Elements of Mind provides a unique introduction to the main problems and debates in contemporary philosophy of mind. Author Tim Crane opposes those currently popular conceptions of the mind that divide mental phenomena into two very different kinds (the intentional and the qualitative) and proposes instead a challenging and unified theory of all the phenomena of mind. In light of this theory, Crane engages students with the central problems of the philosophy of mind--the mind-body problem, the problem of intentionality (or (...) mental representation), the problem of consciousness, and the problem of perception--and attempts to find solutions to these problems. A fresh and engaging exploration of the main issues in the philosophy of mind, Elements of Mind is easily accessible to students with no background in the subject. (shrink)
P.F. Strawson argued that ‘mature sensible experience (in general) presents itself as … an immediate consciousness of the existence of things outside us’ (1979: 97). He began his defence of this very natural idea by asking how someone might typically give a description of their current visual experience, and offered this example of such a description: ‘I see the red light of the setting sun filtering through the black and thickly clustered branches of the elms; I see the dappled deer (...) grazing in groups on the vivid green grass…’ (1979: 97). In other words, in describing experience, we tend to describe the objects of experience – the things which we experience – and the ways they are when we are experiencing them. Some go further. According to Heidegger. (shrink)
‘It is of the very nature of consciousness to be intentional’ said Jean-Paul Sartre, ‘and a consciousness that ceases to be a consciousness of something would ipso facto cease to exist’.1 Sartre here endorses the central doctrine of Husserl’s phenomenology, itself inspired by a famous idea of Brentano’s: that intentionality, the mind’s ‘direction upon its objects’, is what is distinctive of mental phenomena. Brentano’s originality does not lie in pointing out the existence of intentionality, or in inventing the terminology, which (...) derives from scholastic discussions of concepts or intentiones.2 Rather, his originality consists in his claim that the concept of intentionality marks out the subject matter of psychology: the mental. His view was that intentionality ‘is characteristic exclusively of mental phenomena. No physical phenomenon manifests anything like it’.3 This is Brentano’s thesis that intentionality is the mark of the mental. Despite the centrality of the concept of intentionality in contemporary philosophy of mind, and despite the customary homage paid to Brentano as the one who revived the terminology and placed the concept at the centre of philosophy, Brentano’s thesis is widely rejected by contemporary philosophers of mind. What is more, its rejection is not something which is thought to require substantial philosophical argument. Rather, the falsity of the thesis is taken as a starting-point in many contemporary discussions of intentionality, something so obvious that it only needs to be stated to be recognised as true. Consider, for instance, these remarks from the opening pages of Searle’s Intentionality: Some, not all, mental states and events have Intentionality. Beliefs, fears, hopes and desires are Intentional; but there are forms of nervousness, elation and undirected anxiety that are not Intentional.... My beliefs and desires must always be about something. But my nervousness and undirected anxiety need not in that way be about anything.4 Searle takes this as obvious, so obvious that it is not in need of further argument or elucidation. (shrink)
A singular thought can be characterized as a thought which is directed at just one object. The term ‘thought’ can apply to episodes of thinking, or to the content of the episode (what is thought). This paper argues that episodes of thinking can be just as singular, in the above sense, when they are directed at things that do not exist as when they are directed at things that do exist. In this sense, then, singular thoughts are not object-dependent.
