Keith Douglas' Web Page

About me Find out who I am and what I do.
My resumé A copy of my resumé and other documentation about my education and work experience for employers and the curious.
Reviews, theses, articles, presentations A collection of papers from my work, categorized and annotated.
Current research projects What I am currently working on, including some non-research material.
Interesting people People professionally "connected" to me in some way.
Interesting organizations Organizations I am "connected" to. (Some rather loosely.)
Intellectual/professional influences Influences on my work, including an organization chart. Here you can also buy many good books on philosophy and other subjects via I have included brief reviews of hundreds of books.
Professional resources Research sources, associates programs, etc.
What is the philosophy of computing? A brief introduction to my primary professional interest.
My intellectual heroes A partial list of important people. Limited to the dead.
My educational philosophy As a sometime teacher I've developed one. Includes book resources.

Book Influences - Philosophy of Mind

Purchase / Enjoy Cover
Brain-Wise: Studies in Neurophilosophy Churchland Strictly speaking this book covers more topics than just philosophy of mind. However, one can look at it as a book showing how one's philosophy of mind affects metaphysics, epistemology, etc.
Brainchildren: Essays on Designing Minds Dennett A collection of Dennett's papers.
Conscious Mind Chalmers This book was very disappointing. It came highly recommended to me, but it just amounts to Leibniz in new (possible world semantics) clothes. On the other hand, there are interesting remarks about philosophy of computing that are worth considering. Maybe Chalmers is in the wrong subfield?
Consciousness Explained Dennett My favourite book on the philosophy of mind, which is not to say it is all correct. (How could it be? Nothing created this complex ever is.) Favourite line: (paraphrased) Why is the sky blue? Because ripe berries are red and leaves are green, not the other way around. Dennett's discussion of our "feature detectors" is masterful, as is the demolishing of those inane undead creatures (because they keep coming back!), the philosophical zombies.
Conversations on Mind, Matter and Mathematics Changeux and Connes A neuroscientist and a mathematician discuss various philosophical topics. A few errors slip in (about Turing) but otherwise the conversation is the sort of thing I enjoy myself - an engaging talk between friends about something neat-o.
Emperor's New Mind Penrose Physics, logic, computability, philosophy of mind? What's not to like? Well, Penrose's mangling of Gödel's theorem and crazy speculation about microtubules - as well as not citing much of anything in AI - his target!
Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid Hofstadter I could write for hours about this one. Instead, I will simply say: Read it. (The absence of actually proving the first incompleteness theorem is the only thing wrong with it, but the other aspects are so delightfully powerful I reread it fairly often and they certainly make up for the lack, however important at first sight it might seem.) Last time I reread it I found that Hofstadter thanks my teacher from CMU: Wilfried Sieg, who I suppose he met when they were both at Stanford.
Invitation to Cognitive Science, Volume 3 Osherson This volume of the series deals with "thinking" (cognition in the narrow sense) and contains many interesting papers. The editorial quality was such that I want to obtain the other volumes in the ICS series.
Large, The Small and the Human Mind Penrose (with a few others) A third in the sequence about philosophy of mind, computability and microtubules. What's not like? Well, Penrose's mangling of Gödel's theorem and crazy speculation about microtubules - as well as not citing much of anything in AI - his target!
Mental Reality (2e) Strawson This book has two major theses; a positive one, which fails to convince the reader that an objective idealism of a panpsychist type is correct (or at least plausible) and the other, a critique of "neobehaviourism" is closer to the mark. Unfortunately, his big target, Dennett, would be unfazed by it (and I think rightly so). This is because Dennett's long argument also includes the work in the likes of Darwin's Dangerous Idea. Even if you (as Galen Strawson seems to want us to consider) think that wee electrons have some sort of mental attributes, some "experience", we are owed an account of the aggregation of these. This has always been the problem with Leibniz on his own terms: how do the monads that make up my body "stick together" - well, we know about the preestablished harmony, but that's always seemingly a cheat. And Strawson, who claims at first to be an atheist (but ends with a few "god save us from", so one wonders ...) has thus no such recourse. (Not to mention that even to a theist the Leibnizian solution has many theological problems in its own right.) One also has to account for evolution, too - the view has to explain the aforementioned topic in evolutionary terms. Finally we also have another sort of "integration" problem. This is at the level of disciplines. Strawson claims that we have no idea how matter can produce experience. Yet we do have the ability to reliably manipulate the experience of others and map its space, etc. He's left with the mystery of explaining why we can do this so well - again, Leibniz has the harmony, but why, if our neurons and such are not our minding things, do they seem to be precisely manipulatable in a way that would suggest they are? (This is tu quoque, but given the rest of the problems with the account, I'd think that this should tip the balance of arguments - and yet this sort of fact is dismissed.)
Metamagical Themas: questing for the essence of mind and pattern Hofstadter A collection of papers by Hofstadter on a wide variety of topics. Especially notable is the paper on Nomic - one example of a self-modifying game, and "Who Pushes Who Around the Careenium", which is a dialogue featuring his characters from Gödel, Escher, Bach.
