Another Installment by Springer

Fresh translations of key texts, exhaustive coverage from Plato to Kant, and detailed commentary by expert scholars of philosophy add up to make this sourcebook the first and most comprehensive account of the history of the philosophy of mind. Published at a time when the philosophy of mind and philosophical psychology are high-profile domains in current research, the volume will inform our understanding of philosophical questions by shedding light on the origins of core conceptual assumptions often arrived at before the instauration of psychology as a recognized subject in its own right.

The chapters closely follow historical developments in our understanding of the mind, with sections dedicated to ancient, medieval Latin and Arabic, and early modern periods of development. The volume’s structural clarity enables readers to trace the entire progression of philosophical understanding on specific topics related to the mind, such as the nature of perception. Doing so reveals the fascinating contrasts between current and historical approaches. In addition to its all-inclusive source material, the volume provides subtle expert commentary that includes critical introductions to each thematic section as well as detailed engagement with the central texts. A voluminous bibliography includes hundreds of primary and secondary sources. The sheer scale of this new publication sheds light on the progression, and discontinuities, in our study of the philosophy of mind, and represents a major new sourcebook in a field of extreme importance to our understanding of humanity as a whole.

New Book by Richard Swinburne

Mind, Brain, and Free Will presents a powerful new case for substance dualism (the idea that humans consist of two parts–body and soul) and for libertarian free will (that humans have some freedom to choose between alternatives, independently of the causes which influence them). Richard Swinburne argues that answers to questions about mind, body, and free will depend crucially on the answers to more general philosophical questions. He begins by analyzing the criteria for one event being the same as another, one substance being the same as another, and a state of affairs being metaphysically possible; and then goes on to analyze the criteria for a belief about these issues being justified. Pure mental events (including conscious events) are distinct from physical events and interact with them. Swinburne claims that no result from neuroscience or any other science could show that interaction does not take place; and illustrates this claim by showing that recent scientific work (such as Libet’s experiments) has no tendency whatever to show that our intentions do not cause brain events. He goes on to argue for agent causation, and claims that–to speak precisely–it is we, and not our intentions, that cause our brain events. It is metaphysically possible that each of us could acquire a new brain or continue to exist without a brain; and so we are essentially souls. Brain events and conscious events are so different from each other that it would not be possible to establish a scientific theory which would predict what each of us would do in situations of moral conflict. Hence given a crucial epistemological principle (the Principle of Credulity) we should believe that things are as they seem to be: that we make choices independently of the causes which influence us. According to Swinburne’s lucid and ambitious account, it follows that we are morally responsible for our actions.

Loneliness 2nd Edition is now available

Dr. Mijuskovic’s interdisciplinary work Loneliness is now available in a second edition. You can find it on  Alibris, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Parker E. Lichtenstein provides a helpful synopsis in The Psychological Record:

  “The author has employed an interdisciplinary approach to the problem of loneliness. While psychologists have touched upon the problem, they have not done justice to it. Mijuskovic sees loneliness not simply as a frequent human condition but rather an aspect of man’s ontological being. In his words, man is ‘intrinsically alone and irredeemably lost’ and is ‘continually struggling to escape the solipsistic prison of his frightening solitude.’ This basic thesis is supported through philosophical analysis and wide-ranging examination of relevant literature…. [T]he author has presented a challenging picture of much human behavior as a flight from loneliness. On the whole this is an intriguing book which should be of particular interest to psychologists of a humanistic persuasion.”

Loneliness 2nd edition

Ben Mijuskovic has been tirelessly working on a second edition of his ground breaking study on loneliness. He kindly provided some reviews, which will be posted here in the coming weeks. The fundamental conclusions of the simplicity argument lead to solipsism, which translates psychologically into loneliness. Isolate minds have trouble engaging the outside world; thus, the natural emotive response to this philosophical reality is the feeling of being alone – unable to connect with other minds.

Acclaim for Ben Mijuskovic’s Loneliness in Philosophy, Psychology, and Literature

[1] “Indeed, a most impressive survey has been undertaken by Professor Ben Mijuskovic in his fine book, Loneliness in Philosophy, Psychology, and Literature. He shows most effectively how prominent the themes of literature and inwardness have been in creative literature from quite early times, in the myth of Prometheus, the Odyssey, in parts of Plato and Aristophanes, and in the Upanishads, down to the most recent writers of fiction and philosophy. ‘Robinson Crusoe’ recovers the importance it had for earlier speculative thought (the ‘History of Robinson and Friday’ as we have it in Hegel’s ‘Outlines of the Phenomenology of Mind’) and is shown to be part of a concern which continues through Proust to the British novelist Arthur Machen and his frightening portrayal, in his own words, of ‘a Robinson Crusoe of the soul’ and to Thomas Wolfe’s ‘We walk the streets of life alone’ matched by Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’ and Golding’s ‘Pincher Martin.’ Mijuskovic concludes that, on the philosophical foundation of the ability of thought to “curl back on itself, the disciplines of literature, philosophy, and psychology have erected a significant and true insight into man’s fundamental nature, namely that that each of us, separately exists in isolation, in a state of desolate loneliness, enclosed within the confines of a nomadic prison which we continually strive to escape.”

