Carl MairDo minds represent the world, and if so, how do those representations get there?IntroductionThe idea that minds r...
among symbols which reliably respect semantic properties of relata5. Elsewhere6, Fodor hascalled the process of delivering...
language. In fact, Fodor argues that all these operations occur in a language, which he callsthe language of thought.Fodor...
Classical critiques of connectionist theories seem to follow the lines of the 1988 article byFodor and Pylysyn17 (hencefor...
approaches to mental content: that it comes from outside the organism. If all concepts andthoughts are primitive- or to pu...
This model, known as embodied cognition aims to replace the traditional Cartesiandichotomy of mind and world (still assume...
urges that we get rid of it entirely.30 Interestingly, his argument is not eliminativist in that he isa firm believer in d...
What Garfield wants to deny is that all cognitive activity is merely the manipulation of innerrepresentations; he wants, i...
from representation. Only humans can think since as well as intentionality we also possess asign-system, but animals and p...
playing chess, something else again. If we choose to call one of these activitiesrepresentational it has to mean something...
Chomsky N in his Review of Skinners Verbal Behaviour (1959)Churchland P The Engine of Reason, the Seat of the Soul (MIT Pr...
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Do minds represent the world

  1. 1. Carl MairDo minds represent the world, and if so, how do those representations get there?IntroductionThe idea that minds represent the world is a core assumption of many theoreticalinvestigations into the nature of mind. It is a starting premise of both cognitive science andpsychology1, and even the more empirical approaches engage the language of representationin their explanations.2But ‘mental representation’ is far from a settled concept, and there are many different notionsabout what the term means. Part of this confusion may be due to the numinous character ofthe word ‘mental’. Although the mind presents as a unitary category, it is in fact theemergent outcome of a multitude of brain processes (hence forth mind/brain). Unlike the earlydays of cognitive linguistics, when Chomsky famously reinstated a mentalist approach tocognitive capacities3, in modern debates the brain has assumed a position of increasingimportance.4 This essay will treat ‘mental representation’ as referring to a restricted set ofmind/brain processes, and in particular, to those involved with what is commonly known as‘thinking’. Though ‘thinking’ will take up much of the ensuing analysis, a large part of thisessay will try to disentangle other cognitive activities which have often been assumed to berepresentational. The distinction between environmentally ‘de-coupled’ representativeactivities and ‘coupled’ activities will be presented as critical to getting a clear understandingof the term.One of the most detailed and prevalent accounts of mental representation is given by Fodor’swork in the Computational Theory of Mind (CTM). This position will be examined first witha view to outlining the concerns and stakes of the mental representation debate. Theconnectionist architecture account will be examined next, along with its competing theoreticalcommitments. The following sections will present two less main-stream approaches to mentalrepresentation, in the form of Andy Clark’s minimal-Cartesian ‘embodied cognition’ and JayGarfield’s anti-representationalist stance. The theoretical commitment of these last twomodels to the ‘coupled’/’de-coupled’ distinction will be argued to provide the most plausibleaccount of ‘representation’, notwithstanding the challenge these theories present to the notionof mental representation all together.The classical approachThe classical approach to cognitive science and mental representation is closely aligned withthe early work of Fodor, and centres around two closely linked hypotheses, namely CTM andthe language of thought hypothesis.First, some historical and terminological issues. CTM was born out of Turings work in the1950s which showed that any sophisticated process that reduced to serial syntactical inputscould be computed by a machine so as to give the corresponding outputs. Thinking (to use adisputed term) could therefore be defined in purely formal terms, as those causal relations1 J. Fodor, Concepts: where Cognitive Science Went Wrong (Clarendon Press, 1998), p 82 A. Damasio The Feeling of What Happens (Harcourt Brace, 1999) p 3333 N Chomsky in his Review of Skinners Verbal Behaviour (1959), generally4 The work of Churchland in particular, see P Churchland The Engine of Reason, the Seat of the Soul (MIT Press,1996), P 5 1
