In this highly original monograph, Nicholas Georgalis proposes that the concept of minimal content is fundamental both to the philosophy of mind and to the philosophy of language. He argues that to understand mind and language requires minimal content -- a narrow, first-person, non-phenomenal concept that represents the subject of an agent's intentional state as the agent conceives it. Orthodox third-person objective methodology must be supplemented with first-person subjective methodology. Georgalis demonstrates limitations of a strictly third-person methodology in the study (...) of mind and language and argues that these deficiencies can be corrected only by the incorporation of a first-person methodology. Nevertheless, this expanded methodology makes possible an objective understanding of the subjective. Georgalis argues against the conflation of consciousness and subjectivity with phenomenal experience. Consequently, and contrary to common belief, he argues that consciousness without phenomenality is as strongly implicated in intentionality as it is in phenomenal states. He proposes a broader understanding of the "hard problem" of consciousness, arguing that there is an "explanatory gap problem" for both phenomenal and intentional states. His theory provides a framework that renders the vexing relations between mental and brain states comprehensible. Georgalis also argues for novel explanations of the phenomenal and of representation -- explanations that follow from the core concept of minimal content. Treating the topics of meaning and reference, he introduces a first-person concept of intended reference derivative from minimal content that resolves various problems in the philosophy of language. Eschewing ontology, Georgalis proposes his theory as a means to make sense of, analyze, and relate issues in the philosophies of mind and language. The concept of minimal content, he argues, plays a necessary, pivotal, unifying, and foundational role in advancing our understanding of these issues. (shrink)
This paper argues against the claim that Frege is committed to an infinite hierarchy of senses. Carnap and Kripke, along with many others, argue the contrary; I expose where all such arguments go astray. Invariably these arguments assume (without citation) that Frege holds that sense and reference are always distinct. This is the fulcrum upon which the hierarchy is hoisted. The counter to this assumption is based on two important but neglected passages. The locution ‘indirect sense’ has no ontological significance (...) for Frege. It was just a ‘short expression’ (his term) to indicate that the customary relation between sign, sense, and reference is suspended in what he called the exception case of indirect context. Once the hierarchy is abandoned, the alleged problem of just what indirect sense is, as well as questions as to why Frege said so little about it and why he did not examine iterative indirect contexts are resolved. Of course, with no hierarchy, Davidson’s “unlearnability argument” turns out to be a non-starter. Some objections to my interpretation are considered and answered. Additionally, comparisons to Dummett’s one-level view of sense, which is similar to mine are made, as well as to some two-level views (Parsons and Skiba). (shrink)
In this monograph Nicholas Georgalis further develops his important work on minimal content, recasting and providing novel solutions to several of the fundamental problems faced by philosophers of language. His theory defends and explicates the importance of ‘thought-tokens’ and minimal content and their many-to-one relation to linguistic meaning, challenging both ‘externalist’ accounts of thought and the solutions to philosophical problems of language they inspire. The concepts of idiolect, use, and statement made are critically discussed, and a classification of kinds of (...) utterances is developed to facilitate the latter. This is an important text for those interested in current theories and debates on philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and their points of intersection. (shrink)
This paper argues that there is no such thing as ?phenomenal intentionality?. The arguments used by its advocates rely upon an appeal to ?what it is like? (WIL) to attend on some occasion to one?s intentional state. I argue that there is an important asymmetry in the application of the WIL phenomenon to sensory and intentional states. Advocates of ?phenomenal intentionality? fail to recognize this, but this asymmetry undermines their arguments for phenomenal intentionality. The broader issue driving the advocacy of (...) phenomenal intentionality is the belief that consciousness must somehow be implicated in intentionality. With this I agree. But because of the asymmetry of application of WIL, the path chosen by advocates of phenomenal intentionality to secure this conclusion cannot succeed. A brief overview of recent philosophy of mind explains the temptation to take this wrong path. Fortunately, there are other routes that implicate consciousness in intentionality. In consequence, though there is no phenomenal intentionality, there is a phenomenology of intentionality. (shrink)
The orthodox view in the study of representation is that a strictly third-person objective methodology must be employed. The acceptance of this methodology is shown to be a fundamental and debilitating error. Toward this end I defend what I call.
I present Searle’s theory of intentionality and defend it against some objections. I then significantly extend his theory by exposing and incorporating an ambiguity in the question as to what an intentional state is about as between a subjective and an objective reading of the question. Searle implicitly relies on this ambiguity while applying his theory to a solution to the problem of substitution in propositional attitudes, but his failure to explicitly accommodate the ambiguity undermines his solution. My extension of (...) his theory succeeds. I also indicate how the new theory can be deployed to resolve other outstanding problems. (shrink)
A new theory of thought is introduced based on a distinction between thought-tokens and thoughts; thought-tokens map many-one to the sentences that express them. What an agent is thinking on a given occasion constitutes her thought-token. Thought-tokens are given expression via a sentence uttered in a public language. Such sentences have determinate standard contents but the thought-tokens they express frequently do not. Moreover, the contents of thought-tokens of various agents may differ significantly, yet our common linguistic practices of thought attribution (...) warrant the use of the same sentence to express them. Consequently, there is a many-one relation between subjective thought-tokens and public sentences which express them. Agents “having the same thought” amounts to no more than that the same sentence may be used to express thought-tokens with different content. We have thought-tokens; we do not have thoughts. The expression ‘thought’ is a useful facon de parler. The implementation of this new theory allows for novel solutions to several problems. I sketch one such application here (several others in my 2015). (shrink)
Three problems are raised for Nicholas Georgalis’s recent work: (1) a problem with regard to the supposed noninferential knowledge of minimal content, (2) a problem with the “necessary condition” Georgalis stipulates for the legitimate application of a first-person methodology to a science of the mind, and (3) a problem with regard to denying phenomenal content to intentional acts.
It is argued that results from first-person methodologies are unacceptable for incorporation into a fundamental philosophical theory of the mind unless they satisfy a necessary condition, which I introduce and defend. I also describe a narrow, nonphenomenal, first-person concept that I call minimal content that satisfies this condition. Minimal content is irreducible to third-person concepts, but it is required for an adequate account of intentionality, representation, and language. Consequently, consciousness is implicated in these as strongly—but differently—than it is in our (...) phenomenal states. Minimal content provides a foundation for an objective philosophical theory of the mind and language. (Some support for these claims is given here. They are extensively argued for in my The Primacy of the Subjective.). (shrink)
Willard Quine has recently defended his brand of scientific realism and naturalism (1992). He has expanded his defense (1993, 1996), utilizing observation sentences in their holophrastic guise. He also argues that the latter bear “... significantly on the epistemology of ontology” and provide for the commensurability of theories. I argue that they fail in all these tasks. Further, Quine’s long‐standing commitment to a kind of scientific realism, on the one hand, and his frequent employment of proxy functions and the rejection (...) of transcendental metaphysics, on the other, constitute an untenable position. A consistent Quinean must abandon scientific realism and ontology. (shrink)