Consciousness Thought

Keeping the World in Mind: Mental Representations and the by Anne Jaap Jacobson

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By Anne Jaap Jacobson

Drawing on a variety of assets, together with the historical past of philosophy, her position as director of a cognitive neuroscience team, and her Wittgensteinian education at Oxford, Jacobson offers clean perspectives on illustration, suggestions, notion, motion, emotion and trust.

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The narrowing down might be done on the samples side. We can find a version of the phenomenon discussed in Goodman (1968). His example is a tailor’s book of swatches (52–54). The swatches are examples or samples of color and weave but not shape. Hence, they represent color and weave, but not shape. Further, on Goodman’s account, this determinacy is due to the fact that such swatches are symbols, and as such they depend on a symbol system. Presumably, if someone picks up one of Goodman’s swatches and remarks that this is a perfect example of the shape of the normal swatch, Goodman need not say the speaker is wrong.

One thing samples and examples can enable one to do is to convey information which one cannot at the time articulate. Thus, one may not be able to describe the difference between American applause and British clapping, but it is very easy to display. There may also be a difference in how information is processed. It is very difficult to learn complicated movements from a series of descriptions, but relatively easy to learn Tai Chi by watching someone. We now know that our brains do something very like translate visual signals into motor ones when we watch people perform.

But I think this would be a mistake, since the Aristotelian conception captures one of two very different ways of communicating, while the current philosophical conception of representation targets the other, as we have seen. That is, there are two different ways of telling someone what color one desires for a wall, the way a tai chi movement is performed, how the French ‘r’ sounds and so on. One way is by describing it in sentences that have content and aboutness. The other way is to provide an instance or a sample of it, and thus displaying it.

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