H. D. Lewis, editor of Religious Studies.

(It is an honor to post a piece by Dr. Ben Mijuskovic in response to the first chapter of Lennon and Stainton’s work.  Any comments or remarks will be directed to his attention for response.)

The Achilles of Rationalist Psychology (hereafter ARP) distinguishes two forms of the Achilles argument, a Narrow version, which addresses the issue of the unity of consciousness; and a Broad form, which concentrates on the immortality of the soul.

The first article in the study, authored by Professor Karen Margrethe Nielsen, titled “Did Plato Articulate the Achilles Argument?” asks “whether the Achilles can be found in Plato’s Phaedo, or anywhere else in the Platonic corpus” [ARP, 22]. As I understand Professor Nielsen’s position, she believes that Plotinus is the original source and in confirmation she refers to Moses Mendelssohn’s dialogue of the same name in support pointing out that if indeed Plato was the first source, then surely Mendelssohn would have cited Plato instead of drawing heavily on Plotinus and his arguments.

In my own study, The Achilles of Rationalist Arguments (ARA), I indicate that its origin could be traced back to the Phaedo. In support of this assertion, I discuss at some length the views of A. E. Taylor, who “warns against what he considers to be the anachronistic consequences in inferring that Plato’s argument proves the soul to be a ‘simple substance.’” Nevertheless, Taylor goes on to state that Plato’s reasoning in the Phaedo:

lies at the bottom of all the familiar arguments of later metaphysicians who deduce the immortality of the soul from its alleged character as a ‘simple’ substance,’ the ‘paralogism’ attacked by Kant in the Critique of Pure Reason . . . Socrates point is not that the soul is a ‘simple substance,’—he had not so much the language in which to say such a thing—but that it is, as the Orphic religion had taught, something divine. Its ‘deiformity,’ not its indivisibility is what he is anxious to establish; the indivisibility is a mere consequence. [ARA, p. 6]

Taylor himself remarks that Kant’s knowledge of the proof derives from Christian Wolff and Moses Mendelssohn [ARA, p. 6]. Perhaps. The first edition second paralogism treats the unity of consciousness but the second edition paralogism primarily deals with immortality.

By contrast, I also state that F. M. Cornford contends that Plato proves the soul to be simple because: “As immortal and imperishable, the soul is most like the divine, immortal, intelligible, simple, and indissoluble (because incomposite); whereas the body is most like the mortal, multiform, unintelligible, dissoluble (because composite) and perpetually changing” [ARA, pp. 6-7]. So I do consider the controversy over the attribution to Plato of the Broad Achilles. To suggest otherwise is somewhat misleading. Thus, I would say that it is a bit strong to say that, “Ben Mijuskovic nevertheless identifies Plato’s Phaedo as its first locus” [ARP, pp. 23 and 24]. In fact, my opening statement reads: “The argument seems to be first suggested as a proof for immortality in Plato’s Phaedo” [ARA p. 6].

At bottom, her conclusion is that “there is little evidence to suggest that Plato expressed either the Narrow or Broad Achilles.” [pp.25-26]

Professor Nielsen’s champion for a first source is Plotinus, via Mendelssohn no less, intimating that since Mendelssohn cites Plotinus rather than Plato it must be the former who is the authentic originator. [ARP, p.23] But she neglects to mention that I discuss Plotinus at greater length than I do Plato and that I explicitly attribute to the great Neoplatonist not only credit for both the Narrow and the Broad Achilles’ (unity and immortality) but, in addition, I also even credit Plotinus for the Broadest Achilles, which consists of an argument for continuous personal identity based on the simplicity of the soul [ARA pp. 8-10].

But, beyond that and more importantly. Professor Nielsen indicates that my infatuation with A. O. Lovejoy’s commitment to unit-ideas, exemplified in his classic The Great Chain of Being, leads me to operate with a rather “eccentric and confused conception” of the Achilles. I think that’s a fair criticism to which I would like to respond in the following manner. The unit-idea is not the Achilles argument as a whole. The unit-idea is the premise. The assumption is that the soul, along with its predicates, accidents, attributes, or properties are all simple, immaterial, unextended (just like Kant’s verse and its constituent words). (Although, by the way, Henry More, believed the soul to be both immaterial and extended.) As I have tried to correct – and argue – in subsequent publications, the simplicity premise has been used for no less than seven different conclusions: immortality; unity; personal identity; epistemological and metaphysical idealism; immanent time-consciousness; the freedom of self-consciousness; and the immaterial nature of meanings and relations. The Achilles of Rationalist Arguments was published in 1974. Since then there have been some twenty or so articles and reprints dedicated to “my” Achilles, the last one appearing in 2009, and I have tried to correct the confusion between the Achilles as a premise and as an argument. Actually, soon after the publication of my book, I rechristened the study calling it the Simplicity Argument.

