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  • 1.
    Parthemore, Joel
    University of Skövde, School of Bioscience. University of Skövde, The Systems Biology Research Centre.
    A cognitive semiotic perspective on the nature and limitations of concepts andconceptual frameworks2016In: Meaning, Mind and Communication: Explorations in Cognitive Semiotics / [ed] Jordan Zlatev, Göran Sonesson, Piotr Konderak, Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang Publishing Group, 2016, p. 47-68Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Known under the potentially misleading rubric of “knowledge representation” in cognitive science, theories of concepts represent both a subfield within philosophy of mind and an application area for cognitive semiotics. They describe the properties of conceptual thought, typically through a listing of those properties: minimally taken to include systematicity, productivity, compositionality, intentionality, and endogenous control. Beyond that point, most things are up for grabs. Debate rages over such questions as whether concepts are representations or abilities; likewise unclear is whether they are essentially public or largely private, discrete or continuous, stable or dynamic, transparent or translucent or opaque. Cognitive semiotics helps clarify discussion over an inevitably abstract area in a number of key ways: through its grounding in semiotics, showing how concepts both are entwined with language (intrinsically public) and pull apart from it; through its roots in phenomenology, showing how concepts both are and are not representations; through its focus on meaning as a dynamic process, showing how concepts’ relative stability belies an underlying dynamics; through its deep resonance with enactive philosophy, showing how concepts impose seemingly sharp boundaries onto underlying continuities; through its bold refusal to shy away from apparent contradictions and paradox, revealing how concepts both reveal the world and simultaneously hide it from us. As a concrete example, I discuss the conceptual nature of metaphor from a cognitive semiotic perspective. I show how – given the problematic nature of so-called literal meaning – the crucial distinction is not between literal and metaphorical meanings, but between tertiary/novel meanings and primary/secondary ones: between meanings that call attention to themselves and those that do not, where only the former are appropriately termed “metaphors”. The lesson is not that all meaning is metaphorical but rather that the line between metaphor and non-metaphor is pragmatic rather than absolute, conceptual rather than ontological.

  • 2.
    Parthemore, Joel
    University of Skövde, School of Bioscience. University of Skövde, The Systems Biology Research Centre.
    Consciousness, semiosis, and the unbinding problem2017In: Language & Communication, ISSN 0271-5309, E-ISSN 1873-3395, Vol. 54, p. 36-46Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Any wider discussion of semiosis must address not only how semiosis came about, in terms of evolutionary pressures and requisite cognitive infrastructure, but also – as importantly, and too easily forgotten – how human beings experience and have experienced it, and how that experience reflects (at the same time shaping) its development. Much discussion has focused on resolving how inputs from external sensory modalities combine with internal brain processes to produce unified consciousness: the so-called binding problem. One might wish to distinguish between the coming together of conscious experience in terms of underlying mechanics and the seemingly unavoidable reality that human beings experience a consciousness that is, from the onset, phenomenally unified. The unbinding problem is shown to be potentially just as important to telling the story.

  • 3.
    Parthemore, Joel
    University of Skövde, The Systems Biology Research Centre. University of Skövde, School of Bioscience.
    Understanding empathy: Metaphysical starting assumptions in the modeling of empathy and emotions2017In: Proceedings of AISB Annual Convention 2017: Society with AI / [ed] Joanna Bryson, Marina De Vos, Julian Padget, Bath, UK: The Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and the Simulation of Behaviour (AISB) , 2017, p. 263-267Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper has three main purposes: to set out the relationship between empathy and related phenomena, including emotional contagion; to explain how metaphysical starting assumptions regarding the nature of empathy predispose one toward one or another account of these phenomena and toward different interpretations of the same empirical data -- often radically different; and to use recent discussions of empathy in the phenomenological and enactive communities (in particular their rejection of theory of mind accounts) to put forward a radical proposal. In the paradigmatic cases, one feels that one is feeling (at least some substantive portion of) what another person is feeling: “I feel your pain”. But there are certain intense experiences along with certain related but less intense ones where there is, I claim, a single joint experience among two or more individuals. One could call these experiences “extreme” empathy. This is how phenomenologists should, I think, cash out the frequent claim that in many circumstances, one agent “directly” experiences the emotional state of another without requiring the mediation of anything like theory of mind.

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