Monday

030112 Linguistic Relativity (Werning)
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Since Edward Sapir and Benjamin Whorf formulated their famous hypothesis that the grammar of a person’s native language determines the structure of her thought, linguistic relativity has been a major topic in the philosophy of mind and language, linguistics and cognitive science. Numerous studies have investigated in how far the vocabulary and syntax of a language influence people’s ontology, the way they categorize objects and properties and how they think about time, space and causality. Philosophers have contributed to that debate by arguing for and against the indeterminacy of translation, ontological relativity, or the priority of language over thought. In the seminar we will review those arguments and evaluate them in the light of recent empirical studies. Aside from active participation, participants will be expected to give a presentation in English. Assistance regarding the English language will be provided. | | | Literature: Berlin, B., & Kay, P. (1969). Basic color terms: Their universality and evolution. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. Carey, S. (2001). Whorf vs. continuity theorists: Bringing data to bear on the debate. In M. Bowerman & S. Levinson (Eds.), Language acquisition and conceptual development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Davidson, D. (2001). Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Kay, P., & Regier, T. (2003). Resolving the question of color naming universals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), 100, 9085-9. Li, P., & Gleitman, L. (2002). Turning the tables: language and spatial reasoning. Cognition, 83(3), 265–94. Majid, A., Bowerman, M., Kita, S., Haun, D. B. M., & Levinson, S. C. (2004). Can language restructure cognition? The case for space. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 8, 108–14. Quine, W. V. (1960). Word and Object. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press Quine, W. V. (1969). Ontological Relativity and Other Essays. New York: Columbia University Press. Steels, L., & Belpaeme, T. (2005). Coordinating perceptually grounded categories through language. A case study for colour. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28: 469–89. Werning, M. (2004). Compositionality, context, categories and the indeterminacy of translation. Erkenntnis, 60, 145–78. Whorf, B. L. (1956). Science and Linguistics. In: Language, thought and reality: selected writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

030103 Merleau-Ponty and Cognitive Science (Venter)
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This seminar will offer an exploration of Merleau-Ponty's contributions to the field of cognitive science. Merleau-Ponty's work is known for its emphasis on embodiment, perception, and the lived experience, and has had a profound impact on our understanding of the mind-body relationship. Throughout the seminar, we will delve into key concepts and examine his critique of traditional cognitive science that prioritizes disembodied and cognitivist models of cognition. We will thereby seek to understand the implications for rethinking cognitive science in terms of an embodied and enactive framework. We will analyze and critically examine the intersections between Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology and contemporary cognitive science research. Literature will be provided on Moodle.

030057 Embodied Mind and Subjectivity (Rhigetti)
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Introducing the topic of the embodied mind in philosophy involves exploring the idea that cognition is not solely a function of the brain but is intricately connected to the body and its interactions with the environment. This perspective challenges traditional Cartesian dualism, which posits a strict separation between mind and body. Proponents of the embodied mind thesis argue for a more integrated understanding of cognition that considers the body's active role in shaping thought and perception. In this course, we will explore phenomenological, contemporary philosophical, and cognitive investigations by tracing the development of notions related to embodiment and the embodied mind, starting with Husserl (1999), Merleau-Ponty (1962), and Varela (1999). One of the cornerstones of the philosophy of the embodied mind, "The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience," authored by Francisco Varela, Eleonor Rosh, and Evan Thomson (2016), will be examined. This work draws on insights from phenomenology, biology, and cognitive science. Finally, we will delve into the contributions of contemporary thinkers such as Andy Clark (1997) and Shaun Gallagher (2005), who have enriched the discourse on embodied mind philosophy, contributing to a more holistic understanding of cognition that considers the intricate connections between the body, the mind, and the environment. The course aims to provide an overview of the development of the debate, inspecting both cognitive and subjective aspects. Students will have the opportunity to link up with our DFG research group “Constructing Scenarios of the Past”, the Bochum-Grenoble Memory Colloquium and our DFG Research Training Group “Situated Cognition”. Participants will be expected to actively participate in the discussion in English. Assistance regarding the English language will be provided upon request.

