Benny Shanon's research while affiliated with Hebrew University of Jerusalem and other places

Publications (73)

Article
In this chapter, I examine instances of special significance in people's experience with ayahuasca. Specifically, I consider instances in which psychological insights are gained and personal transformation and/or healing take place. The analysis provides a structural typology of facets of the ayahuasca experience based on empirical data gathered in...
Article
This chapter examines the musical facets of the special state of mind induced by ayahuasca, a powerful Amazonian psychoactive brew especially famous for the vivid hallucinations that it induces. The chapter is divided into three parts. The first presents background information concerning ayahuasca and its scientific study, and discusses the use of...
Article
In this paper, I discuss substance-induced visions and consider their epistemic status, meaning, and modes of proper interpretation. I focus on the visions induced by ayahuasca, a powerful psychoactive plant-made brew that has had a central status and role in the indigenous tribal cultures of the upper Amazonian region. The brew is especially famou...
Article
The mind-body problem concerns the relationship between mind and body, or nowadays – between mind or consciousness and the brain. As a relationship, this can be viewed from two perspectives: from body to mind and from mind to body. In this note I point out that the two readings of the problem are not symmetrical and that there are categorical diffe...
Article
This note presents a typology of reasons for involving the notion of God in theoretical discussions of human consciousness. These reasons have to do with points of connection, commonality, analogy and affinity between the notions of God and of consciousness, with phenomenological patterns manifested in human conscious experience (in particular, one...
Article
A speculative hypothesis is presented according to which the ancient Israelite religion was associated with the use of entheogens (mind-altering plants used in sacramental contexts). The hypothesis is based on a new look at texts of the Old Testament pertaining to the life of Moses. The ideas entertained here were primarily based on the fact that i...
Article
A new phenomenological framework for the characterization of human consciousness is presented. The theory is introduced in several stages - making distinctions concerning types of consciousness, levels, parameters, functional features and dynamic operations. The phenomenology encompasses both ordinary and non-ordinary states of mind. It appears tha...
Article
Full-text available
Este artigo examina os conteúdos das alucinações visuais induzidas pela infusão psicotrópica ayahuasca. Ele faz parte de uma investigação fenomenológica mais ampla que busca estudar a ayahuasca de uma perspectiva psicológico-cognitiva. (Até agora, quase todos os estudos da ayahuasca partiram das ciências naturais ou da antropologia.) Análises compa...
Article
This paper is part of a comprehensive research project whose aim is to study the phenomenology of the special state of mind induced by the psychoactive Amazonian potion ayahuasca. Here, I focus on those aspects of the ayahuasca experience that are related to basic features of the human consciousness. The effects of the potion are discussed in terms...
Article
This paper examines the standard conceptualizations of the notion of hallucination in light of various non-ordinary phenomenological patterns associated with altered states of consciousness induced by psychoactive agents. It is argued that in general, the conceptualizations encountered in the literature do not do justice to the richness and complex...
Article
The article on synaesthesia by Ramachandran and Hubbard (2001; henceforth, R&H) is comprehensive and intellectually stimulating. In this commentary, I would like to present some empirical data not discussed in R&H and to raise some theoretical questions relating to ideas proposed in this article. My comments will be divided into three sections, or...
Article
Perruchet & Vinter (P&V) ground their arguments in a view they call “the mentalistic tradition.” Here I point out that such a view has already been advocated by two old masters of psychological science, William James and James Gibson, as well as by the philosopher Merleau-Ponty. In fact, in the writings of these older thinkers, arguments very simil...
Article
The delightful anthology compiled by Roberts on Psychoactive Sacramentals (henceforth, PS) presents two dozen essays on the use of psychoactive substances as sacraments. The contributions in PS are varied. Their authors include scientists engaged in the study of psychoactive substances and of altered states of consciousness, theologians and student...
Article
This paper is part of an ongoing project devoted to the investigation of the psychotropic brew Ayahuasca from a cognitive-psychological perspective. This perspective contrasts with those of practically all investigations of Ayahuasca which pertain either to the natural sciences-notably botany, pharmacology, brain science and clinical medicine-or to...
Article
In her book (Praetorious, 2000), Praetorious argues against the exclusion of epistemology and ontology by contemporary cognitive psychology. I am fully sympathetic to her view. In this commentary I place the cognitive approach in perspective and present further support for the conclusion advocated by Praetorius.
