Representation

Edited by Zoe Drayson (University of California, Davis)
About this topic
Summary In representation, one thing stands in for, designates, or is about something else. The relation between the mind and the world has long been characterised as representational: Aristotle, the Scholastics, Descartes, and Locke held some form of representational theory of mind, and Brentano’s concept of intentionality is often understood in representational terms. Contemporary naturalistic philosophy of mind has focused on explaining how the semantic property of representing something can play a causal role in producing behaviour. This project was aided by the development of computational theory in the twentieth century, which showed how physically-implemented states could participate in causal processes preserving the semantic interpretation of those states. These ‘vehicles’ of representation are the theoretical posits of cognitive science. Key debates concern what sorts of things can be representations (e.g. symbols, activation patterns), the format in which representations bear their contents (e.g. linguistically, pictorially), and the legitimacy of representation-talk beyond the realm of traditional mental states.
Key works The first attempt at a theory of representation is probably Peirce’s theory of signs (Peirce 1940). Contemporary approaches to representation such as Fodor 1975, Millikan 1984, and Dretske 1988 tend to incorporate both an account of representation and a theory of how representations acquire their contents. Not all theories of representation aim to underwrite the propositional attitudes of folk-psychology: Cummins 1989 focuses on representation as an explanatory posit in computational cognitive science; similar approaches are the subject of a dialogue between Daniel Dennett, Andy Clark and others in Clapin 2002. Haugeland 1998 looks at the distinctions between several ‘representational genera’ such as iconic versus linguistic, discrete versus distributed. Egan 1995 explores the relation between representation, computation, and cognition, and Ramsey 2007 questions the role of representation in current theories of cognition.
Introductions Crane 2003 is an accessible introduction to mental representation. Stich & Warfield 1994 is a collection of articles on the topic including the introductory essay Stich 1992. Pitt 2008 is an encyclopedia entry on mental representation, and Ryder 2009 is an overview of representation in the philosophy of psychology.
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  1. Understanding Meta-Emotions: Prospects for a Perceptualist Account.Jonathan Mitchell - 2020 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (4):505-523.
    This article clarifies the nature of meta-emotions, and it surveys the prospects of applying a version of the perceptualist model of emotions to them. It first considers central aspects of their intentionality and phenomenal character. It then applies the perceptualist model to meta-emotions, addressing issues of evaluative content and the normative dimension of meta-emotional experience. Finally, in considering challenges and objections, it assesses the perceptualist model, concluding that its application to meta-emotions is an attractive extension of the theory, insofar as (...)
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  2. Harman on Mental Paint and the Transparency of Experience.Erhan Demircioglu - 2020 - Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu 27 (1):56-81.
    Harman famously argues that a particular class of antifunctionalist arguments from the intrinsic properties of mental states or events (in particular, visual experiences) can be defused by distinguishing “properties of the object of experience from properties of the experience of an object” and by realizing that the latter are not introspectively accessible (or are transparent). More specifically, Harman argues that we are or can be introspectively aware only of the properties of the object of an experience but not the properties (...)
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  3. Words and Representations.Bence Nanay - 1997 - Magyar Filozofiai Szemle 41:805-826.
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  4. Repräsentation, Innerlichkeit Und Normalität.Wolfgang Barz - 2019 - Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie 67 (4):702-13.
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  5. Affective Representation and Affective Attitudes.Jonathan Mitchell - 2019 - Synthese:1-28.
    Many philosophers have understood the representational dimension of affective states along the model of sense-perceptual experiences, even claiming the relevant affective experiences are perceptual experiences. This paper argues affective experiences involve a kind of personal level affective representation disanalogous from the representational character of perceptual experiences. The positive thesis is that affective representation is a non-transparent, non-sensory form of evaluative representation, whereby a felt valenced attitude represents the object of the experience as minimally good or bad, and one experiences that (...)
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  6. Unfollowed Rules and the Normativity of Content.Eric V. Tracy - forthcoming - Analytic Philosophy.
    Foundational theories of mental content seek to identify the conditions under which a mental representation expresses, in the mind of a particular thinker, a particular content. Normativists endorse the following general sort of foundational theory of mental content: A mental representation r expresses concept C for agent S just in case S ought to use r in conformity with some particular pattern of use associated with C. In response to Normativist theories of content, Kathrin Glüer-Pagin and Åsa Wikforss propose a (...)
