A reply to professor Abelson

Philosophical Studies 24 (2):133 - 135 (1973)
Abelson claims that the human mind has at least one capacity that is inconsistent with the mental state-Brain state identity thesis - namely the capacity to think of any natural number, No matter how large. His point is that each thought would have to be represented by a distinct mental state, Whereas there are only a finite number of possible states of the brain. In the present article, Issue is taken with the claim that we can think of any number. It is pointed out that progressively larger numbers can only be conceived with the aid of progressively more sophisticated notations - involving mathematical functions which themselves might ultimately become unmanageable. The finitude of brain states is, In any case, Consistent with an infinity of distinct brain processes. If thoughts of numbers were to consist in successions of brain states, Only our mortality would prevent our thinking of indefinitely large numbers
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DOI 10.1007/BF00367005
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