Life as Perpetual Motion Machine: Adrian Johnston and the Continental Credibility Crisis

Three Pound Brain

In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman cites the difficulty we have distinguishing experience from memory as the reason why we retrospectively underrate our suffering in a variety of contexts. Given the same painful medical procedure, one would expect an individual suffering for twenty minutes to report a far greater amount than an individual suffering for half that time or less. Such is not the case. As it turns out duration has “no effect whatsoever on the ratings of total pain” (380). Retrospective assessments, rather, seem determined by the average of the pain’s peak and its coda.

Absent intellectual effort, the default is to remove the band-aid slowly.

Far from being academic, this ‘duration neglect,’ as Kahneman calls it, places the therapist in something of a bind. What should the physician’s goal be? The reduction of the pain actually experienced, or the reduction of the pain remembered

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11 responses to “Life as Perpetual Motion Machine: Adrian Johnston and the Continental Credibility Crisis

    • More and more I think Scott is pushing the envelope on thinking about think-ability, and how philosophy can move forward. For a while now it has seemed like metaphysicians are working really hard to maintain conceptual and professional space for their pet phantasies and research. The need to reconcile ourselves and our rationalizations to the results generated by empirical science has never been greater considering the deeper crisis gathering via most planetary systems, but yet we still cling to our old concepts and divisions and philosophical decisions like babes with blankies. There is no escape from the force of the non-human within and non-theoretical without. Ontic happenings pre-figure ontological abstractions. And this is NOT to say that speculative theory is without merit or use-value, but only a complete revolution in advanced conceptual associations will affect the kinds of changes in relations between methods and theory required for the project of translating and knowing and behaving differently (i.e., Facing Gaia). Sometimes adaptation requires radical mutation..

        • I’m really looking forward to interviewing Scott. There is a lot going on in his 3-pounder that could shed light on post-nihilistic possibilities for adaptive cognition. Currently eye-deep in his blog to gather all thoughts to be explored. His high confidence in ‘scientific images’ is a bit of a red flag, but the gist of his argument seems sound. Socrates still said it best: as soon as we realize that we don’t know we are on our wat towards philosophical maturity. A maturity that breeds innovation (for new copings and modes of existence) maybe?

      • I’m sure it’s my own bias/preference speaking but I tend to associate that kind of maturity with fallibilism, not sure how that plays with/in BBT…

        • Yes, fallibilism! That is an important hub of think-thought. Peirce and Dewey were good at spreading the word. Fallibilism, then, connects with pragmatism in ways that allow humans to talk and speculate with humility and practicality – at least in theory. It depends how it all plays out via communicative action but the potential for reflexive thought/speak is greatly enhanced vbia such frames. Discourse and discursive machines are affective resonance activities for, wait for it….., coping!

          Where ‘Blind Brain Theory’ slides in is on the evidential side of ponderance. If cognitive science can show how cognitive biases work and how deep they run then some sort of fallibilism should become our default position. What types of cognitions might we generate after discovering what Socrates already yelped at us…? New sense-abilities?

        • “As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed.” – James Madison

          “Clearly, the decision-making that we rely on in society is fallible. It’s highly fallible, and we should know that.” – Daniel Kahneman

          “The public knows that human beings are fallible. Only people blinded by ideology fall into the trap of believing in their own infallibility.” – Freeman Dyson

          “Reason itself is fallible, and this fallibility must find a place in our logic.” – Nicola Abbagnano

      • here’s what I tried to raise in the comment thread above in my to&fro with RSB:
        ” post hoc ‘functions’ that attempt to account for the astronomical complexities of human communicative interaction” I don’t really see that we can ever get around/beyond this entirely tho obviously we can own them as such and continue to develop tools/techniques that give us new ways to manipulate differing aspects of our environs into new assemblages, which is why I try to pitch talk of proto-types vs arche-types, preferably with a maker’s-marks and even visible tool-marks showing that they have been engineered/bricolaged for specific purposes/situations and will likely need to be reworked and or scrapped for others.

    • sure, I’m enjoying the to and fro, unlike so much of what happens on the intertubes there are actually some ideas (and not just egos/personalities) at stake, must say that brer noir has been doing most of the heavy-lifting on his site.
      Looking forward to your own upcoming work along these lines.

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