It is widely agreed that perceptual experience is a form of intentionality, i.e., that it has representational content. Many philosophers take this to mean that like belief, experience has propositional content, that it can be true or false. I accept that perceptual experience has intentionality; but I dispute the claim that it has propositional content. This claim does not follow from the fact that experience is intentional, nor does it follow from the fact that experiences are accurate or inaccurate. I (...) end by considering the relationship between this question and the question of whether experience has non-conceptual content. (shrink)
Many philosophers are impressed by the progress achieved by physical sciences. This has had an especially deep effect on their ontological views: it has made many of them physicalists. Physicalists believe that everything is physical: more precisely, that all entities, properties, relations, and facts are those which are studied by physics or other physical sciences. They may not all agree with the spirit of Rutherford's quoted remark that 'there is physics; and there is stamp-collecting',' but they all grant physical science (...) a unique ontological authority: the authority to tell us what there is. Physicalism is now almost orthodox in much philosophy, notably in much recent philosophy of mind. But although often invoked, it is rarely explicitly defined. It should be. The claim that everything is physical is not as clear as it seems. In this paper, we examine a number of proposed definitions of physicalism and reasons for being a physicalist. We will argue both that physicalism lacks a clear and credible definition, and that in no non-vacuous interpretation is it true. We are concerned here only with physicalism as a doctrine about the empirical world. In particular, it should not be confused with nominalism, the doctrine that there are no universals.2 Nominalism and physicalism are quite independent doctrines. Believers in universals may as consistently assert as deny that the only properties and relations are those studied by physical science. And nominalists may with equal consistency assert or deny that physical science could provide enough predicates to describe the world. That is the question which concerns physicalists, not whether physical predicates name real universals. (We will for brevity write as if they do, but we do not need that assumption.). (shrink)
Newcomers to the philosophy of mind are sometimes resistant to the idea that pain is a mental state. If asked to defend their view, they might say something like this: pain is a physical state, it is a state of the body. A pain in one’s leg feels to be in the leg, not ‘in the mind’. After all, sometimes people distinguish pain which is ‘all in the mind’ from a genuine pain, sometimes because the second is ‘physical’ while the (...) first is not. And we also occasionally distinguish mental pain (which is normally understood as some kind of emotional distress) from the ‘physical pain’ one feels in one’s body. So what can be meant by saying that pain is a mental state? Of course, it only takes a little reflection shows that this naive view is mistaken. Pain is a state of consciousness, or an event in consciousness, and whether or not all states of mind are conscious, it is indisputable that only minds, or states of mind, are conscious.2 But does the naive view tell us anything about the concept of pain, or the concept of mind? I think it does. In this paper, I shall give reasons for thinking that consciousness is a form of intentionality, the mind’s ‘direction upon its objects’. I shall claim that the consciousness involved in bodily sensations like pain is constituted by the mind’s direction upon the part or region of the body where the sensation feels to be. Given this, it is less surprising that the naive view of pain says what it does: the apparent ‘physicality’ of pain is a consequence of confusing the object of the intentional state—the part of the body in which the pain is felt—with the state of being in pain. (shrink)
This edition has been fully revised and updated, and includes a new chapter on consciousness and a new section on modularity. There are also guides for further reading, and a new glossary of terms such as mentalese, connectionism, and the homunculus fallacy.
Is there, or should there be, any place in contemporary philosophy of mind for the concept of an intentional object? Many philosophers would make short work of this question. In a discussion of what intentional objects are supposed to be, John Searle.
‘It is of the very nature of consciousness to be intentional’ said Jean-Paul Sartre, ‘and a consciousness that ceases to be a consciousness of something would ipso facto cease to exist.’ Sartre here endorses the central doctrine of Husserl's phenomenology, itself inspired by a famous idea of Brentano's: that intentionality, the mind's ‘direction upon its objects’, is what is distinctive of mental phenomena. Brentano's originality does not lie in pointing out the existence of intentionality, or in inventing the terminology, which (...) derives from scholastic discussions of concepts or intentiones. Rather, his originality consists in his claim that the concept of intentionality marks out the subject matter of psychology: the mental. His view was that intentionality ‘is characteristic exclusively of mental phenomena. No physical phenomenon manifests anything like it.’ This is Brentano's thesis that intentionality is the mark of the mental. (shrink)
Cognitive neuroscientists frequently talk about the brain representing the world. Some philosophers claim that this is a confusion. This paper argues that there is no confusion, and outlines one thing that might mean, using the notion of a model derived from the philosophy of science. This description is then extended to make apply to propositional attitude attributions. A number of problems about propositional attitude attributions can be solved or dissolved by treating propositional attitudes as models.