Article
The spotlight metaphor for the characterization of consciousness is examined. It is argued that, in effect, models based on this metaphor are not explanatory. In crucial respects, the models are not informative and they can account neither for the specific qualities of human consciousness nor for its function. In the spirit of pragmatic analyses in...
Article
Temporality is a fundamental determinant of human cognition. There are, however, states of mind in which people feel that temporality changes radically and perhaps even becomes irrelevant. Here I attempt a typology of the patterns of such non-ordinary temporal experiences. The discussion is based on a phenomenological study of the special state of...
Article
In conformity with the dynamical perspective advocated by van Gelder, a more psychological approach can highlight the intrinsic temporality of human cognition, revealing the inadequacies of representationalism as a framework for the modeling of mind.
Article
In recent publications, Fodor points out a basic impasse that the representational-computational view of mind confronts. Mental representations have to serve two functions—to be the substrate of mental computations and to be the carriers of meaning. Fodor points out that these two functions cannot be brought together and concludes that semantics is...
Article
Koriat & Goldsmith (1996t) present two different programs for memory research. Different though they are on the methodological level, on the substantive level the two programs are based on the same view, according to which memory consists of represented information that is permanently stored in the mind (or brain). This view is, I think, wrong...
Article
This paper proposes an answer to the title question on the basis of the analysis of empirical data -- a large corpus of what I call thought sequences, namely, trains of verbal-like expressions that spontaneously pass through people's minds. The analysis reveals several patterns that could not have occurred had thought not been conducted in a consci...
Article
Fractal structures are noted in natural language. Specifically, it is pointed out that descriptions in language are invariant under scale. In other words, the same terms may be used to describe states of affairs at different levels of resolution. Thus, in themselves, linguistic expressions are not indicative of the level being entertained. The func...
Article
User modeling issues are examined in the context of a user-adapted guidance system. The system provides users with instructions about natural tasks without introducing a special time-consuming sub-dialog to learn the user's knowledge. A model for providing such guidance is developed on the basis of a phenomenological analysis of human guidance, and...
Article
In their critique of connectionist models Fodor and Pylyshyn (1988) dismiss such models as not being cognitive or psychological. Evaluating Fodor and Pylyshyn's critique requires examining what is required in characterizating models as ‘cognitive’. The present discussion examines the various senses of this term. It argues the answer to the title qu...
Article
There is a classical philosophical puzzle regarding the objects of memory. Does one remember past events? But these cannot be in one's head. On the other hand, if we do remember representations that are in our head how can these be said to present past memories? The present discussion proposes to answer this puzzle by regarding memory as a tool. An...
Article
Several types of faulty language selection in polyglots are presented. In these, a speaker utters words in a language other than that he or she intended to use. In all cases, the error in production is not due to a lack of words or a linguistic deficiency. Indeed (with the exception of one curious case), the patterns in question could have been pro...
Article
Responds to a comment by M. M. Lucas (see record 1992-04890-001 ) on B. Shanon (see record 1988-35207-001 ) which argued against the characterization of semantics and semantic processing by means of underlying semantic representations. Following comments by Lucas, this response focuses on 3 issues. First, the notion of context is examined; it is ar...
Article
Argues that T. B. Henley (see record 1990-24420-001) in critiquing the author's (see record 1990-00380-001) views on the "Turing test" accuses him unwarrantedly of chauvinism against computers. Shannon addresses (1) the adequacy of a representational-psychological framework, (2) chauvinism in contemporary cognitive science, and (3) ecological val...
Article
Responds to a comment by M. M. Lucas (see record 1992-04890-001) on B. Shanon (see record 1988-35207-001) which argued against the characterization of semantics and semantic processing by means of underlying semantic representations. Following comments by Lucas, this response focuses on 3 issues. First, the notion of context is examined; it is ar...
Article
Patterns in physics and psychology are often related. This paper examines such relations on two levels. First, a survey is made of the various possible relations between physics and psychology and, secondly, a series of analogies between patterns in modern physics and cognition is presented. The analogies pertain both to the theory of relativity (b...
Article
A survey of different senses of the term ‘representation’ is presented. The presentation is guided by the appraisal that this key term is employed in the cognitive literature in different senses and that the distinction between these is not always explicitly stated or appreciated. Furthermore, the different senses seem to be associated with differe...
