[MaFLa] invitation to a talk on"The Works and Attributes of Soul: A Non-Functionalist Interpretation of Cognitive Contents in Aristotle's De Anima I" - 18 March, 5.30 PM

Krisztina Biber Biberk at ceu.hu
Wed Mar 12 10:23:53 CET 2014


 
The CEU Department of Philosophy cordially invites you to a talk 
(as part of its Departmental Colloquium series)
by
Ryan Cook (CEU) 
on
"The Works and Attributes of Soul: A Non-Functionalist Interpretation of Cognitive Contents in Aristotle's De Anima I"
 Tuesday, 18 March, 2014, 5.30 PM, Zrinyi 14, Room 412
 

ABSTRACT
 
Over the past forty years, it has been increasingly common for scholars of the De Anima to treat Aristotle as a sort of proto-functionalist. On such an interpretation, the Aristotelian souls of living organisms explain psychological activities such as perception, emotion, and desire by subsuming them within the wider context of an organism's purposive behaviours, and all genuinely scientific definitions of these activities will eschew references to private mental contents in favour of functional roles occupied by a variety of material realizers. In this way, it is claimed, Aristotle avoids the traditional pitfalls associated with Platonic Dualism, and provides a uniquely hylomorphic solution to the mind-body problem. Since all putatively psychic states are in fact only bodily states understood in a certain way, there is no question as to how such psychic states might be capable of causing or being produced by various physical changes, and no need to posit a sui generis realm of psychic or mental contents.
 
I believe we have several reasons to reject this proto-functionalist interpretation, and take
Aristotle's considered explanations of various cognitive activities to require precisely the sorts of irreducibly psychic or mental states it intends to eliminate. In this talk, I will examine some of these reasons, and offer a close reading of two De Anima I passages that are standardly held to require such proto-functionalist construals. When read in their proper context, I shall claim, neither of these texts demands the sorts of reductionist readings favoured by contemporary interpreters, and each in fact contains claims and arguments which suggest the ontologically richer account I favour.
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