Sense-perception—the awareness or apprehension of things by sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste—has long been a preoccupation of philosophers. One pervasive and traditional problem, sometimes called “the problem of perception”, is created by the phenomena of perceptual illusion and hallucination: if these kinds of error are possible, how can perception be what it intuitively seems to be, a direct and immediate access to reality? The present entry is about how these possibilities of error challenge the intelligibility of the phenomenon of (...) perception, and how the major theories of perception in the last century are best understood as responses to this challenge. (shrink)
It is widely held that there is a problem of talking about or otherwise representing things that not exist. But what exactly is this problem? This paper presents a formulation of the problem in terms of the conflict between the fact that there are truths about non-existent things and the fact that truths must be answerable to reality, how things are. Given this, the problem of singular negative existential statements is no longer the central or most difficult aspect of the (...) problem of non-existence, despite what some philosophers say. (shrink)
Franz Brentano’s attempt to distinguish mental from physical phenomena by employing the scholastic concept of intentional inexistence is often cited as reintroducing the concept of intentionality into mainstream philosophical discussion. But Brentano’s own claims about intentional inexistence are much misunderstood. In the second half of the 20th century, analytical philosophers in particular have misread Brentano’s views in misleading ways.1 It is important to correct these misunderstandings if we are to come to a proper assessment of Brentano’s worth as a philosopher (...) and his position in the history of philosophy. Good corrections have been made in the recent analytic literature by David Bell (1990), Dermot Moran (1996), and Barry Smith (1994) among others. But there is also another, more purely philosophical lesson to be learned from the proper understanding of Brentano’s views on this matter. This is that Brentano’s struggles with the concept of intentionality reveal a fundamental division between different ways of thinking about intentionality, an division which Brentano himself does not make fully clear. Making the nature of this division explicit is the aim of this paper. (shrink)
The central and defining characteristic of thoughts is that they have objects. The object of a thought is what the thought concerns, or what it is about. Since there cannot be thoughts which are not about anything, or which do not concern anything, there cannot be thoughts without objects. Mental states or events or processes which have objects in this sense are traditionally called ‘intentional,’ and ‘intentionality’ is for this reason the general term for this defining characteristic of thought. Under (...) the heading of ‘thought’ we can include many different kinds of mental apprehension of an object—including relatively temporary episodes of contemplating or scrutinising, as well as persisting states like beliefs and hopes which are not similarly episodic in character. These are all ways of thinking about an object. But even construing ‘thought’ in this broad way, it is clear that not all mental states and events are thoughts: sensations, emotions and perceptual experiences are not thoughts, but they are also paradigmatically mental. Do these mental states and events have objects too? Or are there mental states and events which have no objects? 1 The view that all mental phenomena have objects is sometimes called ‘Brentano’s thesis’ or the thesis that intentionality is the ‘mark’ of the mental.1 Sometimes the name ‘Brentano’s thesis’ is given to certain other views too: for example, to the view that only mental phenomena are intentional, or that all and only mental phenomena are intentional, or that nothing physical is intentional. These views are, however, distinct from the view that all mental phenomena are intentional. For holding that all mental phenomena are intentional does not imply that nothing nonmental is.2 And holding that all mental phenomena are intentional does not imply (pace Dennett 1969) that nothing physical is intentional; since if physicalism were true, then the mental itself would be physical. What I am concerned with here, however, is the idea that all mental states are intentional, regardless of whether anything else is, or whether anything physical is. In recent years there has been considerable debate over whether all mental states are intentional; in particular, over whether all conscious mental states are intentional or entirely intentional. (shrink)
In this paper, it is argued that the late twentieth century conception of consciousness in analytic philosophy emerged from the idea of consciousness as givenness, via the behaviourist idea of “raw feels”. In the post-behaviourist period in philosophy, this resulted in the division of states of mind into essentially unconscious propositional attitudes plus the phenomenal residue of qualia: intrinsic, ineffable and inefficacious sensory states. It is striking how little in the important questions about consciousness depends on this conception, or on (...) this particular division of mental states. So accepting this division and its associated conceptions of intentionality and consciousness is not an obligatory starting point for the philosophy of mind. A historical investigation of how these ideas came to be seen as inevitable can also help us see how we might reasonably reject them. (shrink)
This paper is about a puzzle which lies at the heart of contemporary physicalist theories of mind. On the one hand, the original motivation for physicalism was the need to explain the place of mental causation in the physical world. On the other hand, physicalists have recently come to see the explanation of mental causation as one of their major problems. But how can this be? How can it be that physicalist theories still have a problem explaining something which their (...) physicalism was intended to explain in the first place? If physicalism is meant to be an explanation of mental causation, then why should it still face the problem of mental causation? (shrink)
