Vendredi 9 décembre 2016 2016 de 11h30 à 13h
Institut Jean-Nicod, Pavillon Jardin, ENS, 29, rue d'Ulm 75005. Salle de réunion, RDC
Dorothea Debus (University of York)
Title: "Shaping Our Mental Lives: On the Possibility of Mental Self-Regulation".
Abstract: The present paper considers our ability to 'shape our own mental lives'; more specifically, it considers the claim that subjects sometimes can and do engage in 'mental self-regulation', that is, that subjects sometimes can be, and are, actively involved with their own mental lives in a goal-directed way. This ability of mental self-regulation has been rather neglected by contemporary philosophers of mind, but I show why it deserves careful philosophical attention. In order to further our understanding of the nature of the phenomenon of mental self-regulation and to locate it within the wider context of our everyday (mental) lives and the world we live in, I proceed to develop some conditions which need to be met in order for a subject to be able to engage in mental self-regulation. In developing those conditions we find that compared to the physical realm, our mental lives are a rather elusive domain in the face of attempts at intervention, and our ability to intervene upon our own mental lives is rather fragile. We also find that our ability to regulate our own mental lives in many cases depends on our possession of mental skills and mental know-how. Both these observations in turn throw new light on our understanding of the nature of the human mind.