Ontology Current: Clockwork Universe Previous: Spirituous Hypothesis- these (the list made of controversial beliefs) are vestigial beliefs left over from a previous epoch (medieval) cases that go beyond the assumed mechanical world

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Here are notes the TA made regarding class material for paper 1. You may be able to use them to enrich your paper. jy


Hypothesis- These (the list made of controversial beliefs) are vestigial beliefs left over from a previous epoch (medieval) cases that go beyond the assumed mechanical world.

  • With a few exceptions these contain an element of “spirit” (hidden non-mechanical connections)


  1. Appearances were real

    1. Medicines… e.g. hepatica (wild flower) for liver disease

  2. Belief in Hidden Connections

    1. Magicians- “hidden knowledge”

    2. Witches- “Wissen” meaning to know

    3. Astrology- the stars control disease and happenings

  3. Earth was considered a special place

    1. Sublunary (below moon) vs. Supralunary (above, past the moon)- Galileo’s telescope caused issues with this thought

  4. Spirits, Ghosts, Angels- “The essence” of all things

    1. Example-wine, beer spirits—“higher” “lower” spirits

    2. Kepler’s “anima matrix”- planets pushed through space by this

Descartes: 1596-1650

  • Universe is like a machine

  • Mind and body interact

    • Dualism

  • Leads to empiricism, materialism


  • Presents a “dead” world (compared to previous age), completely mechanical, w/a mere island of “spirit” consciousness

  • Illustrating extreme mechanism example:

    • Planets are pushed in their orbits around the sun by “vortices” – opposed to Keplet

    • Dissected live cats—cats only “simulate” emotion

  • “I think therefore I am”------- Yields an island of spirit

John Locke and British Empiricists

  • Objected to dualism

  • Established theory of psychology based on sensory elements- empirical

  • Wilhelm Wundt brought Locke to the lab

  • J.B. Watson objected to introspection, established behaviorism (1920)

  • 1940’s Development of the computer (Turing)—can machines think?—yes

  • 1950’s Beginnings of Cognitive Psychology

CGS determines what is real – only thing that exists in a mechanistic world

  • C = centimeters (special extent)

  • G = grams (mass)

  • S = seconds (time)

Materialism-what’s real is all that matters—spirit isn’t real

Epiphenomenon: A does not produce B thoughts—consciousness does. It is not causal, it’s just an experience.

A  B  C 

↑ ↑ ↑

A’  B’ C’

***How is this relevant to class?- How we think matters… are people willing to accept a completely mechanistic world? A lot of movies keep a spiritual view.

  • The current ontology is problematic for a theory of thinking and consciousness—it’s a metaphor invented by Descartes

  • Computers: Can they feel/have emotions? Can they have a conscious?

    • Our model of what’s real is based off of a machine. A computer is a machine and can think. As is the mind/brain—we should be able to break down the program and understand HOW the brain “thinks”.

    • This is a metaphor; pragmatism

  • If we can’t tell the difference between a human and a computer, then the computer must be thinking.

    • Yates’ doubts:

      • Works best with a digital computer. Babbage created a computer designed to do math—always broke (made with dowels and wires). Harder to associate thought with that vs. our current day computer.

        • Turing had his female workers all programmed on how they worked by passing along certain paperwork.

        • Computers have consciousness and can think

        • Chinese box (Searle)- You put in something written in English and it comes out translated in Chinese—person in box uses a translation dictionary.

      • Operational Definition of computer programs

        • I’m human, evolved, what is the program?

        • Computer programs are human made

      • The problem of consciousness… it’s a mystery.

        • Yates doesn’t see how we can make consciousness into a machine

          • Example: most people would say visual neurons fire and we aren’t conscious of this though, or the heart beating, lungs breathing, etc.

      • Discrepancy b/w our experience and our ideology

      • Automation- a lot we do is just automatic so it may be similar to a machine, but yet we still have to think and make decisions.

Still a lot that hasn’t been solved w/Cognitive Psychology but we can mechanize what we think we know
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