Some have claimed that people with very different beliefs literally see the world differently. Thus Thomas Kuhn: ‘what a man sees depends both upon what he looks at and also upon what his previous visual—conceptual experience has taught him to see’ (Kuhn 1970, p. ll3). This view — call it ‘Perceptual Relativism’ — entails that a scientist and a child may look at a cathode ray tube and, in a sense, the first will see it while the second won’t. The (...) claim is not, of course, that the child’s experience is ‘empty’; but that, unlike the scientist, it does not see the tube as a cathode ray tube. One way of supporting this claim is to say that one cannot see something as an F unless one has the concept F. Since the child plainly lacks the concept of a cathode ray tube, it cannot see it as a cathode ray tube. Although Perceptual Relativism is hard to believe, this supporting suggestion is not so implausible. After all, when we see (and more generally, perceive) the world, the world is presented to us in a particular way; so how can we see it as being that way unless we have some idea or conception of the way it is presented? We need not be committed to a representative theory of perception to think that perceptions in some sense represent the world. We can express this by saying that perceptions have content. Now it is a commonplace that the contents of beliefs and the other propositional attitudes involve concepts. The belief that this thing is a cathode ray tube involves, in some sense, the concept cathode ray tube. So the line of thought behind Perceptual Relativism may be expressed thus: seeing an F as an F is a state with content. (shrink)
In The Mind and the World Order, C.I. Lewis made a famous distinction between the immediate data ‘which are presented or given to the mind’ and the ‘construction or interpretation’ which the mind brings to those data (1929: 52). What the mind receives is the datum – literally, the given – and the interpretation is what happens when we being it ‘under some category or other, select from it, emphasise aspects of it, and relate it in particular and unavoidable ways’ (...) (1929: 52). So although any attempt to describe the given will inevitably be an interpretation of it, this should not give us reason to deny its existence: ‘no-one but a philosopher could for a moment deny this immediate presence in consciousness of that which no activity of thought can create or alter’ (1929: 53). Whatever those outside philosophy might think, Lewis was certainly right about what philosophers were prepared to deny. His conception of the ‘given’ is without question one of the targets of Wilfrid Sellars’s influential critique of the notion of the ‘whole framework of givenness’ (1957).1 One of the things Sellars was attacking was the idea that something that was merely given by the senses could put one in a position to be justified in making a judgement about the empirical world. The.. (shrink)
Some philosophers have argued recently that introspective evidence provides direct support for an intentionalist theory of visual experience. An intentionalist theory of visual experience treats experience as an intentional state, a state with an intentional content. (I shall use the word ’state’ in a general way, for any kind of mental phenomenon, and here I shall not distinguish states proper from events, though the distinction is important.) Intentionalist theories characteristically say that the phenomenal character of an experience, what it is (...) like to have the experience, is exhausted by its intentional content. Visual experience, and on some views sense-experience generally, does not involve the awareness of ’qualia’, intrinsic, non-intentional features of the experience. According to Gilbert Harman and Michael Tye, support for this view comes from introspecting on experience. Tye describes his ’argument from introspection’ as follows: Standing on the beach in Santa Barbara a couple of summers ago on a bright sunny day, I found myself transfixed by the intense blue of the Pacific Ocean. Was I not here delighting in the phenomenal aspects of my visual experience? And if I was, doesn’t this show that there are visual qualia? I am not convinced. It seems to me that what I found so pleasing in the above instance, what I was focusing on, as it were, were a certain shade and intensity of the colour blue. I experienced blue as a property of the ocean not as a property of my experience. My experience itself certainly wasn’t blue. Rather, it was an experience which represented the ocean as blue. What I was really delighting in, then, were specific aspects of the content of the experience. Tye goes on to suggest that this might have been the sort of thing Moore meant when he said that the sensation of blue is ’diaphanous’, and glosses this as follows: When one tries to focus on it in introspection one cannot help but see right through it so that what one actually ends up attending to is the real colour blue. 1An early version of this paper was presented at the conference, Mental Phenomena III in Dubrovnik, Croatia.. (shrink)
This paper is an attempt to understand the content of, and motivation for, a popular form of physicalism, which I call ‘non-reductive physicalism’. Non-reductive physicalism claims although the mind is physical (in some sense), mental properties are nonetheless not identical to (or reducible to) physical properties. This suggests that mental properties are, in earlier terminology, ‘emergent properties’ of physical entities. Yet many non-reductive physicalists have denied this. In what follows, I examine their denial, and I argue that on a plausible (...) understanding of what ‘emergent’ means, the denial is indefensible: non-reductive physicalism is committed to mental properties being emergent properties. It follows that the problems for emergentism—especially the problems of mental causation—are also problems for non-reductive physicalism, and they are problems for the same reason. (shrink)
The mind-body problem in contemporary philosophy has two parts: the problem of mental causation and the problem of consciousness. These two parts are not unrelated; in fact, it can be helpful to see them as two horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, the causal interaction between mental and physical phenomena seems to require that all causally efficacious mental phenomena are physical; but on the other hand, the phenomenon of consciousness seems to entail that not all mental phenomena are (...) physical.2 One may avoid this dilemma by adopting an epiphenomenalist view of consciousness, of course; but there is little independent reason for believing such a view. Rejecting epiphenomenalism, then, leaves contemporary philosophers with their problem: mental causation inclines them towards physicalism, while consciousness inclines them towards dualism. (shrink)
