In Why pains are not mental objects (1998) Guy Douglasrightly argues that pains are modes rather than objects ofperceptions or sensations. In this paper I try to go a stepfurther and argue that there are circumstances when pains canbecome objects even while they remain modes of experience.By analysing cases of extreme pain as presented by Scarry,Sartre, Wiesel, Grahek and Wall, I attempt to show thatintense physical pain may evolve into a force that, likeimagination, can make our most intense state (...) of experiencebecome a mentalobject. I shall finally argue that, thoughextreme pains cannot serve as paradigm cases, they do showthe general importance of taking pain states to be objects. (shrink)
Purpose. Although observers easily extract the global meaning of natural scenes, it is often the case that they do not notice or remember all of their individual properties. It appears that some scene properties are more readily coded in mental representations than others. We tested the role of three different object properties - color, location, and presence/absence - in scene representations.
This paper explores the question whether an adequate account of the facts about imagination and mental imagery must construe mental images as objects. Much of the paper is a study of Alastair Hannay's defense of an affirmative answer in his wide?ranging study, Mental Images ? A Defence. The paper first sets out and evaluates Hannay's case. The second part develops an alternative account of mental images, including non?visual images, which Hannay does not treat in detail. The (...) alternative account is analogous to the adverbial theory of perception; and it is suggested how this account, without construing mental images as objects, might accommodate the data from which Hannay argues for their objecthood. (shrink)
People mentally represent the shapes of objects. For instance, the mental representation of an eagle is different when one thinks about a flying or resting eagle. This study examined the role of shape in mental representations of similes (i.e., metaphoric comparisons). We tested the prediction that when people process a simile they will mentally represent the entities of the comparison as having a similar shape. We conducted two experiments in which participants read sentences that either did (experimental sentences) (...) or did not (control sentences) invite comparing two entities. For the experimental sentences, the ground of the comparison was explicit in Experiment 1 (“X has the ability to Z, just like Y”) and implicit in Experiment 2 (“X is like Y”). After having read the sentence, participants were presented with line drawings of the two objects, which were either similarly or dissimilarly shaped. They judged whether both objects were mentioned in the preceding sentence. For the experimental sentences, recognition latencies were shorter for similarly shaped objects than for dissimilarly shaped objects. For the control sentences, we did not find such an effect of similarity in shape. These findings suggest that a perceptual symbol of shape is activated when processing similes. (shrink)
Do humans start life with the capacity to detect and mentally represent the objects around them? Or is our object knowledge instead derived only as the result of prolonged experience with the external world? Are we simply able to perceive objects by watching their actions in the world, or do we have to act on objects ourselves in order to learn about their behavior? Finally, do we come to know all aspects of objects in the same way, or are (...) some aspects of our object understanding more epistemologically privileged than others? -/- "The Origins of Object Knowledge" presents the most up-to-date survey of the research into how the developing human mind understands the world of objects and their properties. It presents some of the best findings from leading research groups in the field of object representation approached from the perspective of developmental and comparative psychology. Topics covered in the book all address some aspect of what objects are from a psychological perspective; how humans and animals conceive what they are made of; what properties they possess; how we count them and how we categorize them; even how the difference between animate and inanimate objects leads to different expectations. The chapters also cover the variety of methodologies and techniques that must be used to study infants, young children, and non-human primates and the value of combining approaches to discovering what each group knows. -/- Bringing together leading researchers, communicating the most contemporary and exciting findings within the field of object representation, this volume will be an important work in the cognitive sciences, and of interest to those across the fields of developmental and comparative psychology. (shrink)
In recent decades, a view of identity I call Sortalism has gained popularity. According to this view, if a is identical to b, then there is some sortal S such that a is the same S as b. Sortalism has typically been discussed with respect to the identity of objects. I argue that the motivations for Sortalism about object-identity apply equally well to event-identity. But Sortalism about event-identity poses a serious threat to the view that mental events are (...) token identical to physical events: A particular mental event m is identical with a particular physical event p only if there is a sortal S such that m and p are both Ss. If there is no such sortal, the doctrine of token-identity is not true. I argue here that we have no good reason for thinking that there is any such sortal. (shrink)
An instance of retrowareness is a veridical nonperceptual occurrent awareness of something about a particular past event or state of affairs. Accordingly, this occurrence is intentional, or exemplifies the property of intentionality, in the sense that it is as though it were about something in contrast to other equally intentional mental occurrences that only seem to be about something. That a retrowareness has intentionality must be explained in terms of its own content and structure, rather than in terms of (...) its success in being about an actual past state of affairs or event. Such an explanation will help explain (a) how a retrowareness succeeds in being about its intentional object and (b) how mental occurrences lacking an intentional object may possess an intentional character. (shrink)
The project of the paper is a critical examination of the "strong thesis of eliminative materialism" in the philosophy of mind--The claim that all the mental entities that constitute the framework of commonsense psychology are, In principle at least, Eliminable from our ontology. The central conclusion reached is that the traditional formulation of this thesis is demonstrably untenable as it rests on a mistaken view of the relationship between our psychological self-Knowledge and language.
