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PHL383H1 Lecture Notes - Mental Disorder, John Searle, Agoraphobia

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Thomas Mathien

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January 28, 2013
Mental disorder: condition that makes us worse off, even if we’re under a state of
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
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
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
The rational and the intentional are closely linked here, but it is not always
intuitively obvious that my mental life is exclusively or particularly
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
Example of rational norm: logical inclusion, principle of contradictions
Impairment of intentionality and connectivity (capacity to move from one ordered
content to another)
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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
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
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
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
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