Mentality and Object: Computational and Cognitive Diachronic Emergence


  • Ekin Erkan


Philosophy of Mind, Epistemology, Machine-State functionalism, Kant, Wilfrid Sellars, Non-reductive Physicalism, Emergence


Espousing non-reductive physicalism, how do we pick out the specific relevant physical notion(s) from physical facts, specifically in relation to phenomenal experience? Beginning with a historical review of Gilbert Ryle's behaviorism and moving through Hilary Putnam's machine-state functionalism and Wilfrid Sellars' inferential framework, up to more contemporaneous computationalist- and cognitivist-functionalism (Gualtiero Piccinini), we survey accounts of mentality that countenance the emergence of mental states vide input- and output-scheme. Ultimately arriving at the conclusion that functionalism cannot account for problems such as no-cognition reports, we see any robust defense of physicalism must appeal to other principles. Thus we move on to the question of emergence, not as it pertains to the hard(er) problem, but to the matter of conceptual externalization of mental properties from physical properties. Accordingly, we navigate Karen Bennett's compatibilist solution to the exclusion argument against mental causation for the non-reductive physicalist position, according to which the physical effects of mental cases are not overdetermined, demonstrating that this backfires by offering a path for the mind-body interactionist Dualist to claim causal closure by appealing to this same schema. We conclude with a series of conceptual musings regarding rationality which take into account our challenges and findings, querying about whether phenomenal consciousness is a fundamentally private, or socially configured, notion.


Author Biography

Ekin Erkan

Ekin Erkan studied Film and Media studies student as a graduate student at Columbia University and is currently pursuing post-graduate study in Critical Philosophy under Reza Negarestani's tutelage. Erkan also is a columnist and critic at the art and literature journal AEQAI and, in addition to his work on aesthetics and philosophy of art, Erkan has published writing on François Laruelle's "non-ethics,” AI and creative non-calculation, and post-Deleuzian film theory in peer-reviewed publications including the Cincinnati Romance Review, Chiasma, Alphaville, and Rhizomes. Erkan is also currently working with Giacomo Gilmozzi on Bernard Stiegler's United Nations 2020 World Summit initiative "Internation.World.” Erkan will be publishing a book on the collective closure between, early digital utopianism, and the Marxist-Leninst Turkish hacktivist group Redhack in the Fall of 2019.


03-10-2020 — Updated on 06-12-2021

How to Cite

Erkan, E. (2021). Mentality and Object: Computational and Cognitive Diachronic Emergence. Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, 16(2), 296–356. Retrieved from