This paper deals with some formal properties of objects that are supposed to be internal to persons, that is, mental structures and mental functions. Depending on the ways of talking about these internal objects, they will appear different. Two types of discourse will be presented, to be called the realist and the nominalist discourses, and for eachdiscourse I will focus upon the construction of `self'.The realist discourse assumes an identity between the person and his construction of himself. I (...) will illustrate this discourse in terms of Descartes' ideas on himself as a `thinking substance'. The nominalist discourse assumes an impossibility to attain this identity, and instead to imply a complementarity between the person and his self-construction. I will illustrate this discourse in terms of the problems both William James and Sartre discerned when a conscious person chases after his own consciousness (termed `judging thought' and `pour-soi' respectively). (shrink)
Two Themes to the Course: a.) How are we to understand the contrast between direct and indirect or immediate and mediate perception? b.) Is there any cogent reason to think we don’t have sense experience of the world around us?
In this study I am going to present and discuss some of the central themes of Gustav Bergmann's theory of perception. I shall be concerned, however, only with "later Bergmann," that is, with the perceptual theory worked out in a series of essays in which Bergmann shifts from phenomenalism to a form of intentional realism. This label ("intentional realism") indicates the two dominant themes in Bergmann's later thought about perception: perceivings are analyzed as mental acts (thoughts) which are intentionally (...) related to real and mind-independent objects and states of affairs. In a timely essay, " Intentionality" (1955) Bergmann presented an impressive defense of mental acts, and although the framework of that essay was still phenomenalistic, the structural analysis of mental acts and their intentionality presented there has not been significantly altered by Bergmann in later writings. In two subsequent essays, "Acts" (1960) and "Realistic Postscript" (1963) his realistic turn was worked out in detail in the context of giving a satisfactory account of ordinary perceptual experience. These three essays will comprise the core texts of the study that follows. (shrink)
The problem of amodal perception is the problem of how we represent features of perceived objects that are occluded or otherwise hidden from us. Bence Nanay (2010) has recently proposed that we amodally perceive an object's occluded features by imaginatively projecting them into the relevant regions of visual egocentric space. In this paper, I argue that amodal perception is not a single, unitary capacity. Drawing appropriate distinctions reveals amodal perception to be characterized not only by mental imagery, as (...) Nanay suggests, but also by genuinely visual representations as well as beliefs. I conclude with some brief remarks on the role of object-directed bodily action in conferring a sense of unseen presence on an object's occluded features. (shrink)
When we see an object, we also represent those parts of it that are not visible. The question is how we represent them: this is the problem of amodal perception. I will consider three possible accounts: (a) we see them, (b) we have non-perceptual beliefs about them and (c) we have immediate perceptual access to them, and point out that all of these views face both empirical and conceptual objections. I suggest and defend a fourth account, according to which (...) we represent the occluded parts of perceived objects by means of mental imagery. This conclusion could be thought of as a (weak) version of the Strawsonian dictum, according to which “imagination is a necessary ingredient of perception itself”. (shrink)
How can mental properties bring about physical effects, as they seem to do, given that the physical realizers of the mental goings-on are already sufficient to cause these effects? This question gives rise to the problem of mental causation (MC) and its associated threats of causal overdetermination, mental causal exclusion, and mental causal irrelevance. Some (e.g., Cynthia and Graham Macdonald, and Stephen Yablo) have suggested that understanding mental-physical realization in terms of the determinable/determinate relation (...) (henceforth, 'determination') provides the key to solving the problem of MC: if mental properties are determinables of their physical realizers, then (since determinables and determinates are distinct, yet don't causally compete) all three threats may be avoided. Not everyone agrees that determination can do this good work, however. Some (e.g., Douglas Ehring, Eric Funkhauser, and Sven Walter) object that mental-physical realization can't be determination, since such realization lacks one or other characteristic feature of determination. I argue that on a proper understanding of the features of determination key to solving the problem of MC these arguments can be resisted. (shrink)