This paper presents a puzzle or antinomy about the role of properties in causation. In theories of properties, a distinction is often made between determinable properties, like red, and their determinates, like scarlet (see Armstrong 1978, volume II). Sometimes determinable properties are cited in causal explanations, as when we say that someone stopped at the traffic light because it was red. If we accept that properties can be among the relata of causation, then it can be argued that there are (...) good reasons for allowing that some of these are determinable properties. On the other hand, there are strong arguments in the metaphysics of properties to treat properties as sparse in David Lewis’s (1983) sense. But then it seems that we only need to believe in the most determinate properties: particular shades of colour, specific masses, lengths and so on. And if we also agree with Lewis that sparse properties are ‘the ones relevant to causal powers’ (1983: 13) it seems we must conclude that if properties are relevant to causation at all, then all of these are determinate properties. I call this ‘the antinomy of determinable causation’. On the one hand, we have a good argument for the claim that determinable properties can be causes, if any properties are. I call this the Thesis. But on the other hand, we have a good argument for the claim that only the most determinate properties can be causes, if any properties are. I call this the Antithesis. Clearly, we need to reject either the Thesis or the.. (shrink)
The concept of intentionality --- what Brentano called ‘the mind’s direction on its obj ects’ --- has been a preoccupation of many of the most significant twentieth century philosophers. The purpose of this essay is to examine the place of the concept of intentionality in Wittgenstein’s later philosophy, and to criticize one aspect of his treatment of intentionality. Although the word ‘intentionality’ is not (to my knowledge) used in Wittgenstein’s philosophical writings, the idea it expresses was central at all stages (...) of his philosophical development. This should be obvious on a little reflection, not least because the philosophical notion of intentionality is closely related to the notion of meaning, and questions about meaning are, of course, central to both the T ractatus and Wittgenstein’s later work.‘ A full treatment of Wittgenstein’s views on meaning is not a task for a single essay. Instead, what I want to do here is to narrow the focus and discuss some specific claims in Wittgenstein’s middle and later work about the role of the notion of grammar in his attempts to solve (or dissolve) some quite specific problems of intentionality. In particular, I want to restrict myself to the discussion his later remarks about the relationship between expectation and fulfillment, and the. (shrink)
The nature of perception has long been a central question in philosophy. It is of crucial importance not just in the philosophy of mind, but also in epistemology, metaphysics, aesthetics, and the philosophy of science. The essays in this 1992 volume not only offer fresh answers to some of the traditional problems of perception, but also examine the subject in light of contemporary research on mental content. A substantial introduction locates the essays within the recent history of the subject, and (...) demonstrates the links between them. The Contents of Experience brings together some prominent philosophers in the field, and offers a major statement on a problem central to current philosophical thinking. Notable contributors include Christopher Peacocke, Brian O'Shaughnessy and Michael Tye. (shrink)
Dualism can be contrasted with monism, and also with physicalism. It is argued here that what is essential to physicalism is not just its denial of dualism , but the epistemological and ontological authority it gives to physical science. A physicalist view of the mind must be reductive in one or both of the following senses: it must identify mental phenomena with physical phenomena or it must give an explanation of mental phenomena in physical terms . There is little reason (...) to call a view which is not reductive in either of these senses “physicalism”. If reduction is rejected, then a non-physicalist form of monism is still available, which may be called “emergentism”. (shrink)
It will be obvious to anyone with a slight knowledge of twentieth-century analytic philosophy that one of the central themes of this kind of philosophy is the nature of perception: the awareness of the world through the five senses of sight, touch, smell, taste, and hearing. Yet it can seem puzzling, from our twenty-first-century perspective, why there is a distinctively philosophical problem of perception at all. For when philosophers ask ‘what is the nature of perception?’, the question can be confused (...) with other, purely empirical, questions. For example: how do our sense-organs actually work? What are the mechanisms of smell and taste? How do vision and touch actually provide us with information about the world around us? There is much general agreement, in its broad outlines, about how to answer such questions empirically; but it is not clear what role, if any, philosophy has to play in answering these empirical questions. So if these were the only questions about the nature of perception, then it would not be clear exactly what the philosophy of perception is supposed to be about. Some philosophers (e.g. Brewer 2000) have argued that there is a distinctively philosophical question here, but it is epistemological, viz. how does perception provide 1 reason for our beliefs about the empirical world? This, it seems, is a question which remains to be answered even after the empirical world is done. This is because the question about reasons is normative rather than scientific or descriptive. Even once the psychological theory of vision, for example, has done its job in describing fully the mechanisms of vision, the normative question still can be asked: what makes this process result in something which gives a reason, something which justifies a belief? Suppose I see a bottle before me, and come to believe on the basis of this that there is a bottle before me. My reason for believing that this is a bottle is that I can see it. But what makes seeing the bottle a reason for this belief? It can be argued that the need to give a satisfactory answer to this question constrains our choice of theory of perception.. (shrink)