Citation for this page in APA citation style.           Close


Philosophers

Mortimer Adler
Rogers Albritton
Alexander of Aphrodisias
Samuel Alexander
William Alston
Anaximander
G.E.M.Anscombe
Anselm
Louise Antony
Thomas Aquinas
Aristotle
David Armstrong
Harald Atmanspacher
Robert Audi
Augustine
J.L.Austin
A.J.Ayer
Alexander Bain
Mark Balaguer
Jeffrey Barrett
William Barrett
William Belsham
Henri Bergson
George Berkeley
Isaiah Berlin
Richard J. Bernstein
Bernard Berofsky
Robert Bishop
Max Black
Susanne Bobzien
Emil du Bois-Reymond
Hilary Bok
Laurence BonJour
George Boole
Émile Boutroux
F.H.Bradley
C.D.Broad
Michael Burke
Lawrence Cahoone
C.A.Campbell
Joseph Keim Campbell
Rudolf Carnap
Carneades
Nancy Cartwright
Gregg Caruso
Ernst Cassirer
David Chalmers
Roderick Chisholm
Chrysippus
Cicero
Randolph Clarke
Samuel Clarke
Anthony Collins
Antonella Corradini
Diodorus Cronus
Jonathan Dancy
Donald Davidson
Mario De Caro
Democritus
Daniel Dennett
Jacques Derrida
René Descartes
Richard Double
Fred Dretske
John Dupré
John Earman
Laura Waddell Ekstrom
Epictetus
Epicurus
Herbert Feigl
Arthur Fine
John Martin Fischer
Frederic Fitch
Owen Flanagan
Luciano Floridi
Philippa Foot
Alfred Fouilleé
Harry Frankfurt
Richard L. Franklin
Bas van Fraassen
Michael Frede
Gottlob Frege
Peter Geach
Edmund Gettier
Carl Ginet
Alvin Goldman
Gorgias
Nicholas St. John Green
H.Paul Grice
Ian Hacking
Ishtiyaque Haji
Stuart Hampshire
W.F.R.Hardie
Sam Harris
William Hasker
R.M.Hare
Georg W.F. Hegel
Martin Heidegger
Heraclitus
R.E.Hobart
Thomas Hobbes
David Hodgson
Shadsworth Hodgson
Baron d'Holbach
Ted Honderich
Pamela Huby
David Hume
Ferenc Huoranszki
Frank Jackson
William James
Lord Kames
Robert Kane
Immanuel Kant
Tomis Kapitan
Walter Kaufmann
Jaegwon Kim
William King
Hilary Kornblith
Christine Korsgaard
Saul Kripke
Thomas Kuhn
Andrea Lavazza
Christoph Lehner
Keith Lehrer
Gottfried Leibniz
Jules Lequyer
Leucippus
Michael Levin
Joseph Levine
George Henry Lewes
C.I.Lewis
David Lewis
Peter Lipton
C. Lloyd Morgan
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
E. Jonathan Lowe
John R. Lucas
Lucretius
Alasdair MacIntyre
Ruth Barcan Marcus
James Martineau
Storrs McCall
Hugh McCann
Colin McGinn
Michael McKenna
Brian McLaughlin
John McTaggart
Paul E. Meehl
Uwe Meixner
Alfred Mele
Trenton Merricks
John Stuart Mill
Dickinson Miller
G.E.Moore
Thomas Nagel
Otto Neurath
Friedrich Nietzsche
John Norton
P.H.Nowell-Smith
Robert Nozick
William of Ockham
Timothy O'Connor
Parmenides
David F. Pears
Charles Sanders Peirce
Derk Pereboom
Steven Pinker
Plato
Karl Popper
Porphyry
Huw Price
H.A.Prichard
Protagoras
Hilary Putnam
Willard van Orman Quine
Frank Ramsey
Ayn Rand
Michael Rea
Thomas Reid
Charles Renouvier
Nicholas Rescher
C.W.Rietdijk
Richard Rorty
Josiah Royce
Bertrand Russell
Paul Russell
Gilbert Ryle
Jean-Paul Sartre
Kenneth Sayre
T.M.Scanlon
Moritz Schlick
Arthur Schopenhauer
John Searle
Wilfrid Sellars
Alan Sidelle
Ted Sider
Henry Sidgwick
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
J.J.C.Smart
Saul Smilansky
Michael Smith
Baruch Spinoza
L. Susan Stebbing
Isabelle Stengers
George F. Stout
Galen Strawson
Peter Strawson
Eleonore Stump
Francisco Suárez
Richard Taylor
Kevin Timpe
Mark Twain
Peter Unger
Peter van Inwagen
Manuel Vargas
John Venn
Kadri Vihvelin
Voltaire
G.H. von Wright
David Foster Wallace
R. Jay Wallace
W.G.Ward
Ted Warfield
Roy Weatherford
C.F. von Weizsäcker
William Whewell
Alfred North Whitehead
David Widerker
David Wiggins
Bernard Williams
Timothy Williamson
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Susan Wolf

