows immediately, given special relativity, that they are also in space.
     From: Michael Lockwood (Mind, Brain and the Quantum [1989], p.73)
     A reaction: A powerful point. Of course, there might (you never know) be something which exists in time but not space (and thoughts clearly exist in time), but (as in Hume's argument against miracles), dualism will overthrow your other basic beliefs about nature.
17. Mind and Body / B. Behaviourism / 4. Behaviourism Critique
Only logical positivists ever believed behaviourism
     Full Idea: Philosophical behaviourism is an absurd theory. Practically the only philosophers who ever held it, at any rate in its crude form, were certain logical positivists.
     From: Michael Lockwood (Mind, Brain and the Quantum [1989], p.25)
     A reaction: I presume Lockwood's target here is eliminativist behaviourism, as opposed to methodological behaviourism (which is a reasonable practice to adopt), and 'black box' behaviourism (which has been superseded by functionalism).
17. Mind and Body / E. Mind as Physical / 3. Eliminativism
Identity theory likes the identity of lightning and electrical discharges
     Full Idea: A favourite example of identity theorists is the identification of flashes of lightning with electrical discharges.
     From: Michael Lockwood (Mind, Brain and the Quantum [1989], p.71)
     A reaction: Personally I prefer the analogy of the mind being like a waterfall - a non-mysterious physical process which has dramatic properties of its own. If minds must keep busy in order to be minds, they must be processes.
18. Thought / B. Mechanics of Thought / 5. Mental Files
An identity statement aims at getting the hearer to merge two mental files
     Full Idea: The purpose of an identity statement is to get the hearer to merge these files or bodies of information into one.
     From: Michael Lockwood (Identity and Reference [1971], p.209), quoted by François Recanati - Mental Files 4.1
     A reaction: Lockwood is a pioneer, in seeing 'Hesperus is Phosphorus' and 'Scott is the author of 'Waverley'' in terms of how the mind works. Mental files seem to me to explain a huge amount. Recanati proposes 'linking' rather than 'merging'.
19. Language / A. Nature of Meaning / 5. Meaning as Verification
Perhaps logical positivism showed that there is no dividing line between science and metaphysics
     Full Idea: If the logical positivists established anything it is that there is no way of demarcating science from metaphysics.
     From: Michael Lockwood (Mind, Brain and the Quantum [1989], p.313)
     A reaction: So many problems arise for philosophers because of the passion for 'demarcating' things. Close study, experiments, statistics and measurements occur in every walk of life.
24. Applied Ethics / C. Death Issues / 3. Abortion
It isn't obviously wicked to destroy a potential human being (e.g. an ununited egg and sperm)
     Full Idea: A week-old embryo without a brain may be a potential human being, but so are a sperm and an ovum that are about to meet in a dish, and it wouldn't be wicked to keep those apart.
     From: Michael Lockwood (When Does a Life Begin? [1985], p.19)
     A reaction: Sounds fine, but it may be a slippery slope. Is it acceptable to deny a place at music school to a potentially great musician?
I may exist before I become a person, just as I exist before I become an adult
     Full Idea: It makes perfectly good sense to say that I existed before I became a person, just as I existed before I became an adult, or a philosopher.
     From: Michael Lockwood (When Does a Life Begin? [1985], p.13)
     A reaction: The word 'I' needs thought here. I was once a non-adult, but was I ever a non-person? 'Person' is not a clear concept, despite what many philosophers since Locke may think.
If the soul is held to leave the body at brain-death, it should arrive at the time of brain-creation
     Full Idea: Any Christian who feels that body and soul go their separate ways at brain death ought in consistency to hold that they come together only at the point when whatever is destroyed at brain death first came into being.
     From: Michael Lockwood (When Does a Life Begin? [1985], p.24)
     A reaction: Hence Christians probably focus less on brain-death than do doctors and the rest of us.
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 9. General Causation / b. Nomological causation
Maybe causation is a form of rational explanation, not an observation or a state of mind
     Full Idea: It is tempting to see the concept of causation as a product of reason rather than of perception or introspection; something that reason brings to bear on the data of sense, by way of imposing an explanatory order on them.
     From: Michael Lockwood (Mind, Brain and the Quantum [1989], p.154)
27. Natural Reality / C. Space-Time / 2. Time / i. Time and change
We have the confused idea that time is a process of change
     Full Idea: Somehow we have got it into our heads that time itself is a process of change.
     From: Michael Lockwood (Mind, Brain and the Quantum [1989], p.12)