Mind and World McDowell This slim collection of lecture transcripts and further remarks takes up a theme supposedly central to modern philosophy: where reasons fit in a "world of causes". Kant is of course the primary inspiration and source for this problem but McDowell also draws upon Wittgenstein, Gadamer, Hegel, (P.) Strawson, Davidson and others. His solution involves socialization, though not in those terms. I have one reservation, however. This sort of piece includes substantive hypotheses about the nature of our mental functioning which may in fact be false. In particular, it seems to assume something like the old perceptual/cognitive split though not in such naive terms. A sophisticated pseudoQuinian (for example, perhaps, the Churchlands) might reject McDowell's solution on these grounds.
Mind Design II Haugland (ed.) Collection of papers on AI and cognitive science.
Mind's I Hofstadter and Dennett (eds.) Collection of papers on AI, cognitive science and related concerns. Reprints Smullyan's wonderful dialogue, "Is God a Taoist?"
Nature of Mind Rosenthal Collection of papers on philosophy of mind up to c.1990. (Hi, Robin!)
Neurophilosophy at Work Churchland Paul Churchland's latest collection of papers, which not only address topics in traditional philosophy of mind areas (such as consciousness, qualia, the interface with epistemology) but also with ethics and the study of concepts. I wonder how easy it would be to combine his and R. Millikan's nonclassical semantics. Printed on glossy paper to allow reproduction of wonderful colours.
Philosophy, Neuroscience and Consciousness Welshon A critical extended discussion of the literature (in a way it is structured - not in a bad way - as a literature review) on this difficult but popular topic, at least amongst philosophers. Welshon is not terribly sympathetic to qualia-mystery-mongers, but does show we have much work ahead in this area. My only large complaint is stylistic: it seems that the amount of forward references needed could have been minimized. Also, for philosophers, the amount of philosophical work actually discussed in detail might raise some concerns, but it is still useful to have references to the neuroscience literature in the same place. It is nice to see that that this sort of volume can be released without the hulabaloo that used to surround that of the Churchlands.
Plato's Camera: How the Physical Brain Captures a Landscape of Abstract Univerals Churchland (Paul) Churchland attempts a book length treatment of "neurosemantics". As a manifesto in a research program, it succeeds admirably. However, I am not sure how his proposed new epistemology and semantics works to explain creativity (the old stumbling block for everyone, but especially for associationists). He makes it sound as if all our concepts come from reverberating around of sense input with some (e.g. in the case of colours) innate specification. It is quite true, as he says, the extreme innateness of Fodor cannot do the work here either. But I do not see, on this otherwise interesting picture, how we can get concepts such as concept itself which are transempirical. I am also not quite convinced that the subtitle of the book is accomplished either. It is true that Churchland admirably and in detail explains how his proposal allows for classification. But it is unclear how the universals of traditional metaphysics (e.g. Armstrong, who is certainly no Platonist) thereby get recognized. I think the answer has to be that we are wrong about what the universals consist in, at least to some extent, and that instead the subspaces of our sensory and motor "brainspaces" represent them, even though these may not correspond to anything like we've heretofore thought. This is a brief book, one which reads sometimes like a "end of career" summing up, isn't all that, at least. Sometimes it does sound as enthusiastic and willing to tackle the next challenge as the work of this esteemed philosopher from decades ago.
Psychosemantics: The Problem of Meaning in the Philosophy of Mind Fodor This is a difficult but influential book on the relations between philosophy of mind and language. In particular, in it Fodor defends folk psychology - or at least one part of it, namely a realism about (the referent of) "belief/desire" psychological explanations, etc. He also has an appendix on why there is a language of thought (and fails to realize that language could be compositional "below the language level itself").
Shadows of the Mind Penrose A second in the sequence about philosophy of mind, computability and microtubules. What's not like? Well, Penrose's mangling of Gödel's theorem and crazy speculation about microtubules - as well as not citing much of anything in AI - his target!
The Intentional Stance Dennett I recently purchased this, more than a decade after first reading it as an undergraduate. It struck me that it might be useful to "back port" some of Dennett's ideas to understanding the metaphyics of computers and computation. As for the philosophy of mind present in the book, it is now over 20 years old. It is sobering to reflect on the lack of change in the positions of some of the players, though I notice slight shifting towards a common ground on the part of Dennett and the Churchlands. (Fodor and Searle, on the other hand, are still very far away, Fodor more so than he was, for better or for worse.) I also (as I do in cases like this) played Bunge-inspired advocate, and perhaps his difference lies in the nature of representation, not in the computationalism stuff, really. Time to reread other things then ... Finally: a general warning: this book is for the most part a reprint of papers found elsewhere and it would be difficult for newbies to the field to profitably read this book.
True to Our Feelings: What Our Emotions Are Really Telling Us Solomon I classify this volume as being one on the philosophy of mind as it defends a mildly cognitive account of emotions. Solomon stresses the "outward directedness" (intentionality) of emotions. Otherwise his views in broad outline are phenomenological and existentialist. Hence my usual criticisms apply: phenomenology should not be a replacement for analysis and synthesis of mechanism. Solomon realizes this point but does not perform much of the mechanismic exploration here. Existentialism, at least in its Sartrean version, like here, is very scientifically out of date, though Solomon also brings in some more recent points. Overall not a bad book, simply a very "skimming the surface" one.
Supervenience and Mind Kim Together with the work of Davidson, the remarks on events here form the starting point for my MA thesis.
Turing Hodges A brief biography of Turing and critical discussion of his work for the Great Philosophers series. (Hodges will also explain to you why Turing counts as a philosopher.)


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