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PHL383 January 28 notes.docx

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Thomas Mathien

January 28, 2013  Mental disorder: condition that makes us worse off, even if we’re under a state of euphoria  It doesn’t come on voluntarily  It’s a challenge to find that element in addiction cases  It’s not a disorder of the brain, even if it depends on some mechanisms operating in the brain  It is mental in 2 senses  Mentalistic terms used when describing the symptoms  And at least some of the propensity conditions need to be described in mentalistic terms  Strange choices, misperceptions, or depression triggered by amnesia  But these can be described in purely neuro-physiological terms  Mental life, but not an ordinary, rational individuals mental life  Doesn’t include being foolish, ignorant, or simply being a person who makes bad decisions  Not rational but not irrational in the sense that Graham is concerned  It has to be seriously disadvantageous  An impairment of a fundamental capacity  You can’t do something that others can do  Example of a serious impairment: Arthur is agoraphobic (fear of being in public places) makes it hard for him to go to the mall, or go to parents’ nights at work (he’s a teacher) – he is very hampered in his life because of his impairment  Test for mental impairment (page 20something): it’s a serious mental impairment if affects a fundamental capacity (original position defines these), it’s the kind of thing that without it you could be reasoned out of  Responsiveness to reason is limited  Impairment of rational faculties  In the areas where you’re impaired, reason doesn’t have its usual bite  Giving you more of anything won’t help  When we talk about the mental we’re theorizing and talking about that which is rational  The rational and the intentional are closely linked here, but it is not always intuitively obvious that my mental life is exclusively or particularly rational/reasonable  Theory of intentionality (John Searle): the intentional mental states and the rational are implicated with each other  Live of the mind is to live rationally  Concepts have an inherent connectivity, they can’t exist without having a series of things connect to them  What are the connections required? They require rationality – they won’t work otherwise  Example of rational norm: logical inclusion, principle of contradictions  Impairment of intentionality and connectivity (capacity to move from one ordered content to another)  Mental disorder is a serious failure of a rational function  Intentional constituted by the rational?  Concerns #1  Think about whether animals have mental states or not, if they have a mental life (which we are inclined to believe this)  Do all intentional contents require concepts?  Maybe if we use ‘content’ we bias a whole set of considerations  Useful distinction between the object of the state vs. the content of that state  The object being seen, heard, experienced which is not immediately convertible into a conceptual mode, some objects cannot be conceptualized at all – all we can say is ‘there is it’  Distinction between that which the object is about (referent) and that which is said (predication)  Yes it involves content but equally it involves an object, about which we apply the conceptual tools of description  When we think about that rationality involved in content is it descriptive of that thing or more normative?  Not that it constitutes the thought we have (although it might), but that which to govern our thought of the object  At the very least there have to be minimal logical connections in our thoughts  Basic principles like non-contradiction  Professor’s contention: the only inherent rationality in the intentional is the rationality with the contents and no the object, how we think of/describe our awareness of the referent, the only requirements may be the simplest basic requirements of formal logic  You may expect more in a complex intentional performance, but we still recognize the performance as at least minimally logical  Page 20 (or 120?): Graham supposes that when we get into the realm of the mental (that which we are aware), among the connections (within our aims and reasons), this is what gives us a special transparency of a choice or mental action in a mental state  If there’s no rationality it’s not mental, with mental disorders the rationality is not gone, it’s just not functioning as it should  You may be rational in another sense  Page 156: 4 theses for mental disorder  Rationality disability thesis: mental disorder involves impairment of reason responsiveness  Harm thesis: mental disorder produces bad consequences for the person who suffers it maybe others as well  Mixed source thesis: 2 kinds of contributing factors (something neuro no necessarily a neuro-disorder, think PTSD example)  Limitation of rationality in mental disorder and also some preservation of rationality  Page 147/148 proposed and rejects the super social psychologist who can survey people’s mental capacities and look at what happens when they exercise various capacities and how people judge these things and then comes to a certain conclusion  He prefers to go another way because we can’t do such massive social psychology: ask the question  Suppose you don’t know what you’re good at, and what your circumstances are going to be, no personal talents or weaknesses, or your environment. You could be anybody with ordinary human capacities and interests, but if you knew nothing about them, what would you take?  Everyone should be able to come up with a more or less common answer as things we have to have in order to have a decent human life  Good life doesn’t mean happy life  Graham’s list of what we’d consider to be essential for a decent life and serious impairment would render the life:  Capacity for conscious experience – just having a pleasant experience would not be enough  Capacity to locate oneself in space – ability
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