Advanced Topics in Mind, Language and Embodied Cognition 2011-12 (MSc)

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Feb 23, 2014 (3 years and 7 months ago)

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Advanced Topics in Mind, L
anguage and

Embodied
Cognition 2011
-
12 (MSc)


PHIL11038


Course organizer: Dave Ward (
Dave.Ward@ed.ac.uk
)
, Office hours: Wednesdays
10am
-
12, or by appointment.


Course Website:
http://havingthought2012.wordpress.com



John Haugeland: Having Thought


Course Description:
This course will
be based on

our reading and
discussing the arguments and themes of a selection of the papers
from John

Haugeland’s collection of essays,
Having Thought

(1
998,
Harvard University Press).
During the first couple of weeks we will
take a quick tour through some of the key themes and motifs in the
book, in sessions that will consist in short presentations from
me,
followed by group discussion.

In
each subsequent week

we will read
one chapter from the book, plus occasional auxiliary

readings. O
ur
meetings and discussions will be
based

on presentations by course
participants

inspired by themes from the readings
. M
ore on what
these should involve below




Why Haugeland?
John Haugeland was one of the
founding fathers of
the Embodied Turn in philosophy of cognitive science. His work
shows a path from the early roots of that turn in Charles Taylor and
Hubert Dreyfus, t
hrough the cognitivist, representationalist heyday
of the 1980s and early 90s, to the study of embodied, embedded
cognition as we know it today. Like many who contributed to the
Embodied Turn, Haugeland has done important work on the
conceptual foundations

of AI, the metaphysics of mind,

the
relationship between language and cognition,

and the way that work
in the existential phenomenological tradition can shed light on
analytic
phi
losophy mind and cognitive science. Haugeland

is
unusual, though, in having
drawn on his work on all these topics to
address Big Questions in the philosophy of mind concerning truth,
objectivity, and what it means to be human. The essays we will read
and discuss on this course touch on all these topics, so there should
be somethin
g to interest everyone.


Assessment
will be by one 2500 word essay,
to be handed in by 4pm

on
Tuesday 10
th

of April

to the PPLS postgraduate office (Room 1.06
of the DSB). Your essay can be on any of the readings or themes
covered by the course, but
topi
cs
should be agreed upon with me
in
advance
.

Ideally, you should use the feedback gleaned from online
and offline discussion of
class

presentation
s

(see below) to hone and
improve the argument of your essay.


Presentations
:
From week 3 onwards classes will

be based on
presentations inspired by the reading for the current week. We will
agree on the order in which people will present at the end of week 2.
There will be 2 presentations per class, with
around 50

minutes

allocated

for each presentation and ensui
ng discussion. As a
presenter, how you use this time is largely up to you. Presentations
should last for a minimum of 15 minutes and a maximum of 30
minutes. But if you elect to give a short presentation, bear in mind
that it is your responsibility to guid
e and sustain the discussion until
the allotted time is up.


You also have a large degree of freedom as to the material you choose
to present on. Your presentation should be ‘inspired by’ the reading
for the relevant week, and you should bear in mind that

this will be
what your classmates are prepared to discuss and comment upon.
However, your presentation need not be a simple summary and
critical evaluation of that week’s reading (though this would be
perfectly acceptable).

You might, for example, choose

to focus on a
particular theme from the reading and present alternative
s to
Haugeland’s treatment of it. Or y
ou might choose to
examine the
potential ramifications of some aspect of Haugeland’s views for other
areas of philosophy or cognitive science. If
you are having trouble
choosing a presentation topic, or wondering whether a topic is
suitable, don’t hesitate to contact me.


In some cases, you might want to stipulate a piece of reading in
addition to the Haugeland for that week, in order to help people

follow and critically engage with your presentation. If so, you should
post a link to the reading on the course webpage no later than the
Friday preceding your presentation.


Course Webpage:
There is a webpage
/blog

for the course at:


http://havingthought2012.wordpress.com


Course participants should create a wordpress account to allow them
to post and comment on the blog. The chief function of the blog is as a
forum where we can discuss issue
s

arising

from the

course

readings
and presentations outwith our weekly meetings. After your
presentations, you
should

post a summary of your main conclusions
and the outcomes of the group discussion, after which the comment
thread for the post can serve as a forum

for
continued discussion of
issues of interest. Hopefully this way we can create a useful resource
for advancing our understanding of Having Thought!
We will also use
the blog as a place to post links and papers of i
nterest to those on the
course.


Weekly

Topics and Readings


Most

of the chapters and papers we will be reading are available
online (often at:
http://philosophy.uchicago.edu/faculty/haugeland.html
).
Where this isn’t the case
,
copies will be uploaded to the

WebCT page
for the course.


As noted above, the required reading for each week

(marked with a
‘*’ in the lists below)

will be a chapter from Haugeland. The
presenters for each week may also wish to
post a link to an additio
nal
reading on the blog.

As noted above, this should be done no later than
the Friday preceding the seminar of the presentation.