It is becoming increasingly clear that the deepest problems currently exercising philosophers of mind arise from an ill-begotten ontology, in particular, a mistaken ontology of properties. After going through some preliminaries, we identify three doctrines at the heart of this mistaken ontology: (P) For each distinct predicate, “F”, there exists one, and only one, property, F, such that, if “F” is applicable to an object a, then “F” is applicable in virtue of a’s being F. (U) Properties are universals, (...) not particulars. (D) Every property is either categorical or dispositional, but not both. We show how these doctrines influence current philosophical thinking about the mind, suggest and defend an alternative conception of properties, and indicate how this conception provides answers to two puzzles besetting contemporary philosophy of mind: the problem of mental causation and the problem of qualia. (shrink)
What is consciousness? brentano suggests that consciousness is a simple binary relation between a self and an object. in this paper, i offer a textual clarification and a qualified philosophical defense of brentano's suggestion. in part i, i indicate the ordinary facts of subjective experience that any adequate theory of consciousness must account for. in part ii, i argue on textual grounds that brentano's theory has been misunderstood by chisholm. in part iii, i argue that brentano's theory meets the (...) conditions of an adequate theory. (shrink)
The essay analyses the mereological structure of an act of intentional presentation, on the basis of Benussi' and Kanizsa's works. Several aspects are discussed, among which: The existence of diverse formats of representation, their eventual continuity, the presence of subjective integrations at primary levels, and the identification of phrases in the phenomenic structure of an act of presentation. It is argued that the difference between perceptual and mental presence, as elaborated by Kanizsa, proves to be a valid instrument for (...) the categorial analysis of phenomenic appearances. (shrink)
According to the predominant view within contemporary philosophy of psychiatry, mental disorders involve essentially personal and societal values, and thus, the concept of mental disorder cannot, even in principle, be elucidated in a thoroughly objective manner. Several arguments have been adduced in support of this impossibility thesis. My critical examination of two master arguments advanced to this effect by Derek Bolton and Jerome Wakefield, respectively, raises serious doubts about their soundness. Furthermore, I articulate an alternative, thoroughly objective, though (...) in part normative, framework for the elucidation of the concept of mental disorder. The concepts of mental dysfunction and impairment of basic psychological capacities to satisfy one’s basic needs are the building blocks of this framework. I provide an argument for the objective harmfulness of genuine mental disorders as patterns of mental dysfunctions with objectively negative biotic values, as well as a formally correct definition of the concept of mental disorder. Contrary to the received view, this objective framework allows for the possibility of genuine mental disorders due to adverse social conditions, as well as for quasi-universal mental disorders. I conclude that overall, the project of providing an objective account of the concept of mental disorder is far from impossible, and moreover, that it is, at least in principle, feasible. (shrink)
What is a concept? Philosophers have given many different answers to this question, reflecting a wide variety of approaches to the study of mind and language. Nonetheless, at the most general level, there are two dominant frameworks in contemporary philosophy. One proposes that concepts are mental representations, while the other proposes that they are abstract objects. This paper looks at the differences between these two approaches, the prospects for combining them, and the issues that are involved in the dispute. (...) We argue that powerful motivations have been offered in support of both frameworks. This suggests the possibility of combining the two. Unlike Frege, we hold that the resulting position is perfectly coherent and well worth considering. Nonetheless, we argue that it should be rejected along with the view that concepts are abstract objects. (shrink)