  2. 2. among symbols which reliably respect semantic properties of relata5. Elsewhere6, Fodor hascalled the process of delivering semantic output from syntactical processes ‘syntax/semanticsparallelism, and claims it as the main philosophical interest of computational psychology7.The relata in the above quote are mental representations (henceforth, representations), and itis these that bear the semantic content. When a thinker bears a relation to theserepresentations (be it belief, desire or some other folk psychological category), he has what iscalled a propositional attitude: a mental representation plus its relational nature equals apropositional attitude. Furthermore, a thought is merely the cover term for therepresentation which expresses the proposition that is the object of the attitude8. For example,S may have the belief that Hilary is a girls name. This qualifies as a thought since it is both arepresentation (with semantic content) as well as an expression of Ss relation towards it.Hilary9 on the other hand is simply one concept among others which composes the thought.The fact that thoughts decompose into concepts Fodor refers to as compositionality.To briefly summarise. A thought is the representation of the object of an attitude, and iscomposed of concepts. Thinking is the movement from thought to thought via a causalprocess driven by a purely syntactic engine. The ‘engine’ itself is the set of rules whichgoverns the causality.The key to this account is that of syntax/semantics parallelism. Fodor explains the waycontent-rich thoughts can be produced from content-ignorant computation (i.e. howintentional mental processes are implemented by syntactical ones) as follows10: consider a psychological causal law of the form A-states cause B-states where "A" and "B" express intentional properties. For present purposes the, the imple- mentation principle says: for each individual that falls under the antecedent of this law there will be some syntactic property AS, such that for each individual that falls under the consequent of the law there will be some syntactic property BS such that AS-states cause BS-states is a lawThe idea that syntax can entirely explain semantics has come under attack from numeroustheorists, including Putnams famous demonstration that syntax in fact underdeterminessemantics.11 However, the idea remains compelling for a number of reasons. If thinking is themanipulation of compositional elements by formal rules, then the observed productivity andsystematicity of thought can be explained. Productivity (or the ability of thinkers to constructnovel thoughts) is simply seen as the result of the combinatorial possibilities for a large set ofelements. Since thoughts are made of concepts, and since the human repertoire of concepts isso vast, the possible number of thoughts is almost incalculable.12 Likewise, if thoughtsdecompose into concepts, any thought involving a one way relation such as aRb can also existas bRa, which explains the apparent systematicity of thought: if S can believe that Hilaryloves Noam, S can also believe that Noam loves Hilary. The syntactic processes which governthese manipulations are said to be sets of generative rules similar to those Chomsky posits for5 J Fodor, Concepts: where Cognitive Science Went Wrong (Clarendon Press, 1998), p 106 Loewer and Rey (ed) Fodors reply to Devitt in Meaning in Mind (Blackwell, 1991), p 2847 Loewer and Rey (ed), see n 6above, p 2858 J. Fodor, see n 3 above, p 259 Actually this isnt entirely accurate, see Fodor, n 4 above, p 28410 Loewer and Rey (ed), see n 6above, p 28411 Using the Lowenheim-Skolem theorem in logic. In fact other weaker views of the relation between syntax andsemantics were endorsed by the main proponents of CTM []12 S. Pinker, How the mind works (Softback Preview, 1998) p 88 2
  3. 3. language. In fact, Fodor argues that all these operations occur in a language, which he callsthe language of thought.Fodor proposes a language of thought (LOT) wherein exist both the vocabulary of conceptsand the syntactic laws which govern their manipulation. Given that it is a language, it followsthat its representations (thoughts) are sentential not imagistic. Furthermore, since thoughts aremerely the representation of the object of a propositional attitude, it also holds that LOT iscommitted to the legitimation of folk psychology (if thoughts are an instantiation of a relationwhich is a folk psychological category, then folk psychology is naturalised to a certainextent). This issue will be picked up again later in the essay.One difficulty in suggesting that there is a language of thought is the same difficulty thatChomskys research program faces in having to determine which aspects are learned andwhich innate. Certainly the sets of syntactic operations are likely candidates for innateness.But the difficulty really starts when deciding how much of the substantive content, in the formof concepts, is