If you haven’t gone over to The Brains Blog to view the Mind & Language symposium on Jean-Rémy Martin and François Le Corre’s “Sensory Substitution Is Substitution,” part of the journal’s April 2015 issue, you should. It’s an interesting perspective on what we normally think of as our other senses compensating for the lack of vision. Highly technical, this article and the subsequent symposium present the argument that the type of information processed by a SSD is metamodal and that the phenomenology is best described in terms of spatial phenomenology, only.
In addition, it also has been shown that they [the Vertical-Horizontal Illusion and the Ponzo Illusion] are equally and identically present in early blind people and that they usually depend on the same modulating factors as in vision (Gentaz and Hatwell, 2004).
If you’re interested in the entire article, you can view it on the Wiley Online Library, free through June 15th. Check out the symposium to get join the conversation on the topic.
We are delighted to announce that we have launched a new Feminist Philosophy section of Philosophy Compass. This new section will be headed up by Alia Al-Saji (bio below), who is currently commissioning articles to be published in 2013. In the meantime, the section homepage will feature previously-published Philosophy Compass articles that touch on aspects of feminist philosophy. Welcome aboard, Alia!
Section Editor Bio: Alia Al-Saji
Alia Al-Saji is Associate Professor of Philosophy at McGill University. Her research brings together and critically engages 20th century phenomenology and French philosophy, on the one hand, and contemporary critical race and feminist theories, on the other. She has published articles and chapters in such venues as Continental Philosophy Review, Philosophy and Social Criticism, Research in Phenomenology, Southern Journal of Philosophy, and the Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, as well as in anthologies in German, French and English. Alia is currently a co-editor of the Symposia on Gender, Race and Philosophy, and she is completing a term as member-at-large on the executive committee of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy.
We recently caught up with Jesús Ilundáin-Agurruza and Michael W. Austin, the editors of Cycling – Philosophy for Everyone, released last year. We caught up with them recently and asked them a few questions about their editorial approach, and sound out why cycling is surprisingly complex and philosophically rich.
Why did you decide to edit a book on cycling and philosophy?
A colleague wrote that Ilundáin had found his calling with this project. But he’d rather say the book and the calling found him serendipitously when he saw the series editor Fritz Allhoff’s call for proposals. Mike Austin was first to sprint for it and get the nod, but graciously offered to edit this as a tandem. It made sense because our combined experience meant we would steer the project in the right direction (and we think it has covered philosophically fascinating terrain).
What are some of the central concerns of the book, and why are they important?
One of our main goals was to capture the experiential and philosophical richness that cycling embodies. It is a seemingly simple activity that offers a surprisingly complex nature when examined philosophically. Another concern was to use the appeal of cycling—cyclists are a very passionate group of people—to stimulate philosophical and intellectual thinking in a way that was fun yet rigorous. As Plato said, we never learn Continue reading “Interview: Cycling and Philosophy”
What’s the next best thing to being able to see a few seconds into the future? Simulating the ability to see into the immediate future. And according to a study by Moser and Moser appearing in the January 11th issue of Nature, mammalian brains already take advantage of the benefits from simulating this ability by ‘preplaying’ anticipated experiences.
As the authors explain, we have known for some time that, immediately after navigating a novel spatial environment, the brain ‘replays’ the neural sequence of the just-past experience. Observation in mice has also shown that these sequences can be replayed during sleep.
However, mice have also shown the ability to ‘preplay’ a neural sequence when navigating a novel environment. Thus, a mouse at rest before a closed door in a maze will undergo a sequence of neural activity that is repeated once the door is opened. The brain appears to have a go at running through the neural sequence of an anticipated experience prior to (in this experiment) turning the corner of a maze. Where the preplayed sequence matches the real time experience, the mouse can be said to have successfully anticipated its future environment.
Phenomenologist Edmund Husserl insisted that temporal consciousness cannot be restricted to a brute ‘now’, but must be broad enough to include experience of the just-past and of the about-to-be. Has Husserl’s phenomenological description of temporal consciousness been (in part) vindicated by neuroscience?
Chistopher Nolan’s imaginative and visually stunning thriller Inception is looking more and more like the hit film of the summer, if not the year. I won’t write here about the nature of the film as danielwilson’s post already does that. Instead, I’ll be concentrating on the ways in which the movie draws on epistemological problems first raised by Descartes. (Guaranteed spoiler-free!)
Unusually for a commercially successful movie, Inception raises a number of engaging (if well-worn) questions. Indeed, publishers have been quick to see the appeal of the film for philosophers and their students, with open calls for abstracts issued by both Open Court and Blackwell within just a few days of each other.
The central question raised by the film is familiar from a number of sci-fi films, most reminiscently evoking the epistemological conundrums of The Matrix. How does one know when one is dreaming? Pinch me?
The Philosopher’s Eye was sad to see that the charismatic and idiosyncratic philosopher Alexander Piatigorsky passed away earlier this month. Piatigorsky was a professor at the London School of Oriental and African studies (SOAS) until his retirement in 2001. (Sir Isaiah Berlin had intervened to ensure his appointment after he fled the USSR.) The topics on which he wrote ranged from the failures of totalitarian communism to Buddhist thought and even to Freemasonry. Piatigorsky was also a talented linguist – he compiled the first Russian-Tamil dictionary – and a novelist.
But the volume which is perhaps best known amongst philosophers in England is “Symbol and Consciousness: Metaphysical Discussion of Consciousness, Symbolism and Language” (1982), which he co-authored with Merab Mamardashvili. Continue reading “R.I.P. Alexander Piatigorsky”