Skip navigation

Representation and Mind series

Consciousness, Concepts, and Higher-Order Thoughts

Consciousness is arguably the most important area within contemporary philosophy of mind and perhaps the most puzzling aspect of the world. Despite an explosion of research from philosophers, psychologists, and scientists, attempts to explain consciousness in neurophysiological, or even cognitive, terms are often met with great resistance.

In Mental Reality, Galen Strawson argues that much contemporary philosophy of mind gives undue primacy of place to publicly observable phenomena, nonmental phenomena, and behavioral phenomena (understood as publicly observable phenomena) in its account of the nature of mind. It does so at the expense of the phenomena of conscious experience. Strawson describes an alternative position, "naturalized Cartesianism," which couples the materialist view that mind is entirely natural and wholly physical with a fully realist account of the nature of conscious experience.

Materialism without Phenomenal Concepts

We are material beings in a material world, but we are also beings who have experiences and feelings. How can these subjective states be just a matter of matter? To defend materialism, philosophical materialists have formulated what is sometimes called "the phenomenal-concept strategy," which holds that we possess a range of special concepts for classifying the subjective aspects of our experiences. In Consciousness Revisited, the philosopher Michael Tye, until now a proponent of the the phenomenal-concept strategy, argues that the strategy is mistaken.

Contextual Semantics Meets Minimal Ontology

The authors of Austere Realism describe and defend a provocative ontological-cum-semantic position, asserting that the right ontology is minimal or austere, in that it excludes numerous common-sense posits, and that statements employing such posits are nonetheless true, when truth is understood to be semantic correctness under contextually operative semantic standards. Terence Horgan and Matjaz [hacek over z] Potrc [hacek over c] argue that austere realism emerges naturally from consideration of the deep problems within the naive common-sense approach to truth and ontology.

Metaphysical and Antimetaphysical Perspectives

How does time pass? Does time itself move, or is time’s passage merely an illusion? Analytic philosophers belong, for the most part, to one of two camps on this question: the tensed camp, which defends the reality of time’s passage, conceiving the present as “ontologically privileged” over the past and future; and the tenseless camp, which denies time’s passage and holds that all events, whatever their temporal location, are ontologically equal.

Essays in Honor of Cora Diamond
Edited by Alice Crary

Cora Diamond has played a leading role in the reception and elaboration of Wittgenstein's philosophy. Diamond's contribution to Wittgenstein scholarship is distinguished by her striking and widely discussed suggestions about continuity between Wittgenstein's early and later writings. Her work in ethics, in important respects shaped by her study of Wittgenstein, has been similarly influential.

"Perception is not something that happens to us, or in us," writes Alva Noë. "It is something we do." In Action in Perception, Noë argues that perception and perceptual consciousness depend on capacities for action and thought—that perception is a kind of thoughtful activity. Touch, not vision, should be our model for perception. Perception is not a process in the brain, but a kind of skillful activity of the body as a whole. We enact our perceptual experience.

One philosophical approach to causation sees counterfactual dependence as the key to the explanation of causal facts: for example, events c (the cause) and e (the effect) both occur, but had c not occurred, e would not have occurred either. The counterfactual analysis of causation became a focus of philosophical debate after the 1973 publication of the late David Lewis's groundbreaking paper, "Causation," which argues against the previously accepted "regularity" analysis and in favor of what he called the "promising alternative" of the counterfactual analysis.

In this important book, Drew Khlentzos explains the antirealist argument from a realist perspective. He defends naturalistic realism against the antirealist challenge, and he considers the consequences of his defense for our understanding of realism and truth. Khlentzos argues that the naturalistic realist view that the world exists independently of the mind must take into consideration what he calls the representation problem: if the naturalistic realist view is true, how can mental representation of the world be explained?

Unity and Identity

In Consciousness and Persons: Unity and Identity, Michael Tye takes on the thorny issue of the unity of consciousness and answers these important questions: What exactly is the unity of consciousness? Can a single person have a divided consciousness? What is a single person? Tye argues that unity is a fundamental part of human consciousness—something so basic to everyday experience that it is easy to overlook.

Concepts and Their Perceptual Basis

Western philosophy has long been divided between empiricists, who argue that human understanding has its basis in experience, and rationalists, who argue that reason is the source of knowledge. A central issue in the debate is the nature of concepts, the internal representations we use to think about the world. The traditional empiricist thesis that concepts are built up from sensory input has fallen out of favor. Mainstream cognitive science tends to echo the rationalist tradition, with its emphasis on innateness.