Article
A theorem originally proposed as a conjecture by H. von Foerster suggests that the more trivially connected are the elements of a system, the less influence they will have on the system as a whole. Following previous applications of the conjecture in the context of economics, game theory and the theory of automata, applications in the semantic doma...
Article
Why are dreams cinematographic? The examination of this question bears on some fundamental issues regarding both dreams and cognition in general. It is argued that dreams have the flavor of reality because they are actions one performs in the theater of one's mind. As such, dreams are neither representational nor symbolic. The proposed view of drea...
Article
This article focuses on one everyday phenomenon--the knot in the handkerchief serving as a memory aid. It is argued that, while on first glance the case of the knot may seem to be marginal and idiosyncratic, in point of fact, it bears significant similarities to that of standard symbols. Given that the two instances raise similar problems, the two...
Article
Presents alternative psychological frameworks to cognitivism (i.e., the representational-computational view of mind). The plurality of the alternative frameworks is emphasized. These include network models, action models, and models presented in ecological psychology, social cognition, and phenomenology. The frameworks are presented as different va...
Article
Thought sequences are ordered series of verbal-like expressions that pass spontaneously through one's mind and which are characterised by well-demarcated beginnings and ends. The present paper notes the significance of and interest in thought sequences and presents a framework for their analysis. Given the scope of the enterprise, different levels...
Article
Tversky's featural contrast model for similarity judgments is discussed and its featural definition of entities and Boolean characterization of judgments are criticized. Features are themselves identified on the basis of appraisals of similarity and so cannot be defined in an a priori or context-free manner. Tversky's model may assist the discovery...
Article
Jerry Fodor's The Modularity of Mind is discussed. In this book the concept of modularity of cognitive processes is introduced and a picture of mind is proposed according to which the peripheral input systems are modular whereas the central processes are not. The present paper examines this view from both a methodological and a substaintive perspec...
Article
The representational view of mind is examined by focusing on what is perhaps its key tenet, namely, that semantic representations serve as the basis for the knowledge of meaning and for the production and comprehension of linguistic expressions. The argument marshalled against this view is twofold and involves conceptual and methodological, empiric...
Article
A typology of verbal‐like sequences of thought that spontaneously pass through people's minds is proposed. The typology is based on the observation that the expressions of which such sequences are composed differ in epistemic status. These statuses include: thought, memory, enactment, meta‐observation, and control. The different epistemic statuses...
Article
An argument is made that formal abstract mental representations are lacking because they fail to accommodate the contribution of the medium. The importance of the medium is singled out and several respects in which it resists formal characterization noted. Specifically, it is pointed out that the medium can always be relevant, that the aspects by w...
Article
The basic tenets of the theory of conversation developed by Grice and Searle are analyzed and criticized. The analysis of indirect speech acts as derived from direct ones by means of implicatures is argued to be based on a logical petitio petitii. It is suggested that literal meaning need not be the basis for the interpretation of utterances; that...
Article
A corpus of expressions specifying time, length, and price in modern Hebrew was collected. The corpus reveals systematic morphological patterns that are at the same time complex and consistent both within and across informants. Further check revealed that informants are totally unaware of the rules governing these patterns. Indeed, these rules are...
Article
Examines 2 psycholinguistic patterns relating to the expression of numbers in the different languages a person may know and their implications for psychological semantics. The 1st pattern is the mismatch between polyglotism and numerics: Polyglots' execution of numerical tasks often is tied to only 1 language, usually the native language or that in...
Article
Verbal descriptions of rooms were collected and analyzed. The analyses are based on the initial selection of an optimal factorization of rooms and are further conducted on the level of single description units, sequencing of such units, and the global structure of the description. On all levels of analysis, correspondences are noted between the und...
Article
On the basis of an empirical corpus several linguistic patterns of dream reporting are noted. Specifically, observations are made regarding the linguistic structures, the pragmatic patterns and the text structures of dream reports. In particular, it is noted that dream reports define a discourse situation that does not abide by the requirements on...
Article
The present study consists of an empirical test of the psychological reality of the formal room theory proposed by Rumelhart (1974) for the characterization of appropriate answers to where‐questions. This theory defines an answer‐generation algorithm which specifies the level (room) on which an answer is given as a function of the category of the t...
Article
A series of four experiments was conducted on Israelis with a good knowledge of English, Anglo-Saxons with a good knowledge of Hebrew, and full Bilinguals of the two languages. In all experiments words were presented vertically and measurements of both accuracy and response times were taken. Experiments 1 and 2 examined the perception of Hebrew wor...