030084 Attitudes towards Objects (Liefke)
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It is often assumed that all mental states (e.g. believing, wishing, fearing) are relations to propositions. These propositions carry information content (e.g. '311 is a prime number') that can be true or false, that can be linguistically expressed by a sentence, and that can be shared between cognitive agents. Much recent work in the philosophy of language and mind has argued against this 'propositional attitude' view. This work has pointed out that the objects of many mental states (e.g. fearing Moriarty, imagining a unicorn, and needing a laptop) intuitively resist a propositional treatment. Thus, I can fear Moriarty without fearing that Moriarty has (or does) P (where P is some property or activity). This seminar gives an introduction to the 'hot' topic of non-propositional attitudes. It identifies the theoretical challenges that are posed by these attitudes and reviews some attempts at solving these challenges. Over the course of the semester, students will learn about propositional and objectual attitudes, intentionality, referential opacity, and the metaphysics of attitudinal objects like beliefs and needs. | | | Selected readings: Forbes, Graeme (2000). Objectual attitudes. Linguistics and Philosophy 23(2): 141-183. Grzankowski, Alex (2013). Non-propositional attitudes. Philosophy Compass 8(12): 1123-1136. Moltmann, Friederike (2003). Propositional attitudes without propositions. Synthese 135: 77-118. Montague, Michelle (2007). Against propositionalism. Noûs 41(3): 503-518. Quine, Willard Van Orman (1956). Quantifiers and propositional attitudes. Journal of Philosophy 53(5): 177-187.

030115 Intuitionistic Logic (Niki)
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When somebody makes a claim, it is often accompanied by evidence for the claim. The philosophy of intuitionism (or constructivism) takes the notion of evidence to be central to logic: a valid inference must provide a recipe for constructing its evidence. This requirement leads to the rejection of the law of excluded middle, e.g. `either there is extraterrestrial life or there is not.’, because it may not come with evidence for one of the possibilities. Constructive reasoning therefore motivates a non-classical notion of logic, different from the one of classical logic as given by truth tables. This course offers an introduction to intuitionistic logic, which formalizes constructive reasoning and has a wide range of applications in philosophy, mathematics and computer science. The contents to be covered include philosophical backgrounds for intuitionism, both proof systems and semantics for intuitionistic logic, and some fundamental theoretical results. There will be a focus on comparisons with classical logic, which will illustrate the difference between the two world views. | | | Literature: Hiroakira Ono (2019), Proof Theory and Algebra in Logic. Springer. Dirk van Dalen (2013), Logic and Structure. 5th edition. Springer.

030078 Hans Jonas’ (1966) Phenomenon of Life: a contemporary reappraisal (Radomski)
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The central theme of this seminar revolves around the biophilosophy of Hans Jonas as outlined in his 1966 seminal work, "The Phenomenon of Life." Jonas proposed interpreting biological facts, such as life and mind existing in a “lifeless” universe, through the prism of existentialist philosophy. Jonas's philosophy criticized a nihilistic view of life as being devoid of intrinsic value, indifferent to its own existence, and not worth caring for. He saw the root of nihilism in a divide proclaimed by contemporary philosophy and science between a concernful human, isolated and alone, and an indifferent universe. Jonas attempted to show that, instead of a divide, there is an uninterrupted continuity between matter, life, and mind, and that all the aspects that existentialists assume to be unique to humans are already rooted in organic existence. Jonas’ views on life-mind continuity have had a major impact on generations of philosophers, finding their most clear expression in the enactive approach in the philosophy of mind. In the last few years, Jonas’ biophilosophy has drawn renewed interest, and various elements of his work are being reappraised. In this seminar, we will familiarize ourselves with Jonas’ analysis of metabolism, as well as contemporary interpretations, to better understand the role of the life-mind continuity thesis and its various versions in the philosophy of mind.

030116 How Do we Understand Ourselves? The Self in Memory and Social Cognition (Crone/Newen)
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When we ask ourselves who we are and what characterizes us as a particular person, our own life story plays an important role: we attribute personality traits to ourselves by recalling past experiences or formative life episodes, which we often share or exchange with others; the formation of a self-understanding seems to be inherently social. In the seminar, we will address the following questions: How is the capacity to understand oneself precisely structured? What role do personal memories play? What does it mean to understand others? Is self-understanding required to understand others - and vice versa? The seminar will be completely held in English. It has three parts: In the first part, we read and discuss theories of self and self-consciousness including Daniel Dennett’s theory of the narrative self, Thomas Metzinger’s no-self theory and the pattern theory of self (Shaun Gallagher; Albert Newen). In the second part the focus will shift to the role of narrative self in memory. Central questions are: how is the self shaped by our memories of past events, on the one hand, and how is self influencing how I recall a past episode, on the other hand? We need to discuss recent theories of self-memory-systems, also inspired by psychological theories. In the third part we will discuss the relation between self-understanding and understanding others. Thus, we will discuss theories of how we understand other human beings (Simulation Theory, Theory Theory, Interaction Theory; Person Model Theory). This is the background to read recent articles about the question to which degree our strategies of understanding others is not only used in the case of understanding human interaction partners but also to understand the behavior of AI systems. Students from Bochum meet in the Bochum lecture room. Student in Dortmund can meet there (or receive special instructions by Katja Crone). We are all connected via Zoom for joint discussions. The literature will be announced in the first session. As a preparation the students can read Dennett’s theory of the narrative self. A link to the text will be provided here: https://www.pe.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/philosophie/ii/newen/lehre.html.de