innate. In Fodors hierarchy of structural complexity, thoughts are composed ofconcepts, which in turn may be composed of simpler concepts, but there comes a point whenthe concepts become primitive and irreducible. According to Fodor, if a concept belongs tothe primitive basis from which complex mental representations are constructed, it must beipso facto unlearned.13 Exactly what is primitive (and thus innate) and what is complex (andlearned) is still the subject of on-going debate, though some candidate examples of conceptualprimitives are concepts like Red, Cause etc.14It is useful to summarise Fodors model of mental representation by adverting to his widerexplanatory project. In general, one can view most of Fodors theoretical work as kind ofapologia for intentionalist psychology15. That is to say, Fodor is committed to a theory ofhuman behaviour which relies on causal explanation in the terms of folk psychology. Forinstance, Fodor is interested in defending the empirical validity of the following kind ofstatements, P did X because he desired Y and he needed to do X in order to achieve Y. Hismodels of CTM and LOT help to give this endeavour a theoretical base.It is interesting to note that Fodor applies this model of inner symbols standing for externalobjects or concepts to all mental processes indiscriminately. There appears to be no allowancefor the apparent heterogeneity of cognitive abilities. ‘Decoupled’ and ‘coupled’ cognitiveactivities are presented as sub-served by the same representational system. This issue will bedealt with in some detail in the section dealing with ‘embodied cognition’, but it should benoted that this failure to distinguish between ‘coupled’ and ‘decoupled’ cognitive processeswill be argued to constitute a major weakness in Fodor’s explanatory project.A very different model of mental representation with contrasting theoretical commitments isgiven by CTM’s old adversary, connectionism, which we will now review.The connectionist approachIn general, classical CTM theorists have given connectionist models of the mind fairly shortshrift.1613 J. Fodor, see n 3 above, p 2714 J. Fodor, see n3 above, p 12415 M. Cain, Fodor, (Polity, 2002) p 15016 see in particular S. Pinker in How the Mind works, see n 12 above, p 112-120, 3
  4. 4. Classical critiques of connectionist theories seem to follow the lines of the 1988 article byFodor and Pylysyn17 (henceforth, the FP critique), which gave connectionists a choice ofeither 1.) being wrong. or 2.) being just an implementation of the classical approach. Since anunderstanding of connectionist mental representation is required to understand the force of theFP critique, this will be outlined first.Of the different kinds of connectionist theories, parallel distributed processing (PDP)represents the standard approach (an ‘updated’ version of PDP will be looked at in the sectiondealing with ‘embodied cognition’). The salient difference between PDP and classical CTM isthat PDP dispenses with symbols and rules entirely, and replaces them with patterns ofnumerical activity over groups of units, and patterns of weights over groups of connections18.Since PDP rejects mentalist objects such as symbols and rules and focuses instead on thephysical realizability in the material of the brain, it is eliminative with respect to the mental.But this rejection of discrete mental symbols in favour of a distributed pattern of neuralactivity has several consequences. The most important of which is the implied valediction tothe concept of compositionality so crucial to Fodors project. If a mental representation is apattern of activity, and each representation has a different pattern of activity (set by repeatedexposure, i.e. learning) then every representation is theoretically primitive in Fodors sense ofthe word; and every thought is primitive. Since everything is primitive, the distinctionbetween thoughts, complex concepts, and primitive concepts necessarily breaks down. The FPcritique uses this result in a kind of syllogism: (a) Thoughts are systematic. (b) Compositionality is the only way to ensure systematicity (c) PDP is non-compositional Therefore, either: (1)PDP fails as an explanation for thinking, and is useless. or (2) you save the show by demonstrating (c) is false with the result that PDP does not really differ from classical CTM.This last result is often called the implementationalist approach to PDP, in that PDP is seenmainly as a way of neurally realizing classical CTM. Though some PDP theorists haveswallowed this bitter pill, others, like Smolensky19 have developed what he calls a hybridconnectionist/symbolic architecture which he claims can still maintain the essentialdifferences of a connectionist approach while ensuring compositionality (and thus explainingsystematicity.) The explication involves reasonably complicated