Vol. 34 No. 2 Spring 2013

 

Deep Naturalism: Patterns in Art and Mind

This paper addresses the philosophical problem of how a physical conceptualization of mind can account for the "metaphysical" experience of being moved by a work of art. Drawing on theories in psychology about the role that patterns play in human cognition and various other insights from the mind sciences, it is argued here that it is possible to account for some features of our aesthetic experience with some types of visual art, such as Jackson Pollock's famous drip paintings, by appealing to our evolved pattern recognition capabilities. A speculative hypothesis is offered for why we are so adept at recognizing and creating natural patterns: we embody some of the very patterns that are ubiquitous in the natural world in which we evolved. The conclusion is reached that the interaction that occurs between our embodied patterns and the obscure patterns in Pollock's drip paintings is unavailable to our conscious mind though it affects us on a deeper level and thus takes on the subjective feel of being, in a sense, metaphysical.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Liz Swan, Ph.D., Philosophy Department, 223 Preston Hall, Mercyhurst University, 501 East 38th Street, Erie, Pennsylvania 16546.
Email: lswan@mercyhurst.edu


Aristotle and Modern Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience: An Analysis of Similarities and Differences


Aristotle extended his hylomorphic theory of reality to formulate an account of human psychology. This essay examines parallels and differences between Aristotle's account and that of modern day cognitive psychology and neuroscience. Most similarities appear to exist in the areas of sensation, perception, and memory; however, at the levels of higher cognitive functioning, Aristotle would assert the need for a dualist ontology.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to James M. Stedman, Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry, University of Texas Health Science Center, 7703 Floyd Curl Drive, San Antonio, Texas 78229–7792.
Email: Stedman@uthscsa.edu


Mentalism as a Radical Behaviorist Views It — Part 1


For radical behaviorism, mentalism is an orientation to the explanation of behavior in which the cause of behavior is attributed to phenomena in an extra-behavioral dimension. The extra-behavioral dimension is often characterized by such terms as mental, cognitive, subjective, or spiritual. Some representative terms for the mental phenomena are acts, states, mechanisms, processes, representations, and cognitions. Part 1 of the present review examines definitional issues associated with mentalism and provides further examples of mentalism. The review then examines some possible reasons for adopting mentalism, from the standpoint first of mentalists themselves and then of radical behaviorists.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to J. Moore, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201.
Email: jcm@uwm.edu


The Locus of Stimuli Meaning in the Influence of Attention on Movement: Meaning-Dependent Response Activation Model


Studies are reviewed regarding the influence of attention capture (in either an endogenous or an exogenous manner) on movement. Those studies used discrete-trial movements, such as grasping or reaching for an object, to account for that influence. This review and its conclusions are derived from a more ecological, realistic perspective, taking into account the possible application of future findings on real-life tasks. In general, previous models and theories have highlighted the spatial and temporal characteristics of the way stimuli present into the visual scene. This present work is not focused on analytical, physical features of stimuli, but on a holistic, mental meaning of stimuli's representation accounting for the distinct kinds of effect given on this cognitive-processes relationship. A new perspective is proposed, relying on the meaning a stimulus can have per se, or on the context wherein a stimulus is presented, to explain prior findings and to address future issues on this topic. This original account can be applied practically to scientific analysis, for example, of those points in roads with high likelihood of car crash — also known as "black spots" in road safety. It is assumed that current road designs do not take into account possible, non-obvious counterproductive effects given by the interaction of different meanings together and inserted in a determined context.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to J.L. Vilchez. International University of La Rioja (UNIR). School of Education. 41, Gran Vía Rey Juan Carlos I, 26002, Logroño, La Rioja, Spain.
Email: jlvil@ugr.es


Problematizing Tye's Intentionalism: The Content of Bodily Sensations, Emotions, and Moods


Intentionalism claims two different assumptions. On the one hand, it defends that every mental state is directed to an object external to one's mind, which is the content of the mental state. On the other hand, the content of every mental state is always a proposition. Since some of our mental states are about something, the requirement of intentionality of our mental states seems adequate. The problem is that, when we attend to mental states such as pain, to feel love, to be sad, and other related sensations, their content seems to be non-propositional. The aim of this essay is to provide an alternative to Tye's intentionalist thesis about mental states regarding our own bodies, emotions, and moods. First, Tye's theory advocates that the content of our conscious states is identical to the representational, propositional content that an individual possesses when she is in a certain perceptual state. Second, I analyze the problematic nature of the conclusion that the content of every mental state (including our conscious states) has propositional content. Finally, Tye's thesis about the transparency of the phenomenal content of some bodily states and other related sensations is in contrast to my argument: the idea that there are some mental states that are about non-propositional objects.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Juan J. Colomina, Department of Philosophy and the Center for Mexican American Studies, The University of Texas at Austin, 2505 University Avenue, Stop F9200, Burdine Hall 574, Austin, Texas 78712.
Email: Colomina-Alminana_Juan@austin.utexas.edu


Book Review

On Orbit and Beyond: Psychological Perspectives on Human Spaceflight.
Book Author: Douglas A. Vakoch (Editor). New York: Springer. 2013, 317 pages, $129.00 hardcover.
Reviewed by George Michael, Westfield State University

Well into its sixth decade, people still wonder what achievements await the Space Age. The popular next choice would be a manned mission to Mars. According to a recent poll, 75 percent of those Americans surveyed agreed that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) budget should be substantially increased in order to fund this endeavor (Koebler, 2013). A mission to Mars, though, will test the physical and mental endurance of astronauts. Accordingly, the psychological aspects of space travel will loom larger as astronauts spend more time with one another with greater autonomy from Mission Control. In an edited volume — On Orbit and Beyond: Psychological Perspectives on Human Spaceflight — Douglas A. Vakoch, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies and also the Director of Interstellar Message Composition at the SETI Institute, assembles a collection of essays written by a number of leading experts in the field of space psychology.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to George Michael, Ph.D., Criminal Justice Department, Westfield State University, 333 Western Avenue, Westfield, Massachusetts 01086–1630.
Email: gmichael@westfield.ma.edu