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  7. Phenomenal Consciousness from the Prospect of Representational Theory of Mind.Seyed Mohammad Hosseini & Kambiz Badee - 2013 - Falsafe 41 (1):85-104.
    One of the most important questions in epistemology is the nonphysical realities, like phenomenal consciousness. The main claim of physicalism is real explanations of events and properties are only physical explanations and representationalists are agree too. Thus these realities can explained by the rule of biases of physical and objective events.On the other hand , phenomenalists maintain that conscious experiences and aspect of subjectivity of phenomenal consciousness are not. In this article I attempt formulated the problem of phenomenal consciousness based (...)
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  8. Review: Truth in Perspective: Recent Issues in Logic, Representation and Ontology. [REVIEW]Daniel Nolan - 2001 - Studia Logica 68 (3):404-407.
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  9. How the Brain Makes Up the Mind: A Heuristic Approach to the Hard Problem of Consciousness.Dan Bruiger - manuscript
    A solution to the “hard problem” requires taking the point of view of the organism and its sub- agents. The organism constructs phenomenality through acts of fiat, much as we create meaning in language, through the use of symbols that are assigned meaning in the context of an embodied evolutionary history. Phenomenality is a virtual representation, made to itself by an executive agent (the conscious self), which is tasked with monitoring the state of the organism and its environment, planning future (...)
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  10. Arguing About Representation.Mark Rowlands - 2017 - Synthese 194 (11):4215-4232.
    The question of whether cognition requires representations has engendered heated discussion during the last two decades. I shall argue that the question is, in all likelihood, a spurious one. There may or may not be a fact of the matter concerning whether a given item qualifies as a representation. However, even if there is, attempts to establish whether cognition requires representation have neither practical nor theoretical utility.
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  11. Problem Reprezentacji W Teoriach Poznania Ucieleśnionego.Natika Newton - 2012 - Avant: Trends in Interdisciplinary Studies 3 (T).
    This paper looks at a central issue with embodiment theories in cognition: the role, if any, they provide for mental representation. Thelen and Smith hold that the concept of representations is either vacuous or misapplied in such systems. Others maintain a place for representations, but are imprecise about their nature and role. It is difficult to understand what those could be if representations are understood in the same sense as that used by computationalists: fixed or long-lasting neural structures that represent (...)
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  12. Review of “Poetic Effects: A Relevance Theory Perspective” by Adrian Pilkington. [REVIEW]Motti Benari - 2004 - Pragmatics and Cognition 12 (1):181-189.
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  13. What is the Representational Theory of Thinking?: A Comment on William G. Lycan.Robert Stalnaker - 1993 - Mind and Language 8 (3):423-430.
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  14. Diagramas e Provas.Abel Lassalle Casanave, Bruno Vaz & Sérgio Schultz - 2009 - Dois Pontos 6 (2).
    A concepção padrão de prova é uma concepção lingüística de prova. No entanto, literatura recente reivindica a legitimidade de provas heterogêneas, isto é, que incorporem recursos visuais ou gráficos. Tal reivindicação implica em um melhor exame da distinção entre representação lingüística e representação gráfica ou visual; concomitantemente, ela também comporta uma análise da dualidade entre discursivo e intuitivo em filosofia da lógica e da matemática. Neste breve artigo examinamos dois exemplos canônicos de provas heterogêneas, salientando, no entanto, seu caráter discursivo. (...)
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  15. Symbols and Icons in Diagrammatic Representation.August Fenk - 1998 - Pragmatics and Cognition 6 (1):301-334.
    The distinction between symbolizing, i.e., representing concepts or propositions, and simulating allows a simple description of representations where symbolizing and simulating coincide, representations realizing simulating and symbolizing functions by separate elements, and representations combining figurai symbols with linguistic symbols, such as logical pictures. These figurai symbols seem to derive their form from spatial metaphors. A more specific assumption was tested in two experiments: the more precise the mapping between logical picture and spatial metaphors in the text, the higher the efficiency (...)
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  16. Speech-Gesture Mismatches: Evidence for One Underlying Representation of Linguistic and Nonlinguistic Information.Justine Cassell, David McNeill & Karl-Erik McCullough - 1999 - Pragmatics and Cognition 7 (1):1-34.