Scientists

David Albert
Michael Arbib
Walter Baade
Bernard Baars
Jeffrey Bada
Leslie Ballentine
Gregory Bateson
John S. Bell
Mara Beller
Charles Bennett
Ludwig von Bertalanffy
Susan Blackmore
Margaret Boden
David Bohm
Niels Bohr
Ludwig Boltzmann
Emile Borel
Max Born
Satyendra Nath Bose
Walther Bothe
Jean Bricmont
Hans Briegel
Leon Brillouin
Stephen Brush
Henry Thomas Buckle
S. H. Burbury
Melvin Calvin
Donald Campbell
Sadi Carnot
Anthony Cashmore
Eric Chaisson
Gregory Chaitin
Jean-Pierre Changeux
Rudolf Clausius
Arthur Holly Compton
John Conway
Jerry Coyne
John Cramer
Francis Crick
E. P. Culverwell
Antonio Damasio
Olivier Darrigol
Charles Darwin
Richard Dawkins
Terrence Deacon
Lüder Deecke
Richard Dedekind
Louis de Broglie
Stanislas Dehaene
Max Delbrück
Abraham de Moivre
Paul Dirac
Hans Driesch
John Eccles
Arthur Stanley Eddington
Gerald Edelman
Paul Ehrenfest
Manfred Eigen
Albert Einstein
George F. R. Ellis
Hugh Everett, III
Franz Exner
Richard Feynman
R. A. Fisher
David Foster
Joseph Fourier
Philipp Frank
Steven Frautschi
Edward Fredkin
Lila Gatlin
Michael Gazzaniga
Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen
GianCarlo Ghirardi
J. Willard Gibbs
Nicolas Gisin
Paul Glimcher
Thomas Gold
A. O. Gomes
Brian Goodwin
Joshua Greene
Dirk ter Haar
Jacques Hadamard
Mark Hadley
Patrick Haggard
J. B. S. Haldane
Stuart Hameroff
Augustin Hamon
Sam Harris
Ralph Hartley
Hyman Hartman
John-Dylan Haynes
Donald Hebb
Martin Heisenberg
Werner Heisenberg
John Herschel
Basil Hiley
Art Hobson
Jesper Hoffmeyer
Don Howard
William Stanley Jevons
Roman Jakobson
E. T. Jaynes
Pascual Jordan
Ruth E. Kastner
Stuart Kauffman
Martin J. Klein
William R. Klemm
Christof Koch
Simon Kochen
Hans Kornhuber
Stephen Kosslyn
Daniel Koshland
Ladislav Kovàč
Leopold Kronecker
Rolf Landauer
Alfred Landé
Pierre-Simon Laplace
David Layzer
Joseph LeDoux
Gilbert Lewis
Benjamin Libet
David Lindley
Seth Lloyd
Hendrik Lorentz
Josef Loschmidt
Ernst Mach
Donald MacKay
Henry Margenau
Owen Maroney
Humberto Maturana
James Clerk Maxwell
Ernst Mayr
John McCarthy
Warren McCulloch
N. David Mermin
George Miller
Stanley Miller
Ulrich Mohrhoff
Jacques Monod
Emmy Noether
Alexander Oparin
Abraham Pais
Howard Pattee
Wolfgang Pauli
Massimo Pauri
Roger Penrose
Steven Pinker
Colin Pittendrigh
Max Planck
Susan Pockett
Henri Poincaré
Daniel Pollen
Ilya Prigogine
Hans Primas
Henry Quastler
Adolphe Quételet
Lord Rayleigh
Jürgen Renn
Juan Roederer
Jerome Rothstein
David Ruelle
Tilman Sauer
Jürgen Schmidhuber
Erwin Schrödinger
Aaron Schurger
Sebastian Seung
Thomas Sebeok
Claude Shannon
David Shiang
Abner Shimony
Herbert Simon
Dean Keith Simonton
B. F. Skinner
Lee Smolin
Ray Solomonoff
Roger Sperry
John Stachel
Henry Stapp
Tom Stonier
Antoine Suarez
Leo Szilard
Max Tegmark
Libb Thims
William Thomson (Kelvin)
Giulio Tononi
Peter Tse
Francisco Varela
Vlatko Vedral
Mikhail Volkenstein
Heinz von Foerster
Richard von Mises
John von Neumann
Jakob von Uexküll
John B. Watson
Daniel Wegner
Steven Weinberg
Paul A. Weiss
Herman Weyl
John Wheeler
Wilhelm Wien
Norbert Wiener
Eugene Wigner
E. O. Wilson
Stephen Wolfram
H. Dieter Zeh
Ernst Zermelo
Wojciech Zurek
Konrad Zuse
Fritz Zwicky

