Volume 16, Issue 2, 2018

Processual Monism: A Fresh Look at the Mind-Body Problem
Francesco Fronterotta, Department of Philosophy, University of Rome "Sapienza", Italy, Roberto Di Letizia, Liceo Classico Scientifico XXV Aprile, Pisa, Italy and Sergio Salvatore, University of Salento, Lecce, Italy

Our aim is to show how materialistic monism, which is the dominant metaphysics of natural sciences, reduces the mental ambit to the brain's physical/biological substrate. We refer to two variants of this monism by pointing out the main reason for their failure, i.e. the hard problem of consciousness. For this reason, we think that a more effective alternative to materialistic monism is neutral monism, of which processual monism is one version that has its own strong specificity. Very briefly, our thesis is that body and mind have to be considered as cognitive domains working as systems of pertinentization, through which a certain form/component of the unique world is instantiated. As we explain below, pertinentization is the process by which a certain subset of components/qualities of reality is foregrounded, and in so doing a certain phenomenal domain - i.e. a certain reality - emerges.

Agency and the Will
Jason Brown, New York University Medical Center, New York, USA

Does physical will or energic feeling as expressed in animal mind and instinctual drive become a power of the self to choose, to decide and to initiate action? It is argued that will has no causal role; rather, it distributes, as conceptual-feeling, into all objects and mental contents. The paper also explores the relation of decision to action and the process through which choices are implemented. While the roots of feeling in instinctual drive appear as a bias of voluntary action by unconscious disposition, the presence of conscious choice implies the possibility of unfettered choosing, and the mitigation of will to feeling allows the allocation of irresistible impulse to measured implementation. Evolutionary and maturational trends individuate will as impulse to a feeling of activity, with action the measure of will in relation to a decisional self.
Agency is consciousness of purposefulness but is not a mark of freedom. Free acts occur within the limits of the possible occasioned by the parcellation of core categories to concepts. The muting of impulse to desire, the emergence of a self in a subjective field, and the appearance - illusory or not - of a duration that unites past and present in conscious temporal order, are the bases of the belief in free choice. The evolution of feeling from energy, the primitiveness and animal ancestry of drive, the transitive nature of action as process, the ineffability of will and the presumed non-conceptuality of action, account for the sense that will is the closest we come to the in-itself of experience. That is, a felt but objectless experience of will is a contact with energic process in nature and the ground of becoming.

Revisiting Mirror-Neuron Based Embodied Simulation
Heath Williams, Department of Philosophy, University of Western Australia at Perth

This article defends mirror-neuron based embodied simulation (MNBES) from four criticisms. First, the charge that MNBES cannot account for action understanding because it cannot account for the propositional attitude of intention fails, because embodied simulation proffers a "bottom-up" account of action understanding. Second, like much neurological science, MNBES is underwritten by an assumed correlation between cognitive functional processes (i.e. simulation) and neurological mechanisms (i.e. mirror neurons), and to demand mirror-neuron theorists close the explanatory gap asks too much. Third, MNBES has been criticized because it fails to provide an account of the necessary and sufficient conditions of social cognition, but I show that neurological accounts, like most empirical science, do not aim to meet this philosophical standard. In the final section I argue that the shared representation of goals supervenes on mirror-neuron activity.

Last revision: 18 Dec 2018