    Adults and children spontaneously produce gestures while they speak, and such gestures appear to support and expand on the information communicated by the verbal channel. Little research, however, has been carried out to examine the role played by gesture in the listener's representation of accumulating information. Do listeners attend to the gestures that accompany narrative speech? In what kinds of relationships between gesture and speech do listeners attend to the gestural channel? If listeners do attend to information received in gesture, (...)
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  17. Review of “Cognition and Representation in Linguistic Theory“ by Antoine Culioli. [REVIEW]T. Bearth - 2001 - Pragmatics and Cognition 9 (1):135-147.
  18. Metarepresentation and Human Capacities.Teresa Bejarano - 2003 - Pragmatics and Cognition 11 (1):93-140.
    Both metarepresentation and cultural learning have an identical origin. The imitation of new and complex motor patterns is a crucial skill not only because it enables cultural transmission but also because its high requisites give rise to the exclusively human mind. The premotor plan at the base of such imitation requires the ability to fictionalize bodily postures, which implies a second line of awareness. Only by means of this second line can the human being deal with situations different from his (...)
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  19. Naturoids: From Representations to Concrete Realizations.Massimo Negrotti - 2004 - Pragmatics and Cognition 12 (1):37-56.
    It is a commonplace to maintain that technology will never be able to reproduce a natural object in full detail. Nevertheless, if one tries to rigorously demonstrate the methodological foundation on which such an assumption is based, one finds a number of interesting problems to clarify. This paper attempts to provide a general framework for the understanding of naturoids, arguing that every naturoid — and the cognitive model upon which it is based — is the result of a reduction in (...)
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  20. Against the Self Images of the Age. Essays on Ideology and Philosophy. [REVIEW]B. P. R. - 1979 - Review of Metaphysics 32 (3):558-560.
    Professor MacIntyre has here collected twenty-three of his essays. They range in topics from discussions of psychoanalysis to the relation between reasons and causes in accounts of human action. Indeed, the very range of such issues is part of the point of the book itself. In part 1 of the book, MacIntyre has collected some of the articles he has written over the last fifteen years or so for Encounter, New York Review of Books, and Partisan Review; in part 2, (...)
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  21. Representational Mind: A Study of Kant’s Theory of Knowledge. [REVIEW]A. C. Genova - 1986 - Idealistic Studies 16 (2):164-166.
    Do Anglo-American Kant scholars typically relegate Kant’s claims about sensation, intuition, and perception to a provisional or precritical status and focus instead on the Transcendental Deduction, the second edition Refutation of Idealism, and the Analogies of Experience? Are the issues that concern these recent interpreters more appropriate to contemporary problems of meaning and reference in semantics rather than to what was of central concern to Kant? Are such approaches basically one-sided and anachronistic unless supplemented by a phenomenologically oriented interpretation? To (...)
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  22. Reconstructing Reason and Representation. [REVIEW]Robert Hudson - 2007 - Dialogue 46 (2):383-385.
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  23. Les Représentations Sociales: Perspectives Dialectiques.Guy Rocher - 2002 - Social Science Information 41 (1):83-99.
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  24. Mental Representations and the Dynamic Theory of Mind.Cristinel Ungureanu - 2012 - Logos and Episteme 3 (3):489-502.
    In this paper I will investigate the possibility of defending the concept of ‘mental representation’ against certain contemporary critiques. Some authors, likeAnthony Chemero, argue that it is possible to explain offline actions with dynamic concepts. Hence, the dynamic discourse preempts the representational one. I doubt that this is a recommendable strategy. A form of representation is necessary, though one which is different from the classical one. Instead of eliminating the concept of representation or of splitting cognitive explanation in two separate (...)
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  25. Active Viewership and Ethical Representation: Responsible Spectatorship in Alfredo Jaar’s “Real Pictures” and Gil Courtemanche’s Un Dimanche À la Piscine À Kigali.Angela Ritter - 2016 - Journal of French and Francophone Philosophy 24 (1):205-223.
    In its discussion of Gil Courtemanche’s Un dimanche à la piscine à Kigali and Alfredo Jaar’s installation of “Real Pictures,” both of which are representations of the Rwandan Genocide, this analysis contributes to a larger discussion on ethical representations of violence. Generally the discussion of the ethics of representation analyzes the ways in which the author or artist portrays the violent events. It focuses on the importance of the historical and political context when describing the events, as well as on (...)
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  26. Liberal Representationalism: A Deflationist Defense.Marc Artiga - 2016 - Dialectica 70 (3):407-430.
