Mind, Mechanism and Meaning: Reclaiming Social Normativity within Cognitive Science and Philosophy of Mind

Date: 25 June 2018

Venue: Nottebohmzaal - Erfgoedbibliotheek Hendrik Conscience - Hendrik Conscienceplein 4 - 2000 Antwerpen

Time: 3:00 PM - 5:30 PM

Organization / co-organization: Faculteit Letteren en Wijsbegeerte

PhD candidate: Farid Zahnoun

Principal investigator: prof. dr. Erik Myin

Short description: PhD defence Farid Zahnoun - Faculty of Arts - Department of Philosophy



Mind, Mechanism and Meaning: Reclaiming Social Normativity within Cognitive Science and Philosophy of Mind

The dissertation, titled Mind, Mechanism and Meaning, critically investigates two central assumptions of mainstream cognitive science and philosophy of mind: the commitment to the notion of internal representation on the one hand, and to the idea of the multiple realizability of the mental on the other. With regard to the notion of internal representation, the dissertation argues that this notion is ultimately untenable in that, to the effect that internal representations are understood as content-carrying vehicles with causal explanatory power, the notion is grounded in a confusion between the descriptive and the prescriptive/normative. The thesis is defended that all content-carrying entities, including representations, are socio-normatively constituted and should therefore be excluded from non-normative causal explanations of cognition. The results of the research support a non-representational approach to mind and cognition, as exemplified in various forms of E-Cognition, particularly in radical enactive/embodied approaches. Understanding human cognition requires taking into account the whole subject, that is, the subject as ‘embrained’, embodied, and embedded within an enacted normative intersubjective niche.

With regard to the idea of the multiple realizability of the mental, the dissertation argues that the idea can only be made intelligible against a particular metaphysical background, one that does not sit well with the intersubjective normative notions the idea of multiple realization conceptually relies on (types). Furthermore, it is argued that, even if we were to accept such a metaphysics, multiple realization is still not capable of providing the argument against identity theory which  has come to be so widely accepted. The thesis is defended that there really is no argument against an identity theory, and that, in addition, assuming a strict identity between the mental and the physical is still a viable, perhaps even the only viable approach to the Hard Problem of Consciousness. 



Contact email: Farid.Zahnoun@uantwerpen.be

Link: https://www.uantwerpen.be/en/research-groups/filop/