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Psychology and Nihilism
A Genealogical Critique of the Computational Model of Mind
Psychology and Nihilism
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Fred Evans - Author
SUNY series in the Philosophy of the Social Sciences
Price: $52.50 
Hardcover - 303 pages
Release Date: December 1992
ISBN10: 0-7914-1249-0
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-1249-7

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Price: $28.95 
Paperback - 303 pages
Release Date: December 1992
ISBN10: 0-7914-1250-4
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-1250-3

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"Evans' most brilliant stroke consists of demonstrating that cognitive psychology must presuppose the very sorts of things which it presumes it can do without, e.g., tacit understanding and an intimate relation to the life-world. Moreover, Evans suggests that a more positive and productive model of psychology can be devised if attention is paid to the idea of a 'transfigurative rationality' which underlies and surpasses the 'technocratic rationality' that is currently dominant in cognitive and other forms of psychology. Nietzsche's notions of the 'the last man' and of 'passive nihilism' are effectively brought to bear in this remarkable book." -- Edward S. Casey, SUNY, Stony Brook

"The author succeeds in showing how cognitive psychology not only unwittingly reflects the currents of nihilism rampant in our time, but also reinforces them with its truncated, technocratic, inadequate conceptions of human minds, human language, human creativity, and human beings.

"The work can help to bring psychology and philosophy into dialogue with each other, breaking down some of the artificial separations that exist between the two fields. It shows the indispensable relevance of philosophical analysis and criticism to theories and claims in psychology.

"The part of the book that I found most illuminating was its explanation of something I have always found to be mystifying--the seeming eagerness of many intellectuals to conceive of ourselves and the universe as nothing more than complex machines. Evans attributes it to the fear of a life without guarantees, a life fraught with ambiguities, uncertainties, diversities, fecund possibilities, and elusive, inexhaustible plays of images--a life that cannot be contained, captured, controlled, or made completely explicable and predictable.

"Cognitive psychology, he contends, tries to find sanctuary from this concrete world by retreating into an abstract world of idealizations and precise relationships, the world of the machine, the world of the computer, and then to claim that this perfectly secure world is, after all, the literal, real world. This is insightful analysis." -- Donald A. Crosby, Colorado State University

Fred J. Evans is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Duquesne University.


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Table of Contents

Foreword

Acknowledgments

Preface

1. Nihilism and Nietzsche's "Last Man"

The Crisis of Modernity
The "Mind's New Science"
The Mind's New Science and Genealogical Critique
Plato versus Homer
Nietzsche's Genealogical Critique of "Ascetic Values"
Reactive Nihilism and Its Progeny: The "Overman" versus the "Last Man"

2. Nietzsche's "Last Man" and Modernity

Marx, Lyotard, and the Metanarratives of Modernity
Modern Literature and Passive Nihilism
Philosophical Critics of Modernity: Heidegger, Horkheimer/Adorno, and Foucault
Gramsci's "Organic Intellectuals," "Performativity," and the Problem of Agency

3. The Psychology of the "Last Man"

Modern Psychology and the "Analytic Observer"
The Analytic Oberver as "Proto-Technocrat": From Behaviorism to the Computational Rationality of the Turing Machine
Cognitive Psychology and the Computational Model of Mind

4. The Science of the "Last Man"

The Analytic Observer and the "Received View" of Science
The "Received View" of Science
Cognitive Psychology and Scientific Explanation
The Weltanschauung View of Science
Weltanschauung and Social Discourse

5. The Self-Overcoming of the "Proto-Technocrat"

Cognitive Psychologists as Creators
Miller and Johnson-Laird's "Decompositional Odyssey" of the Proto-Technocrat
The Self-Overcoming of the Proto-Technocrat
Connectionism
Ecological Cognitivism

6. The Emergence of the Phenomenological Perceiver and the Circularity of Experimental Evidence in Cognitive Psychology

The Return to Presence
Merleau-Ponty and the Notion of the "Body-Subject"
The Circularity of Experimental Evidence in Cognitive Psychology

7. Cognitive Psychology and the Productive Dimension of Language

The Productive Dimension of Language
The Language of the "Proto-Technocrat": Procedural Semantics and Its Propositional Rivals
The Transformation of the Propositional View of Linguistic Meaning into the "Significative Intention" of the Body-Subject

8. Phenomenology, Post-Structuralism, and the Productive Dimension of Language

Language, Subjects, and Linguistic Agency
Phenomenology and the Limits of the "Primacy of Perception"
The Primacy of Discourse: Foucault, Lyotard, and Derrida
The Limits of Discourse

9. Linguistic Agency and the Interplay of Voices

"Voice" and Linguistic Agency: Nuances on Bakhtin's Notion of "Heteroglossia"
Nihilism and "Oracles"
The Self-Overcoming of Nihilism

10. Beyond the "Last Man": Genealogical Psychology and Transfigurative Rationality

Genealogical Psychology
Transfigurative Rationality and Metaphor
Cognitive Psychology and Metaphor
Metaphor and Experimental Circularity in Cognitive Psychology
Beyond the "Last Man"

Notes

References

Index



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