Only Friends, Despite the Rumors: Philosophy of Mind's Consciousness and Intentionality

Chartrand, Louis (2012) Only Friends, Despite the Rumors: Philosophy of Mind's Consciousness and Intentionality. [Conference Poster] (Unpublished)

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Being evasive as it is, philosophers have often tried to do without consciousness. Despite this, it has played a key role in the endeavours of philosophy of mind, as witnessed by its reputation as a "mark of the mental" and works of philosophers like John Searle and Daniel Dennett. Intentionality has shared a similar role, such that one and the other have often been brought together in a symbiotic relationship (Searle 1990) or deemed coextensive (Crane 1998). Such promiscuity is not necessary. The revolution brought about by embodied and situated approaches seem to leave little place for such an association. Intentionality is seldom studied in the new paradigm, and when it is, new models of it are applicable to biological and robotic structures which, by most accounts, probably have no consciousness (Millikan 1984, Menary 2006). Menary (2009) also notes that the same could be said of scholastic accounts of intentionality. On the other hand, consciousness is being studied and various ways which do not involve intentionality or anything similar. I suggest that the association between these two notions has to do with the particular intellectual environment that prevailed in traditional philosophy of mind. Considerations about access and the good fortune of cognitivism, among other factors, made for a culture that emphasized the gap between behaviour on one hand and the the mental states that characterize us when we are in a disposition to cause behaviour on the other. In such conditions, concepts like intentionality and consciousness acted as bridge and allowed for a language which enabled accounts of the mind that remained somewhat comprehensive and unified, while leaving the gap unfilled. As they were covering the most problematic and elusive parts of our understanding of the mind, there was both enough similarity in the ways we used those concepts, and enough vagueness in how we accounted for their realization in physical systems, to make a rapprochement inevitable. When a new paradigm swept away the cognitivist conception of representation, some philosophers and cognitive scientists turned to more embodied and situated models of cognition. Representations in this paradigm (such as Millikan’s (1995) and Clark’s (1997)) are “action-oriented”, thus leaving no gap between action and representation – getting an account of the complex representations that we communicate in propositions is thus seen as a matter of empirical investigation. If there is no gap, concepts like intentionality and consciousness are called to play different roles in accounts of the mind – roles which do not permit any confusion. The poster will highlight relevant differences in the philosophical climate as they project themselves in accounts of representation (following Gallagher 2008), and make salient the link between this climate and the role of cognition in philosophy of mind.

Item Type:Conference Poster
Subjects:Philosophy > Philosophy of Mind
ID Code:8678
Deposited By: Chartrand, Louis
Deposited On:09 Nov 2012 19:52
Last Modified:18 Feb 2013 15:15


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