Mental content and external representations: Internalism, anti-internalism

Philosophical Quarterly 47 (187):159-77 (1997)
According to ‘internalism’, what mental states people are in depends wholly on what obtains inside their heads. This paper challenges that view without relying on arguments about the identity‐conditions of concepts that make up the content of mental states. Instead, it questions the internalist’s underlying assumption that, in Searle’s words, “the brain is all we have for the purpose of representing the world to ourselves”, which neglects the fact that human beings have used their brains to devise methods for extending and enhancing the brain’s own functions, in particular for storing information externally. Although Popper draws attention to this fact, he fails to grasp its psychological implications, concluding instead that there can be knowledge “without a knowing subject”, and so repeating the internalist’s mistake. With equal justice one can conclude, absurdly, that there are ownerless plans, resolutions and shopping‐lists. The paper goes on to meet possible internalist counter‐arguments
Keywords Content  Epistemology  External  Mental  Representation
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/1467-9213.00053
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,658
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Tyler Burge (1979). Individualism and the Mental. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 4 (1):73-122.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

45 ( #75,110 of 1,725,935 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

7 ( #92,620 of 1,725,935 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.