Presentations

Biosemiotics
Free Will
Mental Causation
James Symposium
 
Antonio Damasio
Antonio Damasio is a neuroscientist who famously argues for the importance of emotions in the brain's decision making process. Damasio and his wife Hannah used modern brain imaging techniques to locate the parts of the brain that are active when a subject reports feelings like anxiety, fear, aggression, and other emotions.

They found that the brain region activated is in the lower middle (ventromedial) part of the prefrontal cortex (VMPFC). This region has numerous neuronal connections to the limbic region of the brain in the insular cortex, particularly the amygdala and hippocampus below.. There are two amygdalae, one in each cerebral hemisphere and they may have different specializations.

When these brain regions are damaged, a person's ability to make intelligent and responsible decisions is compromised despite their continued ability to think clearly and logically about matters of fact. Damasio finds that they have lost access to emotions that should inform their reasoning and decisions.

Descartes' Error
For Damasio, René Descartes' mind model epitomizes the neglect of emotions (or passions) in his ideal of a rational mind and a rationalist philosophy. Descartes is rightly recognized as the first modern philosopher, who based philosophy on the power of reason. He was the first of three continental philosophers, along with Baruch Spinoza and Gottfried Leibniz, who are called rationalist to contrast with three British philosophers called empiricist, John Locke, George Berkeley, and David Hume, who emphasized observations and experiments as the primary source for understanding the nature of reality. [Francis Bacon is mentioned less frequently, but many consider Bacon the "father of empiricism."]

Damasio focuses in on Descartes' most famous statement, "Cogito, Ergo Sum."

Descartes is rejoic­ing with the discovery of a proposition so undeniably true that no amount of skepticism will shake it:
. . . and remarking that this truth “I think, therefore lam ’’was so certain and so assured that all the most extravagant supposi­tions brought forward by the sceptics were incapable of shaking it, I came to the conclusion that I would receive it without scruple as the first principle of the Philosophy for which I was seeking.

Here Descartes was after a logical foundation for his philosophy, and the statement was not unlike Augustine’s "Fallor ergo sum" (I am deceived therefore I am). But just a few lines below, Descartes clarifies the statement unequivocally:

From that I knew that I was a substance, the whole essence or nature of which is to think, and that for its existence there is no need of any place, nor does it depend on any material thing; so that this “me,” that is to say, the soul by which I am what I am, is entirely distinct from body, and is even more easy to know than is the latter; and even if body were not, the soul would not cease to be what it is.

This is Descartes’ error: the abyssal separation between body and mind, between the sizable, dimensioned, mechanically operated, infinitely divisible body stuff, on the one hand, and the unsizable, undimensioned, un-pushpullable, nondivisible mind stuff; the sug­gestion that reasoning, and moral judgment, and the suffering that comes from physical pain or emotional upheaval might exist sepa­rately from the body. Specifically: the separation of the most refined operations of mind from the structure and operation of a biological organism.

Of course most philosophers know well that David Hume had completely reversed Descartes' priority of reason, saying that reason alone can never be a motive to any action of the will; and secondly, that it can never oppose passion in the direction of the will. For Hume, reason should be the "slave" of passion.

