Josh Kortbein
Phil 4501
October 31

Susan Feagin, "Reading with Feeling"

What is a simulation?

A kind of process which imitates other processes. The more similarity between the basic internal structural relationships of the simulation and the thing simulated, the better the simulation. Disimulation: no structural similarity, but external appearance of similarity.

What is required for a simulation?

Ability to shift psychological "gears," go "offline," etc.

Ways to fail: fail to conjure the relevant or sufficient numbers of relevant ideas or thoughts corresponding to the "input" an individual would receive, and that would be salient in that person's (person simulated) attention and experience. Fail to get the ideas and thoughts to play the sorts of roles that would be played by the actual sensations and beliefs. Remedy: experimentation and practice.

Another way to fail: be mistaken about which beliefs or desires of mine would be psychologically most effective. Be mistaken about how what someone else sees and hears would be processed psychologically.

(This is not to say that beliefs always are always explicitly formed or employed.)

Simulations contrasted with theories

Theory is a systematic set of beliefs, including beliefs about laws or lawlike generalizations, about a thing's behavior. Models (including simulations) are often constructed precisely because one doesn't know what laws or generalizations govern the object's behavior. One need not have the second-order beliefs about unasserted thoughts in order for the thoughts to play the appropriate roles in the simulation.

Empathizing with people and with ficitonal characters

Conditions for empathizing with other people: reflective component of appreciation, reflection combined with a hypothesis concerning what accounts for the qualitative aspects of experience, engaging in simulation out of a desire to empathize with or understand a particular individual (to rule out coincidences).

Appreciation: two components, experiental and reflective. Former includes affects, experiences, various activities engaged in during the process of reading. Latter is necessary to identify and explain the relevance or irrelevance, appropriateness or inappropriateness, of any given affect or activity. A lack of reflection doesn't keep the experience from being relevant or appropriate; just keeps one from knowing it.

Objection: inputs (to characters, to reader) are different, so responses must be qualitatively different. Response: psychological activity or processing of inputs may still be structurally analogous (cf. computer simulations of human mental activities, keyboard, sense organs). Argument to follow about why.

Simulation and qualia

Recall earlier condition for empathy: phenomenological quality of experience is the same for empathizer, protagonist.

Hypothesis: qualitative character of affective or emotional experience is at least partly a function of the structure of the process out of which it arises.

Two ways of thinking about emotions, moods, feelings which accomodate hypothesis: emotions defined as states identified in part by their phenomenology (emotions have the phenomenology they do because the states are the effects of certain sorts of processes); emotions defined as processes of such a nature or structure that they (characteristically) give rise to experiences of a given character. Either way, nature and structure of the processes, not merely mental contents, is what's important.

Simulation and knowledge

Simulation as a source of nonpropositional knowledge?