I thought it might be kind of nice to have a thread where we can just add all the great stuff that we find which may not merit its own thread.
This thread can be used to add:
Even if you don't have anything to add right now, please select 'follow' so that you can be notified of new additions.
The Homunculus Fallacy
The homunculus argument is a fallacy arising most commonly in the theory of vision. One may explain (human) vision by noting that light from the outside world forms an image on the retinas in the eyes and something (or someone) in the brain looks at these images as if they are images on a movie screen (this theory of vision is sometimes termed the theory of the Cartesian Theater: it is most associated, nowadays, with the psychologist David Marr). The question arises as to the nature of this internal viewer. The assumption here is that there is a 'little man' or 'homunculus' inside the brain 'looking at' the movie.
The reason why this is a fallacy may be understood by asking how the homunculus 'sees' the internal movie. The obvious answer is that there is another homunculus inside the first homunculus's 'head' or 'brain' looking at this 'movie'. But how does this homunculus see the 'outside world'? In order to answer this, we are forced to posit another homunculus inside this other homunculus's head and so forth. In other words, we are in a situation of infinite regress. The problem with the homunculus argument is that it tries to account for a phenomenon in terms of the very phenomenon that it is supposed to explain.
Psychologists Brooke Cannon and Lorraine Kramer reviewed the patient records of a state psychiatric hospital in the US looking at each decade of the 20th Century in turn.
They recorded the content of the delusions for every patient with psychosis and while they didn’t find that the level of delusions changed, they did find that they tended to relate to the social concerns of the time.
…more patients after 1950 believe they are being spied upon is consistent with the development of related technology and the advent of the Cold War.
Delusional content tended to reflect the culture at the time, with focus on syphilis in the early 1900s, on Germans during World War II, on Communists during the Cold War, and on technology in recent years.
An earlier study that looked at hospital records from Slovenia found a similar pattern – with madness also reflecting developing social themes.
Symbolic interactionism is a major sociological perspective that places emphasis on micro-scale social interaction, which is particularly important in subfields such as urban sociology and social psychology. Symbolic interactionism is derived from American pragmatism, especially the work of George Herbert Mead and Charles Cooley. Herbert Blumer, a student and interpreter of Mead, coined the term and put forward an influential summary of the perspective: people act toward things based on the meaning those things have for them; and these meanings are derived from social interaction and modified through interpretation. Blumer was also influenced by John Dewey, who insisted that human beings are best understood in relation to their environment.
Basic premises and approach
Herbert Blumer (1969), who coined the term "symbolic interactionism," set out three basic premises of the perspective:
Blumer, following Mead, claimed that people interact with each other by interpret[ing] or 'defin[ing]' each other's actions instead of merely reacting to each other's actions. Their 'response' is not made directly to the actions of one another but instead is based on the meaning which they attach to such actions. Thus, human interaction is mediated by the use of symbols and signification, by interpretation, or by ascertaining the meaning of one another's actions (Blumer 1962). Blumer contrasted this process, which he called "symbolic interaction," with behaviorist explanations of human behavior, which don't allow for interpretation between stimulus and response.
Symbolic interactionist researchers investigate how people create meaning during social interaction, how they present and construct the self (or "identity"), and how they define situations of co-presence with others. One of the perspective's central ideas is that people act as they do because of how they define situations.
Erving Goffman, although he claimed not to have been a symbolic interactionist, is recognized as one of the major contributors to the perspective. Interactionists see the social world as a continuously dynamic and dialectical web.
Dramaturgy is a sociological perspective stemming from symbolic interactionism. The term was first adapted into sociology from the theatre by Erving Goffman, who developed most of the related terminology and ideas in his 1959 book, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Kenneth Burke, whom Goffman would later acknowledge as an influence, had earlier presented his notions of dramatism in 1945 which, in turn, derives from Shakespeare.
In dramaturgical sociology it is argued that human actions are dependent upon time, place, and audience. In other words, to Goffman, the self is a sense of who one is, a dramatic effect emerging from the immediate scene being presented. Goffman forms a theatrical metaphor in defining the method in which one human being presents itself to another based on cultural values, norms, and expectations. Performances can have disruptions (actors are aware of such) but most are successful. The goal of this presentation of self is acceptance from the audience through manipulation. If the actor succeeds, the audience will view the actor as he or she wants to be viewed. This makes it an intimate form of communication, highlighting it as a micro-level sociological theory.
Originating in sociology and criminology, labeling theory (also known as social reaction theory) was developed by sociologist Howard S. Becker. Labeling theory (synonymous to "identifying against") holds that deviance is not inherent to an act, but instead focuses on the linguistic tendency of majorities to negatively label minorities or those seen as deviant from norms. The theory is concerned with how the self-identity and behavior of individuals may be determined or influenced by the terms used to describe or classify them, and is associated with the concept of a self-fulfilling prophecy and stereotyping. The theory was prominent in the 1960s and 1970s, and some modified versions of the theory have developed. Unwanted descriptors or categorizations (including terms related to deviance, disability or a diagnosis of mental illness) may be rejected on the basis that they are merely "labels", often with attempts to adopt a more constructive language in its place. Labeling theory is also closely related to interactionism and social construction.
The Mysterious Flame: Conscious Minds in a Material World
You have a piece of meat in your head called a brain. You also have perceptions, feelings, thoughts, and ideas, which scientists assert are related in some fashion to that piece of meat. How can this be? Philosopher Colin McGinn looks at this question in depth in The Mysterious Flame: Conscious Minds in a Material World, a slim, accessible book that presents a novel answer: we'll never know. We can look at the brain from outside, and look at our consciousness from within, but never the twain shall meet.
Not at all defeatist in tone, The Mysterious Flame rejects strict materialism and dualism, which seek to solve the mind-body problem in fairly unsatisfactory ways, and claims instead that our intelligence is not an appropriate tool to use for understanding the interface between subjective experience and material reality. (And, unfortunately, we don't have anything better.) Instead of bemoaning our fate, McGinn turns the traditional questions around and asks "What can we know about ourselves?" This is just as interesting as any question being asked by philosophers of the mind, and in fact seems to merit a higher priority. Whether McGinn's arguments will succeed in the marketplace of ideas is an open question, but they certainly deserve the attention of anyone interested in the nature of human thought. --Rob Lightner
+ Author Affiliations
Would you make the same decisions in a foreign language as you would in your native tongue? It may be intuitive that people would make the same choices regardless of the language they are using, or that the difficulty of using a foreign language would make decisions less systematic. We discovered, however, that the opposite is true: Using a foreign language reduces decision-making biases. Four experiments show that the framing effect disappears when choices are presented in a foreign tongue. Whereas people were risk averse for gains and risk seeking for losses when choices were presented in their native tongue, they were not influenced by this framing manipulation in a foreign language. Two additional experiments show that using a foreign language reduces loss aversion, increasing the acceptance of both hypothetical and real bets with positive expected value. We propose that these effects arise because a foreign language provides greater cognitive and emotional distance than a native tongue does.