Intention (Doing Away with Mental Representation)

Jay Garfield
Smith College
Mental representation is a metaphor. It has perhaps become so entrenched that it appears to have been frozen, and it is easy to lose sight of its metaphorical character. Literally, a representation is a re-presentation, a symbol that stands for something else because that thing can’t be with us. I send my parents photos of the grandchildren because e-mail is cheaper than air tickets. I consult a map of Adelaide to find the shortest route to the philosophy department because wandering through the streets would take too much time. Perhaps in a similar sense I use words in this discussion because the very ideas in my head have no way of being transferred directly to yours. It is tempting to think that when you hear them thoughts in your head substitute in further processing for the sounds I produce or for the words they encode. But if I am right in what follows, we should resist this temptation.
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