Possibly, ARP appears to commit a similar “eccentricity and confusion” by assuming “Premise 2: Only a simple, unified substance can unify representations”; therefore the soul is (1) immortal (Broad Achilles) and (2) a unity (Narrow Achilles).

Let me also say this. Whether or not even the Broad Achilles can be attributed to Plato, it’s clearly the case that the second argument in the Phaedo is not considered by Plato as the strongest proof. Rather, Plato thinks that the strongest demonstration for an afterlife relies on the eternal synthetic a priori relation between the Forms of Life and Soul, which is modeled on an analogous connection established in the Meno between color and extension/shape [see Mijuskovic, “The Synthetic A Priori in Plato,” Dialogue, May, 1970]. But, of course, Plato invokes various arguments for immortality in different dialogues.

Also, I might suggest that in my mind there is a strong connection between Plato’s definition of the activity of thought, described as the soul’s internal dialogue with itself, and the ubiquitous reflexive, self-conscious paradigm of awareness that fuels the unity of consciousness claim, a model that is shared by Plato, Aristotle—see especially Aristotle’s characterization of the Unmoved Mover in the Metaphysics–Descartes, Leibniz, Kant, Hegel, and many, many others. It isn’t only that consciousness is a unity; it’s that it is first and foremost a mental activity.

Finally, I think it’s a bit of a stretch for Professor Nielsen to usher in a discussion of the Wooden Horse metaphor from the Theaetetus, which deals with the five bodily senses as opposed to the obviously more relevant immaterial or simple concepts and their resultant unification in judgments. Certainly, this has little or no resemblance to Kant’s Second Paralogism argument. And I’m not sure what insight it provides in furthering the discussion. And, in fact, on ARA page 7, I state the following: “In the Republic and Phaedrus, of course, Plato refers to the tri-partite nature of the soul and this at once brings up the problem of reconciling the simplicity of the soul with its compositeness.”

The reason I dismissed pursuing the topic any further is because at least two of the parts of the soul are physical. And I conclude by saying: “But at least this much is certain; according to Plato, in order for the soul to be able to grasp the essence of the immaterial forms, in knowledge, it must itself share in the attribute of immateriality. However, whether from this Plato also believed that the soul’s simplicity followed is not clear” [ARA, p. 7].

Theories of Consciousness, Therapy and Loneliness

Over twenty years later Mijuskovic picks up where he left off with the last chapter of Contingent Immaterialism, in an article for the International Journal of Philosophical Practice – a journal of the American Society for Philosophy, Counseling and Psychotherapy – entitled “Theories of Consciousness, Therapy, and Loneliness,” he discusses the clinical or therapeutic ramifications of the therapist’s philosophy of mind. A materialist philosophy typically leads the therapist to use chemical or medicinal solutions; whereas, an immaterialist philosophy focuses upon counseling and treating the patient’s mental state before resulting to medicinal treatment. This article is a beautiful look at the interplay between the philosophical and practical sides of the simplicity argument. Individual lives have been drastically affected by the materialistic philosophy of mind held by the majority of psychiatrists and psychologists. Mijuskovic advocates more holistic approaches in addition to medicine to provide a more well-rounded practice in our clinics.

The entire work is available for download here.

Contingent Immaterialism

Mijuskovic’s second major work on the simplicity argument was published ten years after his first. Contingent Immaterialism is predominantly based upon previous articles and is a comprehensive look at the fifth through seventh uses of the simplicity argument.

The structure of the book is divided into three sections, the first two are pertinent to the philosophical dimensions of the simplicity argument and the third delves into its implications for contemporary clinical therapy. The second through fourth chapters each tackle a particular use. The fifth chapter is a republished version of “The Simplicity Argument versus a Materialist Theory of Consciousness.” The sixth chapter begins the transition from the simplicity argument to loneliness that continues a progression of thought through the end of the book. It focuses upon three aspects of consciousness which have a quality of transcendence: meanings, time and freedom. It is in these last chapters that the reader gets a clearer sense of the influence of existentialism upon Mijuskovic’s thought. The seventh chapter continues the discussion of time that the fourth chapter introduces, but it builds upon the case for the immateriality of the space-time continuum through further examination of Heidegger, Kant, Bergson and Husserl. The last chapter discusses the psycho-social implications of the previous chapters and offers an interdisciplinary survey of the inherent loneliness of man as it is manifested in philosophy, psychology and literature.

Contingent Immaterialism is a bridge between the philosophy and psychology of the simplicity argument. Mijuskovic’s third book Loneliness is a further exploration of the logical conclusion of solipsism. Individuals are basically left to consider one of two alternatives. The mind is inaccessible from outside human contact or the mind is only accessible to God.[1] Whether one is inclined to believe the former or the latter largely depends upon his or her religious convictions. If solipsism is the ultimate state of human consciousness, loneliness is a huge motivating factor for human behavior. The isolated state of mental life results in pursuits of pleasure and connectedness through friendship, marriage, and sexual relations.