Other than
these

readings
, you are encouraged to let your own interests guide
you in your choice of secondary readings. Part of

the aim of this
course is to give you experience in orienting yourself in the literature
with respect to a topic or author. If you find readings that you feel are
of particular interest for topics or discussions arising from the
course,
you are encouraged

to

share them on the blog.


Week 1: Orientation

A brief introduction to the course (consisting in a brief tour through
this syllabus) and a summary of the main themes of
Having Thought
.


Reading

*
No re
ading required in advance of this

class, but it would

be a good
idea to start working your way through the papers we’ll be reading
from
HT
to get a sense of the topics on which you’d like to present
and lead discussion.


A natural place to start your background reading is Haugeland’s
introduction to
HT
,
whic
h includes chapter summaries and an
overview of the books themes
:

“Toward a New Existentialism
”, pp.1
-
9 in
HT

[and on WebCT]


Dan Dennett has a nice review of
HT

here:

Journal of Philosophy
, vol.96, No.8 (August 1999), pp.430
-
435


This interview with John
Haugeland from 2006 provides a
n

overview
of
some of
the main ideas in his work:

http://www.eurozine.com/pdf/2006
-
09
-
05
-
haugeland
-
en.pdf


As does this commentary

by Haugeland

on
The Mi
nd’s Provisions
by
Vincent Descombes:

Haugeland, J. (2004) “Closing the last loophole: joining forces with
Vincent Descombes”,
Inquiry
, 47:3, 254
-
266


Week 2: Background and Context

This week we’ll think about the ‘Frame Problem’ in AI, and consider
how H
augeland’s understanding of the problem and the challenge it
poses shapes his views. The class will begin with a short presentation
from me, followed by discussion of the required reading. We will
spend the end of the class organizing the schedule of prese
ntations
for the rest of the semester.


Reading

* Haugeland, J. (1987)

“An Overview of the Frame Problem,” in
The
Robot's Dilemma
, Zenon P
ylyshyn, ed., Ablex Publishing, pp.
77
-
93.

*
Haugeland, J. (1996) “Review of
What Computers Still Can’t Do
”,
Artificia
l Intelligence
, 80, pp.119
-
128

(Both accessible via link on Haugeland’s website)


Chapter 2 of
HT
, ‘Understanding Natural Language’ is also relevant
(accessible via Haugeland’s website)


A good summary of Dreyfus’s views of the failures of AI (and recent
e
mbodied cognitive science) is here:

Dreyfus, H. (2007) “Why Heideggerian AI failed, and how fixing it
would require making it more Heideggerian”,
Philosophical
Psychology
, 20(2), pp.247
-
268


And a recent response to Dreyfus on behalf of embodied cogsci is:

Wheeler, M. (2008) “Cognition in Context: Phenomenology, Situated
Robotics and the Frame Problem”,
International Journal of
Philosophical Studies
, 16(3), pp.323
-
349


Week 3: The Nature and Plausibility of Cognitivism

From this week onwards, our sessions w
ill be organized around
presentations inspired by chapters from
HT
, and ensuing discussion.
This week focuses on chapter one, where Haugeland attempts to
define cognitivism, and makes an initial stab at articulating his
suspicions regarding it.


Reading

*

Haugeland (1981) “The nature and plausibility of cognitivism”,
Behavioural and Brain Sciences
, I, pp.215
-
226 (or
chapter 1 of
HT
)


A natural place to start your secondary reading
is with the peer
commentary in
BBS

and Haugeland’s responses. You might have
a
skim through, pick two or three commentaries that seem the most
interesting, then look at them in detail. But let your search for
secondary reading go where your interests take you, and don’t forget
to post links to useful readings or discussions that yo
u’ve found
yourself on the blog!


Some possible research/presentation topics:



Does Haugeland’s characterization of cognitivism identify a
real research programme, either at the time of writing or 30
years later?



Which is the most serious, or interesting of

Haugeland’s
reservations about cognitivism? Are the reservations related?



How might actual or possible cognitivists respond?


Week 4: The Intentionality All
-
Stars

We skip all the way to chapter 7 this week, a taxonomy of attempts to
naturalise intentional
ity
, organized according to the fielding
positions of a baseball team
.


Reading

*

Haugeland (1990) “The Intentionality All
-
stars”, in

Philosophical
Perspectives 4: Action Theory and Philosophy of Mind
, James E.
Tomberlin (ed.) (Copyright by Ridgeview Publi
shing Co., Atascadero,
CA, 1990), pp.387
-
427 (or chapter 7 of
HT
, also available on
Haugeland’s website)


A natural starting point for secondary reading would be to pick one
of the bases Haugeland considers then read more about it (e.g. Fodor,
Davidson, Br
andom).


Some possible research/presentation topics:



Which base houses the right approach to intentionality?



Should we respect the boundaries between the bases?



How do nuances of baseball theory and practice provide
helpful context and clarification for Ha
ugeland’s treatment?


