Nick Byrd’s Blog

Non-Western Philosophy of Mind

I have been considering changes to my Philosophy of Mind syllabus. One kind of change would be to include non-Western philosophies and philosophers. So I did what every scholar of our era does when it’s time to venture in to new territory: I asked #PhilosophyTwitter. In this post, I’ll share the results.

1. The Twitter Thread

Just in case people add to the thread after I post this, you can find the latest by clicking on the original Tweet below. And you’re welcome to add to it, obviously.

2. Non-Western Philosophers of Mind

Monima Chadha has been prolifically publishing on Buddhist and Classic Indian philosophy of mind (and other areas of philosophy) for years. They are also the author of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry entitled, “Perceptual Experience and Concepts in Classical Indian Philosophy“. @SomeStingray more or less recommended their entire corpus!

Kisor Kumar Chakrabarti has been the President of the Society for Indian Philosophy & Religion, translated various texts, and published in multiple philosophy journals. @SomeStingray recommended their book Classical Indian Philosophy of Mind.

Helen De Cruz. Helen has put together a Biology and Mind syllabus—thanks to David Colaço (@Sadness_Party) for the pointer—that includes various non-Western sources, both historical and contemporary. You will see that I have included philosophers and texts from the syllabus in this post.

George Dreyfus. Their faculty webpage lists “Indian Buddhist philosophy (philosophy of mind, epistemology, metaphysics)”, “[t]he role of religion in the rise of contemporary forms of nationalism, particularly in Buddhist countries”, and “Asian Studies”.

Jonardon Ganeri. Their PhilPeople profile mentions “the history of ideas in early modern South Asia”, “intellectual affinities between India, Greece and China, and early Buddhist philosophy of mind”, and other signs of relevant specialization. @SomeStingray recommended Ganeri’s The Self: Naturalism, Consciousness, and the First-Person Stance and Cory Travers Lewis (@corytlewis) recommended his “Emergentisms, Ancient and Modern“.

Kwame Gyekye (1939-2019). Gyekye is the author of the “African Ethics” entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and African political philosophy. “He was the author of Tradition and Modernity: Philosophical Reflections on the African Experience and An Essay on African Philosophical Thought: The Akan Conceptual Scheme, among many other works” (DailyNous).

Bryce Huebner (@NeuroYogacara). I’ve long benefitted from reading and discussing cognitive science and philosophy of mind with Bryce—even though I don’t think that we’ve met in person yet. In addition to their work on implicit bias and dual process theories, Bryce has also “explor[ed] ways to integrate insights from Yogācāra Buddhism with models from computational and cognitive neuroscience.”

Yohan John (@DrYohanJohn), featuring a Ph.D. in Cognitive & Neural Systems from Boston University, various academic publications on Google Scholar and multiple contributions to 3QuarksDaily.

Mog Stapleton. Recommended by Jonathan McKinney (@mc_kupo).

Evan Thompson. Multiple colleagues recommended Thompson. They specialize in “cognitive science, philosophy of mind, phenomenology, and cross-cultural philosophy, especially Asian philosophical traditions” according to his website.

Ajume Wingo. Among many publications, Ajume is—among other things—the author of “Akan Philosophy of the Person” entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy—also featured in Helen de Cruz’s aforementioned syllabus.

3. Non-Western Philosophy of Mind

Al-Ghazali, A., & Yusuf, H. (2010). The mMarvels of the Heart: Science of the Spirit. Ihya Ulum Al-Din—The Revival of the Religious Sciences (T. J. Winter, Ed.; W. J. Skellie, Trans.). Fons Vitae.

Asanga. (2019). A Compendium of the Mahayana: Asanga’s Mahayanasamgraha and Its Indian and Tibetan Commentaries (K. Brunnholzl, Trans.). Snow Lion.

McGinnis, J., & Reisman, D. C. (Eds.). (2007). Classical Arabic Philosophy: An Anthology of Sources. Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.

Mengzi. (2008). Mengzi: With Selections from Traditional Commentaries (B. W. V. Norden, Trans.; UK ed. edition). Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.

Nickels, S., Kelley, K., Grable, C., Lougheed, M., & Kuptana, J. (Eds.). (n.d.). Nilliajut: Inuit perspectives on security, patriotism and sovereignty (K. Kablutsiak, S. Hill, R. A. Qitsualik, & Z. Nungak, Trans.). Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.