formal methods in the shapeof tensor calculus, and is outside the scope of this essay. The important point to extract fromthis discussion is that the PDP notion of mental representation rejects the classical image ofthoughts as complex symbols/tokens and of thinking as symbol-crunching. PDPrepresentations are simply distributed patterns of neural activity, which get there byexperience, moderated by PDP learning procedures.Two theoretical spin-offs from this result are the elimination of innate structures or contentand the de-legitimation of folk psychology. The first spin-off comes from an assumptionwhich underlies PDP learning and is shared with all Associationist/Behaviourist/Empiricist17 J. Fodor and Pylyshyns Connectionism and Cognitive Architecture: A critical analysis (1988)18 P. Smolensky in Computational Theory of Mind in S. Guttenplan (ed) A Companion to the Philosophy ofMind, p 17819 P. Smolensky Connectionism, Constituency, and the Language of Thought in Loewer and Rey (eds), see n 4above, p 201 4
  5. 5. approaches to mental content: that it comes from outside the organism. If all concepts andthoughts are primitive- or to put it differently (though meaning the same thing), - if there areno primitive concepts or thoughts, then all concepts are acquired the same way: throughexperience (moderated perhaps by innate learning mechanisms). Mental representations aresimply experiential imprints of regularities on the outside, derived through a kind ofstatistical-frequency filter. The second spin-off also relates to the non-compositional nature ofPDP representations. If PDP representations really are distributed and superpositional, thenconnectionist models do not seem to have internal states that could be discretely identified asparticular intentional states.20It is important to note that these conclusions fly in the face of Fodors explanatory project oflegitimising an intentionalist psychology for human behaviour.At this point it is useful to summarise the major philosophical differences between theclassical and connectionist approaches. It has been widely observed that the respectiveexplanatory powers of the two approaches are in fact near mirror-images. While the "chunkysymbolic" approach excels at structural tasks like logical reasoning, it is weak with respect tostatistical generalizations; the PDP approach, on the other hand, is weak at anything structural(due to the non-compositionality of its representations), but excels at statistical analyses21.Furthermore, PDP models have the added advantage of being able to explain patterns ofactual human brain damage, where computational capacity is reduced but not completelydestroyed as would likely be the case if thinking was simply due to a single system of rulesand representations. So while the classical approach seems to have greater explanatory powerin regard to the ratiocinative aspects of thought, PDP has advantages in respect of neuralplausibility. However, despite these differences, the two models share the assumption thatcognitive activities are sub-served by a single representational system; one where the world isre-presented regardless of whether the cognitive process is ‘coupled’ to the object in real-timeor if it is absent.The two models which will be examined next, that of embodied cognition and Garfieldsanti-representationalist stance, develop this important distinction as a core theoreticalrequirement.The embodied cognition approachA recent article by Andy Clark22 explains how the model of PDP outlined above has beenextended in recent work in single recurrent neural networks, so that representations are nolonger just instantaneous patterns of activity but patterns of activity in temporally extendedprocessing trajectories.23 This model supports the conceptualisation of representations as lesslike simple inner states and more like complex inner processes. Such a model is aimed atcapturing situations which involve heavily interactive agent-environment activities in real-time like dancing24, where the ‘representation’ is constantly ‘updated’. Many so-called post-Cartesian philosophers of mind have interpreted the success of some of these models as a fatalblow to the Fodorean account of mental representation as a system of static inner symbols,and indeed as fatal for any representational theory of mind at all.20 Churchlands critique, see S. Guttenplan (ed), A Companion to Philosophy of Mind (Blackwell, 1995) p 20721 S. Guttenplan (ed), see n 18 above, p17822 A. Clark, Embodiment and the Philosophy of Mind, in Virtual Course book23 A. Clark, see n 22 above, p 624 A. Clark, see n 22 above, p 6 5