    The idea that only complex brains can possess genuine representations is an important element in mainstream philosophical thinking. An alternative view, which I label ‘liberal representationalism’, holds that we should accept the existence of many more full-blown representations, from activity in retinal ganglion cells to the neural states produced by innate releasing mechanisms in cognitively unsophisticated organisms. A promising way of supporting liberal representationalism is to show it to be a consequence of our best naturalistic theories of representation. However, several (...)
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  27. Representation and Explanation.Jennifer Wang - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93 (2):462-468.
  28. Review of Cummins' Representations, Targets, and Attitudes. [REVIEW]Frances Egan - 1998 - Philosophical Review 107 (1):118.
    “Naturalistic” semantic theories attempt to specify, in nonintentional and nonsemantic terms, a sufficient condition for a mental representation’s having a particular meaning. Such theories have trouble accounting for the possibility of representational error. In his latest book, Robert Cummins traces the problem to the fact that the theories currently on offer identify the meaning of a representation with certain features of its use. Only a theory that takes meaning to be an intrinsic feature of a representation, Cummins argues, can both (...)
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  29. Aboutness: Towards Foundations for the Information Artifact Ontology.Werner Ceusters & Barry Smith - 2015 - In Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Biomedical Ontology (ICBO). CEUR vol. 1515. pp. 1-5.
    The Information Artifact Ontology (IAO) was created to serve as a domain‐neutral resource for the representation of types of information content entities (ICEs) such as documents, data‐bases, and digital im‐ages. We identify a series of problems with the current version of the IAO and suggest solutions designed to advance our understanding of the relations between ICEs and associated cognitive representations in the minds of human subjects. This requires embedding IAO in a larger framework of ontologies, including most importantly the Mental (...)
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  30. [Recensão a] GUHA, Amal, Compréhension de Textes Et Représentation de la Causalité. La Représentation des Relations Causales Dans le Cadre D´Une Sémantique Référentialiste En Psychologie Cognitive.Amândio Coxito - 2013 - Revista Filosófica de Coimbra 22 (43):295-301.
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  31. Hyacinth: Regarding Dominic.James McGonigal - 1996 - New Blackfriars 77 (906):357-357.
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  32. St. Dominic and the Rosary.Stanislaus M. Hogan - 1939 - New Blackfriars 20 (233):580-592.
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  33. Representation.Bernard Kelly - 1937 - New Blackfriars 18 (205):245-247.
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  34. St. Dominic.Hilary Pepler - 1930 - New Blackfriars 11 (125):461-470.
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  35. St. Dominic.John O'Connor - 1929 - New Blackfriars 10 (113):1259-1261.
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  36. A Distributed Representation of Internal Time.Marc W. Howard, Karthik H. Shankar, William R. Aue & Amy H. Criss - 2015 - Psychological Review 122 (1):24-53.
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  37. Mesure de la Clart? De Quelques Representations Sensorielles.J. M. Trout - 1897 - Psychological Review 4 (3):332-335.
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  38. Convolution and Modal Representations in Thagard and Stewart’s Neural Theory of Creativity: A Critical Analysis.Jean-Frédéric de Pasquale & Pierre Poirier - 2016 - Synthese 193 (5):1535-1560.
    According to Thagard and Stewart :1–33, 2011), creativity results from the combination of neural representations, and combination results from convolution, an operation on vectors defined in the holographic reduced representation framework. They use these ideas to understand creativity as it occurs in many domains, and in particular in science. We argue that, because of its algebraic properties, convolution alone is ill-suited to the role proposed by Thagard and Stewart. The semantic pointer concept allows us to see how we can apply (...)
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  39. Semiotic Symbols and the Missing Theory of Thinking.Robert Clowes - 2007 - Interaction Studies: Social Behaviour and Communication in Biological and Artificial Systems 8 (1):105-124.
  40. Varieties of Representation.Javier Kalhat - 2016 - Philosophy 91 (1):15-37.
    The concept of representation has a vast and highly diverse extension. In this paper I distinguish four kinds of representation, viz. proxy, make-believe, and intentional representation, as well as representation simpliciter. The bulk of the paper is devoted to intentional representation. I argue that the relation of intentional representation is non-reflexive, non-symmetrical, and non-transitive. I articulate a fundamental distinction between two aspects of the content of intentional representations, viz. subject and predicative content. Finally, I qualify and defend the distinction between (...)
