Thursday, July 28, 2011

new Mandik book forthcoming: This is Philosophy of Mind

I have just received the signed contract for a book project I'm working on for Wiley-Blackwell: This is Philosophy of Mind: An Introduction. The book is part of a forthcoming series of introductory philosophy texts edited by Steven Hales. Distinctive of the series are various planned tie-ins with online resources. I plan on creating a companion blog to go along with the book, which will feature supplemental material.

I hope to have more news on the project in coming weeks. Stay tuned!

[link to proposal]

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mental Colors Published

My paper,"Mental Colors, Conceptual Overlap, and Discriminating Knowledge of Particulars" has been published online at Consciousness and Cognition here:

See also:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

Help rename the 8-bit Criminals

Calling all Hammerheads
Dear Hammerheads,

The New York Consciousness Collective spinoff, 8-bit Criminals, is renaming itself. The tiny subset of you who give a shit are hereby invited to help. If you are reading this message in a feed reader or printed on a slip of paper in a bottle that just washed up on your beach, you may need it pointed out to you that there is a poll you can vote in on the right-side column of the Brain Hammer blog. The poll is open until 7/25/2011. Multiple votes are permitted.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Empirical support for higher-order theories of conscious awareness

ScienceDirect - Trends in Cognitive Sciences : Empirical support for higher-order theories of conscious awareness:

by Hakwan Lau and David Rosenthal

Higher-order theories of consciousness argue that conscious awareness crucially depends on higher-order mental representations that represent oneself as being in particular mental states. These theories have featured prominently in recent debates on conscious awareness. We provide new leverage on these debates by reviewing the empirical evidence in support of the higher-order view. We focus on evidence that distinguishes the higher-order view from its alternatives, such as the first-order, global workspace and recurrent visual processing theories. We defend the higher-order view against several major criticisms, such as prefrontal activity reflects attention but not awareness, and prefrontal lesion does not abolish awareness. Although the higher-order approach originated in philosophical discussions, we show that it is testable and has received substantial empirical support.

double-plus good

Alright, brainy/thinky-type people, let's go plus it up. See you on the other side.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Morgan Freeman saying "The New York Consciousness Collective" and other things

Here are a bunch of mp3s of Morgan Freeman saying stuff like:
"The New York Consciousness Collective," "an elite group of
philosophers," and "trying to understand the nature and limits of
Ganked from Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman.

All Together Now by Morgan Freeman Listen on Posterous

The New York Consciousness Collective by Morgan Freeman Listen on Posterous

An Elite Group Of Philosophers by Morgan Freeman Listen on Posterous

Trying To Understand The Nature And Limits Of Consciousness by Morgan Freeman Listen on Posterous

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Philosophy of Cognitive Science at Oxford Bibliographies Online

Mandik, P. (2011). Philosophy of Cognitive Science. Oxford Bibliographies Online: Philosophy. doi: 10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0019

Cognitive science is an interdisciplinary study of the mind loosely united by the idea that the mind is a computer. Philosophy is one of the main contributing disciplines (along with psychology, neuroscience, linguistics, and computer science), and many of its contributions concern the conceptual foundations of the separate disciplines (e.g., psychology and artificial intelligence), explorations of the relations between the disciplines (e.g., is psychology reducible to neuroscience?), and examinations of core uniting ideas (e.g., how best can we understand the idea that the mind is a computer?). Much contemporary philosophy of cognitive science overlaps with contemporary philosophy of mind. The present work tries as much as possible to focus on work peculiar to the philosophy of cognitive science, but the reader is advised to see pertinent work discussed in other Oxford Bibliographies Online articles, especially Metaphysics of Mind and Consciousness.

Gareth Evans


Mandik, Pete. (2005). Gareth Evans. In: The Dictionary of Twentieth-Century British Philosophers. Bristol, UK: Thoemmes Continuum.


EVANS, Gareth (1946-1980)


Gareth Evans (Michael Gareth Justin Evans) was born in London 12 May 1946 and died in London on 10 August 1980. He was educated at Dulwich College (1961-1962) and later at Oxford, where he was heavily influenced by his teacher, P. F. Strawson. In 1963, Evans won the Gladstone Open Scholarship in History at University College, Oxford. In 1965 he passed his PPE (Philosophy, Politics & Economics) exam prelims with distinction and in 1967 he was first in his class in the PPE finals. He won a Senior Scholarship at Christ Church, Oxford. He won a Kennedy Scholarship in 1968, allowing him to spend academic year 1968-1969 in the United States at Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley. Evans returned to Oxford where he would be a Fellow from 1969 to 1979. In 1979 Evans was elected to the Wilde Readership in Mental Philosophy. On 2 June 1980 Evans was diagnosed with cancer and on 11 June 1980 he was privately married to Antonia Philips in the University College Hospital.


Evans best known work, the posthumously published The Varieties of Reference was an incomplete manuscript at the time of his death and edited by John McDowell. The primary significance of Varieties is for the philosophy of language but it has had significance for the philosophy of mind as well. The varieties referred to in the title are varieties of referring expressions, that is, expressions understood as distinct from predicates and quantificational phrases in virtue of their distinct contributions to the semantic values of sentences. The primary semantic value of a referring expression is its referent, the thing it refers to. Following Frege, some philosophers have argued that referring expressions have a sense in addition to a referent, where a sense is conceived of as the mode of presentation of the referent. According to Evans, the two main varieties of referring expressions are those whose semantic values include Fregean senses and those whose semantic values do not include Fregean senses. Proper names, Evans argued, are referring expressions that lack Fregean senses, since they can be understood without any description being associated with the referent in the mind of the speaker or hearer. Referring expressions that have Fregean senses, according to Evans, include demonstratives (“that book”) and indexicals (“I”, “here”). Additional examples of referring expressions with Fregean senses include expressions Evans called “descriptive names”. According to Evans, descriptive names are names that, unlike proper names, can be understood only if one knows some associated description. Evans thought that descriptive names were rare and that examples included names that were stipulated, as in his example “Let us call whoever invented the zip ‘Julius’” (Varieties p. 31). Evans thought the key feature that distinguished demonstratives and indexicals on the one hand from descriptive names on the other was that demonstratives and indexicals are, in Evans phrase, Russelian. A Russelian expression is an expression that, if it is empty (if it fails to refer) then it is meaningless. However, in holding that demonstratives and indexicals have Fregean senses, Evans incurs the obligation of saying what those senses are.  Evans holds, following Perry, that no description can capture the content of a demonstrative or an indexical. However, whereas Perry saw this as an argument against the positing of Fregean senses for demonstratives and indexicals, Evans supplies an account of non-descriptive senses. Evans’s quest for non-descriptive senses for demonstratives and indexicals led him to one of his most central and influential views, namely, that there exists such a thing as non-conceptual content. Non-conceptual contents are mental representational contents that can be grasped by a subject even though that subject lacks the concepts we would employ in attributing that content. For example, the perceptual state of an infant may represent the presence of an object colored with a certain shade of red, say vermillion, even though the infant is insufficiently sophisticated to have a concept of vermillion.


Only 34 at the time of his death, Evans short life gave rise to remarkable philosophical contributions.







The Varieties of Reference (Oxford, 1982).


The Collected Papers of Gareth Evans. (Oxford, 1985).



Other Relevant Work


Ed., with John McDowell Truth and Meaning: Essays in Semantics (Oxford, 1976).



Chalmers and the New York Consciousness Collective on TV

David Chalmers ( and the New York Consciousness Collective ( are featured in this episode of Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman (starts around 7:35):

Monday, July 4, 2011

Saturday, July 2, 2011