Damasio may not go that far, but he is correct that emotions, desires, play a major role in our free decisions, as they do in our two-stage Cogito model.

The Somatic Marker Hypothesis
As a neuroscientist, Damasio hopes to locate the emotions in the brain, just as others hope to locate the site of our memories and our knowledge.

For several years Damasio has been developing his concept of "somatic markers," presumably stored in the prefrontal cortex.

What does the somatic marker achieve? It forces attention on the negative outcome to which a given action may lead, and functions as an automated alarm signal which says: Beware of danger ahead if you choose the option which leads to this outcome. The signal may lead you to reject, immediately, the negative course of action and thus make you choose among other alternatives. The automated signal protects you against future losses, without further ado, and then allows you to choose from among fewer alternatives. There is still room for using a cost/benefit analysis and proper deductive compe­tence, but only after the automated step drastically reduces the number of options. Somatic markers may not be sufficient for nor­mal human decision-making since a subsequent process of reason­ ing and final selection will still take place in many though not all instances. Somatic markers probably increase the accuracy and efficiency of the decision process. Their absence reduces them. This distinction is important and can easily be missed. The hypothesis does not concern the reasoning steps which follow the action of the somatic marker. In short, somatic markers are a special instance of feelings generated from secondary emotions. Those emotions and feelings have been connected, by learning, to predicted future out­ comes of certain scenarios. When a negative somatic marker is jux­taposed to a particular future outcome the combination functions as an alarm bell. When a positive somatic marker is juxtaposed instead, it becomes a beacon of incentive.
Damasio says his hypothesis is grounded in principles of evolution, homeostatic self-regulation, and the brain as part of a biological organism, but he gives us little information on what markers are in neurobiological terms. He adds little to his hypothesis in his later books. In the 1999 The Feeling of What Happens he says that his patients with neurological damage in regions (like the amygdala) which regulate emotions have lost their ability to make value judgments, even though they can still reason properly about matters of fact.

This hypothesis is known as the somatic-marker hypothesis, and the patients who led me to propose it had damage to selected areas in the prefrontal region, especially in the ventral and medial sectors, and in the right parietal regions. Whether because of a stroke or head injury or a tumor which required surgical resection, damage in those regions was consistently associated with...a disturbance of the ability to decide advanta­geously in situations involving risk and conflict and a selective reduc­tion of the ability to resonate emotionally in precisely those same situations, while preserving the remainder of their emotional abilities.
And in his 2010 Self Comes to Mind, Damasio's "markers" have been those "feelings" that separate the things that constitute the self from those that do not. He still gives us no specific location nor any neurobiological mechanism for a marker. Now they are just feelings that "accomplish a distinction between self and nonself."

Damasio here also claims that the "degree of emotion" in the markers indicate the "relative importance" (value?) in things...

The degree of emotion serves as a “marker” for the relative importance of the image. This is the mechanism described in the “somatic marker hypothesis.” The somatic marker does not need to be a fully formed emotion, overtly experienced as a feeling. (That is what a “gut feeling” is.) It can be a covert, emotion-related signal of which the subject is not aware, in which case we refer to it as a bias. The notion of somatic markers is applicable not just to high levels of cogni­tion but to those earlier stages of evolution. The somatic marker hypothesis offers a mechanism for how brains would execute a value-based selection of images and how that selection would translate in edited continuities of images. In other words, the principle for the selection of images was connected to life-management needs. I suspect the same principle presided over the design of primordial narrative structures, which involved the organism’s body, its status, its interac­tions, and its wanderings in the environment.
We can assign values not only to images, but to all past experiences, by recalling (reproducing) the emotions that accompanied past experiences. If each experience records the emotions felt during a past experience, the emotions will be reproduced when new experiences resemble some from the past. Past experiences provide context, meaning, and value to the new. These fit the description of what Damasio describes as "gut feelings" that help brains "execute a value-based transaction," namely decisions between alternative possibilities.

Donald Hebb said "neurons that fire together wire together." Our Experience Recorder and Reproducer model of the mind says that "neurons that have been wired together will fire together" when new experiences cause just some of those neurons to fire again, because of its resemblance to the past experience.

Books
Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain, Putnam, 1994
The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness, 1999
Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain, 2003
Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain, 2010
The Strange Order of Things: Life, Feeling, and the Making of Cultures, 2018.
Normal | Teacher | Scholar