The Presence of Mind

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Will our everyday account of ourselves be vindicated by a new science? Or, will our self-understanding remain untouched by such developments? This book argues that beliefs and desires have a legitimate place in the explanation of action. Eliminativist arguments mistakenly focus on the vehicles of content not content itself. This book asks whether a naturalistic theory of content is possible. It is argued that a modest biosemantic theory of intentional, but nonconceptual, content is the naturalist’s best bet. A theory of this kind complements connectionism and recent work on embodied and embedded cognition. But intentional content is not equivalent to propositional content. In order to understand propositional content we must rely on Davidsonian radical interpretation.
However, radical interpretation is shown to be at odds with physicalism. But if the best naturalised theory of content we are likely to get from cognitive science is only a theory of intentional content, then a naturalistic explanation of scientific theorising is not possible. It is concluded that cognitive science alone cannot explain the nature of our minds and that eliminativism is intellectually incoherent. (Series A)

Subjects: Cognitive psychology; Consciousness research; Philosophy

  • Affiliations: 1: University of Hertfordshire

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