David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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The Way of Ideas died an ignoble death, committed to the flames by behaviorist empiricists. Ideas, pictures in the head, perished with the Way. By the time those empiricists were supplanted at the helm by functionalists and causal theorists, a revolution had taken place in linguistics and the last thing anyone wanted to do was revive images as the medium of thought. Currently, some but not all cognitive scientists think that there probably are mental images - experiments in cognitive psychology (e.g. Shepard and Metzler 1971) have shown it to be plausible to posit mental images. Even so, the phenomenon of mental imagery has been largely regarded as peripheral in cognition, perhaps even epiphenomenal. Images cannot fix the content of thought (intentions, rules), the Wittgenstein story went. The central processes of thought, so the post-Wittgenstein story goes, require a propositional representation system, a language of thought, universal and modeled on the machine languages of computers. The language of thought is compositional, productive, and, leading advocates argue, has a causal semantics. Images lack all of these essential qualities and so are hopeless as key players in thinking.
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