Article
People were asked whether they had strong colour associates (rather than associations) for different linear orders. Eighteen informants responded that they associated colours with numbers, and ten that they associated colours with the days of the week. The colours associated with both linear orders were consistent between subjects and correlated wi...
Article
American and Israeli bilinguals were presented with Hebrew and English words, as well as with drawings of concrete objects. They were timed as they named and classified these items in either their native or non-native languages. The pattern of response times suggests that following reading, semantic processing is conducted in a language-independent...
Article
Six experiments were conducted in which subjects were asked to classify musical material. It was expected to find a right hemisphere advantage when the task is simple, and a left hemisphere advantage when the task is complex. No lateralization effects or interactions were found in either a random or a blocked presentation.
Article
Dream reports are examined as a function of the real world and dream contents to which they correspond. It is noted that the said correspondence is not a sufficient determinant of the verbal realizations of the dream reports. An account of such reports calls for additional rules which order pragmatic constraints. These rules bear on a conversationa...
Article
Bilingual subjects were presented with pairs of characters drawn from either the English or the Hebrew alphabet. They were asked to indicate whether the two characters belonged to the same alphabet, or whether the two characters denoted the same sound, regardless of whether they belonged to the same alphabet. A model is proposed whereby the two cha...
Article
Three experiments were conducted in which professional musicians were asked to classify musical material under conditions of dichotic listening. The patterns of error rates showed left-hemisphere advantage with complicated tasks. The patterns of reaction times did not exhibit any lateralization effect. The results suggest that musical processing is...
Article
Subjects were timed as they judged whether items presented to them were words or not. In one experiment responses to nouns and verbs were compared, in a second experiment ones to concrete and abstract nouns were compared. In both experiments responses to pronounceable and non-pronounceable non-words were also compared. By and large, no significant...
Article
1260 American subjects were timed as they responded to one of the three questions (‘What day of the week is today?’ (Tod question), ‘What day of the week was yesterday?’ (Y question), and ‘What day of the week will tomorrow be?’ (Tom question)) at one of three times of the day (early morning, mid-day and the late evening). Response times as a funct...
Article
Two experiments examined how people answer questions of the form ‘Have you been to X?’ where X is a city or a country abroad. In the natural experiment subjects were not given any material to memorize, and were timed as they indicated whether they themselves had been to the place in question. In the artificial experiment subjects were given places...
Article
Subjects were timed as they judged whether items presented to them were English words or not. Comparisons were made between responses to nouns and to verbs, on the one hand, and between concrete and abstract nouns, on the other hand. No asymmetries were found.
Article
American and Israeli subjects, right and left handers, males and females, were observed as they drew horizontal character elements, drew lines and faces and performed a simple manual task. The graphological patterns suggest that the writing behaviour of right handers of either culture is determined by biological factors, whereas left handers are in...
Conference Paper
empir-ical data.The Room Theory "posits the existence of a psychologic-al room relative to which distances are reckoned. Theroom corresponds to the smallest geographical regionthat encompasses both the reference location of theconversants and he location of the places in question".When answering where-questions "the rule is to find thesmallest room...
Article
An aphasic patient was presented with a number of classification and identification tasks. The patient did better in classifying alphanumeric characters on various levels of abstraction than in identifying them. In another test the patient classified animals, birds, and flowers. His mistakes were interpreted as a consideration of characteristic fea...
Article
Two hundred and forty subjects, American and Israeli, right and left handers, males and females, were observed as they were writing and their hand and pen positions were noted. Non-standard positions were found in both cultural groups, and in both they were more prevalent with left handers. The magnitude of this effect was greater for Americans tha...
Article
Sentences containing adverbial locutions were presented to either the left or the right ear in a dichotic listening task, and Ss were timed as to how long it took them to judge the sentences as true or false. Responses were faster to sentences presented to the right ear than to the left ear, thus showing a lateralization effect with sentences as st...

Citations

... Leary, 1964;Nichols, 2004;W. N. Pahnke, 1971;Prince & Savage, 1966;Richards, Rhead, DiLeo, Yensen, & Kurkland, 1977;Shanon, 2001;Unger, 1964;Watts, 1968Watts, , 1972. ...