Pesala, B. (2000). The Debate of King Milinda. Penang: Inner Path.

Tiwald, J., & Norden, B. W. V. (Eds.). (2014). Readings in Later Chinese Philosophy: Han to the 20th Century. Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.

Xunzi. (2014). Xunzi: The Complete Text. Princeton University Press.

Zhuangzi. (2013). The Complete Works of Zhuangzi (B. Watson, Trans.; Illustrated edition). Columbia University Press.

Upon Reflection Podcast, Ep. 7: Unreflective Intentions Are Compatible With Free Will

On this episode of Upon Reflection, I read my 2021 paper in Logoi titled, “On Second Thought, Libet-style Unreflective Intentions May Be Compatible With Free Will“. Imagine if I could predict your behavior before you even became of your conscious of your intention to behave that way. Would this mean that you don’t have free will? I used to think so. In this paper, I explain why I was wrong: my view of free will involved magical thinking.

Continue reading Upon Reflection Podcast, Ep. 7: Unreflective Intentions Are Compatible With Free Will

Upon Reflection Podcast, Ep. 6: Your Health vs. My Liberty (COVID-19 Research Paper)

Welcome to the latest episode of Upon Reflection. This time, I read my paper with Michał Białek, “Your health vs. my liberty: Philosophical beliefs dominated reflection and identifiable victim effects when predicting public health recommendation compliance during the COVID-19 pandemic” (Total N = 998).

As the title suggests we found that complying with public health recommendations didn’t depend on whether people received messaging about identifiable COVID-19 victims or statistical victims in flatten the curve graphs. Rather compliance increased the more that people endorsed an effective altruist principle about reducing harm and the more that they endorsed the truth of scientific theories, but compliance decreased as people valued liberty more than equality. Importantly, we also found that people were less likely to prevent the spread of disease by wearing masks and staying at home if the pandemic was equally deadly, but labeled as a “flu” pandemic—-mostly because they perceived this as less threatening to society. We think this suggests that people’s life-threatening decisions to flout public health recommendations like mask-wearing and staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic was not just about ineffective messaging, but also about their prior philosophical commitments.

Continue reading Upon Reflection Podcast, Ep. 6: Your Health vs. My Liberty (COVID-19 Research Paper)

How To Prepare For A Thesis Defense

I defended my doctoral dissertation in 2020—yes, remotely. I also defended a master’s thesis a few years earlier. I learned a few things and sought plenty of advice between these two defenses. In this post I will share the checklist that I used to prepare for the dissertation defense.

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6 Tips For Academic Presentations

Like many academics, I’ve given dozens of academic presentations and dozens more audio and video interviews in the past few years. After a series of subpar presentations, plenty of feedback, and lots of practice, I now get remarkably positive feedback on these presentations. For example, some professors have advised their graduate students to model their job talks after some of the talks that I have given about reasoning, morality, and religion. In this post, I’ll share the best advice for academic presentations that I have received so far, focusing only on what I have found to be most helpful.

Continue reading 6 Tips For Academic Presentations

5 Ways To Overcome Junk Data From mTurk (and online surveys more generally)

The data quality on Amazon Mechanical Turk (mTurk) has suffered for years now (Chandler & Paolacci, 2017; Moss & Litman, 2018; Chmielewski & Kucker, 2019; Ahler et al., 2020; Kennedy et al., 2020; MacInnis et al., 2020). There are a few ways to protect online survey data quality. In this post, I will briefly cover five strategies for weeding out junk data in online research (not just via mTurk), from easiest to hardest.

Continue reading 5 Ways To Overcome Junk Data From mTurk (and online surveys more generally)

What good is reflective reasoning?

Philosophers and cognitive scientists tend to think that reflective reasoning will improve our judgments and decisions. The idea reflection will lead us to test our judgments by “looking for their coherence with our beliefs about similar cases and our beliefs about a broader range of …issues” a la reflective equilibrium. This sounds intuitively plausible. But is it true? In this post I briefly present some research suggesting that reflective reasoning often, but does not always improve our judgments and decisions.  Continue reading What good is reflective reasoning?