Article ID: CBB613627924

Striking at the Heart of Cognition: Aristotelian Phantasia, Working Memory, and Psychological Explanation (2022)


Javier Gomez-Lavin (Author)
Justin Humphreys (Author)

Medicina nei Secoli - Arte e Scienza
Volume: 34
Issue: 2
Pages: 13-38
Publication date: 2022
Language: English

This paper examines a parallel between Aristotle’s account of phantasia and contemporary psychological models of working memory, a capacity that enables the temporary maintenance and manipulation of information used in many behaviors. These two capacities, though developed within two distinct scientific paradigms, share a common strategy of psychological explanation, Aristotelian Faculty Psychology. This strategy individuates psychological components by their target-domains and functional roles. Working memory and phantasia result from an attempt to individuate the psychological components responsible for flexible thought and are thus implicated in most of our robust cognitive processes, from reading comprehension to problem solving. We then present two novel objections which suggest that these capacities cannot explain our ability to engage in flexible thought. To escape the resultant impasse, we survey alternatives and argue that most promising strategies depend on identifying the behaviors attributed to intelligent thought and action.

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Authors & Contributors
Sirgiovanni, Elisabetta
Bakker, Paul J. J. M.
Boden, Margaret A.
Falcon, Andrea
Ghassemzadeh, Habibollah
Hacking, Ian
Medicina nei Secoli - Arte e Scienza
Journal of the History of the Neurosciences
Bruniana & Campanelliana: Ricerche Filosofiche e Materiali Storico-testuali
History of the Human Sciences
Science and Education
Clarendon Press
Psychology Press
University of Chicago Press
Cognitive psychology
Philosophy of science
Descartes, René
Bacon, Francis, 1st Baron Verulam
Bruno, Giordano
Bunge, Mario
Buridan, Jean
Time Periods
19th century
20th century
20th century, early
17th century
21st century
Paris (France)
United States

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