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David L. Thompson
Memorial University of Newfoundland
  1.  59
    Body as the Unity of Action.David L. Thompson - manuscript
    Kosgaard claims that selves/agents self-constitute during actions by relying on principles such as Kant’s Categorical Imperative. This intellectualist approach neglects the body. Merleau-Ponty considers the “lived body” and its perceptual world as the source of the unity of action, an approach that I extrapolate to all biological organisms.
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  2.  56
    Contextualizing Objects.David L. Thompson - manuscript
    Four philosophers, Husserl, Wittgenstein, Dennett, and Hegel, who hold for the most part radically different philosophies, all agree on rejecting the notion of atomic entities, of “things-in-themselves,” and insist that objects only make sense – can only be what they are -- in a context.
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  3.  23
    Defining Language.David L. Thompson - manuscript
    Language defines human existence. Yet defining language is a fraught project. I use the term "language" to refer to a specific mode of information transfer. First, it is a communicative mode. By communication I mean the information transfer serves a function, that is, an activity that occurs because it has increased the evolutionary fitness of ancestors. Secondly, while all communication is governed by norms, human communication, as opposed to biological communication, is governed by norms that have evolved within the learned (...)
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  4.  9
    Normative Binding.David L. Thompson - manuscript
    Why should anyone be bound by cognitive norms, such as the norms of reason or mathematics? To become a mathematician is to learn to obey the norms of the mathematical community. A self becomes intentional by binding itself to communal norms. Only then can it have the freedom to think or make assertions about the community’s objects -- triangles or imaginary numbers, for example. Norms do not bind selves from the outside: being bound by norms is what constitutes a self.
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  5.  30
    Norms of Life.David L. Thompson - manuscript
    Biological organisms, languages and selves are normative entities, so must be understood in terms of norms. Mechanistic understanding is based on causal necessity, but normative understanding relies on a grasp of the contingencies of evolution, history and personal experience.
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  6.  26
    Origins of Objectivity.David L. Thompson - manuscript
    Tomasello offers an evolutionary, palaeoanthropological account of the human origin of objects and objectivity. Husserl gives a phenomenological account of the constitution of objects by intersubjectivity. Comparing the two, I claim that Tomasello’s “naturalized” approach closely parallels Husserl’s transcendental approach.
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  7.  12
    The Constitution of Objects by Systems.David L. Thompson - manuscript
    Against the concept that objects are defined by their self-contained essence – “thing-in-themselves” – Husserl and Foucault claim they are defined by intersubjectivity or social institutions. I argue that biological and even physical (complex) systems can constitute the unity and meaning of objects.
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  8.  29
    The Evolutionary Origin of Selfhood in Normative Emotions.David L. Thompson - manuscript
    Modern selfhood presents itself as autonomous, overcoming emotion by following cognitive, moral and linguistic norms on the basis of clear, rational principles. It is difficult to imagine how such normative creatures could have evolved from their purely biological, non-normative, primate ancestors. I offer a just-so story to make it easier to imagine this transition. Early hominins learned to cooperate by developing group identities based on tribal norms. Group identity constituted proto-selves as normative creatures. Such group identity was not based on (...)
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