The Scope and Limits of Computational Psychology

In this engaging book, Jerry Fodor argues against the widely held view that mental processes are largely computations, that the architecture of cognition is massively modular, and that the explanation of our innate mental structure is basically Darwinian. Although Fodor has praised the computational theory of mind as the best theory of cognition that we have got, he considers it to be only a fragment of the truth. In fact, he claims, cognitive scientists do not really know much yet about how the mind works (the book's title refers to Steve Pinker's How the Mind Works).

An Essay on Metarepresentation

Among the entities that can be mentally or linguistically represented are mental and linguistic representations themselves. That is, we can think and talk about speech and thought. This phenomenon is known as metarepresentation. An example is "Authors believe that people read books."

Experiences and feelings are inherently conscious states. There is something it is like to feel pain, to have an itch, to experience bright red. Philosophers call this sort of consciousness "phenomenal consciousness." Even though phenomenal consciousness seems to be a relatively primitive matter, something more widespread in nature than higher-order or reflective consciousness, it is deeply puzzling.

Michael Tye untangles the complex web of empirical and conceptual issues of the newly revived imagery debate in psychology between those that liken mental images to pictures and those that liken them to linguistic descriptions.

In this book José Luis Bermúdez addresses two fundamental problems in the philosophy and psychology of self-consciousness: (1) Can we provide a noncircular account of full-fledged self-conscious thought and language in terms of more fundamental capacities? (2) Can we explain how full-fledged self-conscious thought and language can arise in the normal course of human development? Bermúdez argues that a paradox (the paradox of self-consciousness) arises from the apparent strict interdependence between self-conscious thought and linguistic self-reference.

Polemical Essays on Cognitive Science and the Philosophy of Mind

In this book Jerry Fodor contrasts his views about the mind with those of a number of well-known philosophers and cognitive scientists, including John McDowell, Christopher Peacocke, Paul Churchland, Daniel Dennett, Paul Smolensky, and Richard Dawkins. Several of these essays are published here for the first time. The rest originated as book reviews in the Times Literary Supplement, the London Review of Books, or in journals of philosophy or psychology. The topics examined include cognitive architecture, the nature of concepts, and the status of Darwinism in psychology.

Essays on Designing Minds

In Realistic Rationalism, Jerrold Katz develops a new philosophical position integrating realism and rationalism. Realism here means that the objects of study in mathematics and other formal sciences are abstract; rationalism means that our knowledge of them is not empirical. Katz uses this position to meet the principal challenges to realism.

A Representational Theory of the Phenomenal Mind

Can neurophysiology ever reveal to us what it is like to smell a skunk or to experience pain? In what does the feeling of happiness consist? How is it that changes in the white and gray matter composing our brains generate subjective sensations and feelings? These are several of the questions that Michael Tye addresses, while formulating a new and enlightening theory about the phenomenal "what it feels like" aspect of consciousness. The test of any such theory, according to Tye, lies in how well it handles ten critical problems of consciousness.

Realism, Anti-Realism, and Irrealism

Starmaking brings together a cluster of work published over the past 35 years by Nelson Goodman and two Harvard colleagues, Hilary Putnam and Israel Scheffler, on the conceptual connections between monism and pluralism, absolutism and relativism, and idealism and different notions of realism - issues that are central to metaphysics and epistemology.

Philosophers from Hume, Kant, and Wittgenstein to the recent realists and antirealists have sought to answer the question, What are concepts? This book provides a detailed, systematic, and accessible introduction to an original philosophical theory of concepts that Christopher Peacocke has developed in recent years to explain facts about the nature of thought, including its systematic character, its relations to truth and reference, and its normative dimension.

Humans were thought to be unique among the species in having minds, but recent results showing the richness and diversity in animal psychology makes this view untenable. Yet there remains the question of whether we can map the features of a particularly human psychology that are responsible for its overall structure. In this book John Campbell shows that the general structural features of human thought can be seen as having their source in the distinctive ways in which we think about space and time.

Wittgenstein, Philosophy, and the Mind

The realistic spirit, a nonmetaphysical approach to philosophical thought concerned with the character of philosophy itself, informs all of the discussions in these important essays by philosopher Cora Diamond. Diamond explains Wittgenstein's notoriously elusive later writings, including his criticism of the Tractatus, explores the background to his thought in the work of Frege, and discusses ethics in a way that reflects his influence.

  • Page 1 of 2