Week 5:
Mind Embodied and Embedded

A classic paper, and a catalyst of the embodied turn in philosophy of
cognitive science. Many of you will have read

this

already, but it
merits revisiting!


Reading

*
Haugeland (
1995) “Mind Embodied
and Embedded”, in
Mind and
Cognition: Philosophical Perspectives on Cognitive Science and
Artificial Intelligence
, Leila Haaparanta and Sara Heinämaa, eds.,
Acta
Philosophica Fennica

58, pp.233
-
267 (
chapter 9 of
HT,
and available
on Haugeland’s website).


The range of further readings and research topics relevant to this
paper is extremely broad, potentially encompassing all work in
embodied, embedded, extended and enactive cognition since 1995!
Post suggestions
that

are close to your heart

on the blog!


We
ek 6:
Innovative Learning Week

No seminar this week.

See:
http://www.ppls.ed.ac.uk/events/innovative
-
learning
-
week
-
20
-
24
-
february
-
2012

for details of the activit
ies on offer. Keep blogging!


Week 7:
Representational Genera

The last of the taxonomical/methodological papers by Haugeland
we’ll be focused on, this paper aims to identify and taxonomise
several distinct kinds of representation, and ascertain what might
be
explanatorily or theoretically unique about each.


Reading

*

Haugeland (1991) “Representational Genera” in
Philosophy and
Connectionist Theory,
W.
Ramsey
, S. Stich and D. Rumelhart, eds.,
Hillsdale, Lawrence Erlbaum, pp.61
-
89 (chapter 8 of
HT
, and
avail
able on Haugeland’s website)


Again, the range of readings and research topics relevant to the
taxonomy and explanatory role of representations in cognitive
science is vast. Let your own research interests guide you, and post
thoughts and suggestions on th
e blog.


Week 8: Objective Perception

Beginning this week, the paper
s we will read concern Haugeland’s
distinctive take

on the problems and questions he has raised for
philosophy of cognitive science. This essay introduces Haugeland’s
central notion of ‘au
tonomous commitment to constitutive standards’
and uses it to frame a solution to a problem about the objects of
perception.


Reading

* Haugeland (1996)

“Objective Perception”, in
Perception: Vancouver
Studies in Cognitive Science, Volume V,
K. Akins (ed
.)
, NY, Oxford
University Press, pp. 258
-
289 (chapter 10 in
HT
, and available here:

http://www.philosophy.ed.ac.uk/events/seminars/documents/Haug
eland
-
ObjectivePerception.pdf
)



Other readings and research topics here might concern the
informational (and other) theories of semantics that Haugeland
rejects, or the Big Question of whether a partially observer
-
dependent account of objectivity such as that
Haugeland adopts can
do justice to our realist intuitions.


Week 9: Pattern and Being

This chapter is ostensibly a commentary on some of Dennett’s work
on the Intentional Stance, but takes up and elaborates the ideas about
objectivity and mindedness that H
augeland sketched in the previous
chapter.


Reading

* Haugeland (1993) “Pattern and Being”, in
Dennett and His Critics
, B.
Dahlbom, ed, Cambridge MA, Basil Blackwell, pp.53
-
69

(chapter 11 in
HT,
and available on Haugeland’s website)


Further reading and re
search here might focus on assessing the
import of Haugeland’s analysis for Dennett’s views on intentionality
or, more generally, work centering around the large themes of
objectivity and the necessary conditions for mindedness that are in
play.


Week 10:
Haugedegger

We should now have enough of Haugeland’s framework in view to be
able to see how it relates to his work on Heidegger. Haugeland, again
building on important work by Dreyfus, was among the first to bring
Phenomenology into serious and fruitful c
ontact with issues in
philosophy of cognitive science. We’ll look at a couple of his papers in
this area.


Reading


*
Haugeland (1982) “Heidegger on Being a Person”,
Noûs,
16, pp.15
-
26 (also available on Haugeland’s website)

* Haugeland (1990) “Dasein’s Di
sclosedness”,
Southern Journal of
Philosophy
, 28 (S1), pp.51
-
73


Further reading and research here might focus on the differences
between Haugeland’s appropriation of Heidegger and that of others,
such as Dreyfus and Wheeler, on the extent to which Heidegg
er
provides materials that can genuinely bolster and illuminate
Haugeland’s views, or on any of the philosophical or cognitive
scientific issues arising from the Heideggerian framework.


Week 11: Truth and Rule
-
following

This is the final and, according to

many, most important chapter in
HT.
It is long and difficult, but our immersion in all things Haugeland
for the semester

should make things much easier. This is the most
detailed and sustained attempt to spell out the ideas of constitution,
commitment and

objectivity that have taken up the last weeks of the
course, and will hopefully round off the semester by neatly tying
together all the threads that have run through the course!


Reading

* Haugeland (1998) “Truth and Rule
-
Following”, chapter 13 in
HT
(and

will be available on WebCT)


There should be no shortage of potential ideas for further reading
and research here


relevant topics include all of those mentioned
above, and many more besides!