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  41. Meaning Without Representation: Essays on Truth, Expression, Normativity, and Naturalism.Steven Gross, Nicholas Tebben & Michael Williams (eds.) - 2015 - Oxford University Press.
    Much contemporary thinking about language is animated by the idea that the core function of language is to represent how the world is and that therefore the notion of representation should play a fundamental explanatory role in any explanation of language and language use. The chapters in this volume explore various ways this idea may be challenged as well as obstacles to developing various forms of anti- representationalism. Particular attention is given to deflationary accounts of truth, the role of language (...)
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  42. On Representation.Catherine Porter (ed.) - 2002 - Stanford University Press.
    At his death in 1992, the eminent philosopher, critic, and theorist Louis Marin left, in addition to a dozen influential books, a corpus of some three hundred articles and essays published in journals and anthologies. A collection of twenty-two essays that appeared between 1971 and 1992, this book interrogates the theory and practice of representation as it is carried out by both linguistic and graphic signs, and thus the complex relation between language and image, between perception and conception. The essays (...)
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  43. Representation Reconsidered.William M. Ramsey - 2007 - Cambridge University Press.
    Cognitive representation is the single most important explanatory notion in the sciences of the mind and has served as the cornerstone for the so-called 'cognitive revolution'. This book critically examines the ways in which philosophers and cognitive scientists appeal to representations in their theories, and argues that there is considerable confusion about the nature of representational states. This has led to an excessive over-application of the notion - especially in many of the fresher theories in computational neuroscience. Representation Reconsidered shows (...)
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  44. Representation in Digital Systems.Vincent C. Müller - 2008 - In Adam Briggle, Katinka Waelbers & Brey Philip (eds.), Current Issues in Computing and Philosophy. IOS Press. pp. 116-121.
    Cognition is commonly taken to be computational manipulation of representations. These representations are assumed to be digital, but it is not usually specified what that means and what relevance it has for the theory. I propose a specification for being a digital state in a digital system, especially a digital computational system. The specification shows that identification of digital states requires functional directedness, either for someone or for the system of which it is a part. In the case or digital (...)
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  45. Philosophy of Mental Representation.Hugh Clapin (ed.) - 2002 - Oxford University Press UK.
    Five leading figures in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science debate the central topic of mental representation. Each author's contribution is specially written for this volume, and then collectively discussed by the others. The editor frames the discussions and provides a way into the debates for new readers. An exciting feature of this collection is the transcribed discussion among all the contributors following each exchange. This is the latest thinking on mental representation carefully and critically analysed by the leading (...)
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  46. Meaning and Mental Representations.Umberto Eco, Marco Santambrogio & Patrizia Violi (eds.) - 1988 - Indiana University Press.
    "... an excellent collection... " —Journal of Language & Social Psychology An important collection of original essays by well-known scholars debating the questions of logical versus psychologically-based interpretations of language.
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  47. Using Proper Names as Intermediaries Between Labelled Entity Representations.Hans Kamp - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (2):263-312.
    This paper studies the uses of proper names within a communication-theoretic setting, looking at both the conditions that govern the use of a name by a speaker and those involved in the correct interpretation of the name by her audience. The setting in which these conditions are investigated is provided by an extension of Discourse Representation Theory, MSDRT, in which mental states are represented as combinations of propositional attitudes and entity representations . The first half of the paper presents the (...)
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  48. Representation and Distortion: On the Construction of Rationality and Irrationality in Early Modern Modes of Representation.Dieter Mersch - 2008 - In Jan Lazardzig, Ludger Schwarte & Helmar Schramm (eds.), Theatrum Scientiarum - English Edition, Volume 2, Instruments in Art and Science: On the Architectonics of Cultural Boundaries in the 17th Century. De Gruyter. pp. 20-37.
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  49. Selfhood as Self Representation.Kenneth Taylor - manuscript
    This essay In this essay develops and defends the view that a “self “ is nothing but a creature that bears the property of selfhood, where bearing selfhood is, in turn, nothing but having the capacity to deploy self-representations. Self-representations, it is argued, are very special things. They are distinguished from other sorts of representations,not by what they represent – mysterious inner entities called selves, say -- but by how they represent what they represent. A self-representation represents nothing but a (...)
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  50. Theories of Representation.James Kinch - 1994
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