... Psychological effects include changes in spatio-temporal perception, sensorial alterations, synesthesia, increased emotional arousal and emotional lability, increased introspection, reflections, biographical memories, associative thinking, insights, and changes in the sense of "self " (Riba et al., 2001(Riba et al., , 2003. Particularly striking are the visions that occur mainly with closed eyes, which encompass a rich panorama ranging from geometric patterns to supernatural imagery and long conversations with an imagined "other" (Shanon, 2002(Shanon, , 2003. However, as under the effects of other psychedelics, participants may find it difficult to express their experience in words, both during the effects and a posteriori (Preller and Vollenweider, 2016). ...
... Par exemple, le contexte peut aussi modeler le traitement sémantique : il a par exemple été observé que des participants devant définir des mots familiers donnaient des définitions différentes en fonction10 « En général, les créatures évoluées ne vont ni stocker ni traiter de l'information par des processus coûteux lorsqu'elles peuvent utiliser la structure de leur environnement et les opérations qu'elles réalisent dessus en tant que support pratique pour le traitement des opérations concernées. C'est-à-dire, ne sachez que ce que vous avez besoin de savoir pour que le travail soit accompli » [traduction libre] Approches écologiques de la cognition 60 du contexte dans lequel ils se trouvaient (voirBarsalou et al., 1993;Shanon, 1988pour des revues). ...
... spiritual/transcendental experiences, for example, sense of connection with nature, encounters with spirits, death-and-rebirth experiences; iv. emotional experiences, such as feelings of love, sadness, guilt, and happiness; v. corporal experiences, such as shakings, nausea, and vomiting (Apud 2015(Apud , 2019(Apud , 2020Argento, Capler, Thomas, Lucas, & Tupper, 2019;Fericgla, 2000;Fernández & Fábregas, 2014;Kjellgren, Eriksson, & Norlander, 2009;Loizaga-Velder & Loizaga Pazzi, 2014;Loizaga-Velder & Verres, 2014;Shanon, 2014;Trichter, Klimo, & Krippner, 2009;Thomas, Lucas, Capler, Tupper, & Martin, 2013;Wolff, Ruffell, Netzband, & Passie, 2019). ...
... There are other ways of unpacking the main idea here which do not take such a strong stand on the mind's architecture, past or present. To give just one example: Shanon (1998) points out that inner speech enables us to simulate conversations of the sort we might have while collectively trying to problem-solve or make a decision with peers. Put differently, it allows us to adopt multiple perspectives on some content; we first serve as sender and then as receiver. ...
... Веселова 2002: 172). Колективно искуство одређује и меру препознатљивости типа наратива, те је тако за приче о сновима очекивана епизодична структура, успостављање каузално-темпоралних веза, одређена мера занимљивости, али слушаоце неће изненадити ни нелогичност и фрагментарност (Kaivola-Bregenhøj 1993: 216-217; о одликама дискурса снова в. Shanon, Eiferman 1984). За формирање, рецепцију и потенцијалну трансмисију прича о сновима важни су, наглашава већина теоретичара, и унутартекстовни (структура, семантика -усмереност на значења валидна на личном и ширем социјалном нивоу, вредности кодиране културом и традицијом, нпр. ...
... • Generating informative answers -i.e., the answer should complete the inquirers' gap of knowledge in a way that obvious or already-known responses should be avoided and useful and necessary information are included (Shanon, 1983). In the example, obvious, inadequate or undetailed answers such as on Earth or in the UK or over a river are avoided by the responder. ...
... In general, rhythm appears to be the predominant musical feature inducing ASCs (see Fachner, 2006). Baldemair (2003) suggested that techno dancers lose their ordinary sense of space when they experience states of vertigo owing to the music's characteristics (fast tempi, monotonous sounds, unexpected breaks). ...
... In this sense, one reports what (s)he dreamt about and VP denotes a set of situations in which someone had a dream/dreams. Though śnić się 'dream' does not necessarily involve a speech context (for more details on dream reports, see Shanon 1980, Percus & Sauerland 2003or Kauf 2017. Thirdly, in my opinion (14) is ambiguous and has three different readings. ...
... Our results suggest that language study should be addressed from a more naturalistic standpoint, considering its dynamic nature and keeping in mind that it is not only permanently linked to contextual factors, but also constantly related to creation and novelty (Hörmann, 1981(Hörmann, , 1986Shanon, 1988Shanon, , 1990aShanon, , 1990bShanon, , 1991. All of these points at viewing meaning as a contextual construction process tied both to personal and socially constructed dimensions. ...