  6. 6. This model, known as embodied cognition aims to replace the traditional Cartesiandichotomy of mind and world (still assumed by models which rely on notions of the innerand outer like classical PDP and classical CTM) with a model of mind in world, where anextensive feed-back relationship breaks down the inner/outer divide. Clark disagrees with thisextreme view, and instead develops a kind of minimal Cartesianism (MC). In essence, MC follows along the lines of the embodied cognition model in situations of richagent-world interaction, but departs when situations become representation hungry25: Properly representation-hungry scenarios would be planning next years vacation, using mental imagery to count windows in your old house, doing mental arithmetic, dreaming etc.This departure from embodied cognition in representation-hungry scenarios is characterisedas an acceptance of the near-Fodorean idea of thinking as off-line environmentally de-coupled reason. However, unlike Fodor, Clark restricts the application of this faculty to thosecases which do not require real-time interactive engagement with the world. Furthermore,contra Fodor, Clark takes pains to explain this faculty without recourse to the classicalcontent-neutral, rich, action-independent, highly manipulable inner symbolic structure.26 Themodel Clark pursues is one which allows rich, action-neutral structures but seeks to place thisstructure outside, in our experiences with public language and other externalizable andinterpersonally shareable symbol systems.27 Environmentally de-coupled human thought andreason is said to be scaffolded by the external structure of sign-systems, and manifests asextended computational processes spanning the boundaries between brain, body and world.28It is important to make clear the philosophical consequences of this model. In contrast to bothclassical CTM and traditional PDP, MC does not assume that all cognitive processes are sub-served by a single system of representation. ‘On-line’ cognitive activities, such as physicalinteractions with the world, are served by coupled representative processes. ‘Off-line’cognitive activities, like planning, or what is traditionally called ‘thinking’ is served by asystem of de-coupled representations which are learnt via culture in the shape of naturallanguage. It is only these last types of activities, which according to Clark, are‘representation-hungry’ enough to actually require such a system.Garfield modifies Clark’s model by denying that the ‘coupled’ interactions with the worldneed be called ‘representative’ at all. He argues this point by developing a distinction hebelieves has been overlooked in the literature: that between intention and representation. Wewill now examine this argument.Garfields anti-representationalist stanceA large portion of Garfields article29 is a kind of meta-philosophical inquiry into the idea ofmental representation as a concept in its own right. The overall thesis is that it is a metaphorthat has been misapplied as literal in the philosophy of mind. With characteristic audacity, he25 A Clark, see n 22 above, p 1826 A Clark, see n 22 above, p 2327 A Clark, see n 22 above,p 2428 A Clark, see n 22 above,p 2529 J. Garfield, Intention: (Doing away with Mental representation),( 6
  7. 7. urges that we get rid of it entirely.30 Interestingly, his argument is not eliminativist in that he isa firm believer in desire-belief psychology.31. Furthermore, he reminds us that even theeliminativists follow a representational theory of mind (a PDP representation is a pattern ofneural activity). The anti-representationalist model Garfield presents walks a kind of tight-rope, as he acknowledges himself32: I remain a friend of belief, though I find myself becoming a foe of representation, and so position myself at the same time closer to the mainstream and further on the lunatic fringe.Like Clark, Garfield considers the differences between different types of cognitive activitiesas vitally important. Although he does not share the terminology, Garfield draws thedistinction between agent/environment interactive cognition and environmentally de-coupledreason. Garfield attributes both the traditional PDP and CTM approaches tendency to treat allcognitive skills under one representational system as due to the pervasiveness of therepresentation metaphor33 There is the assumption that any kind of information-bearing states or processes are representational, however much they might not look to be- that representation is the default assumption regarding the nature of cognitive activity; even the processes that subserve motor-control are thought of as representational- the drive to treat all cognition homogenously is not taken as a drive to treat conceptual activity as similar to motor control in virtue of being non-representational, but the reverse.Although roughly on the same side of the argument as Clark, Garfield dislikes Clarks habit ofstill referring to environmentally-coupled cognitive activities as representational. Using theexample of the visual system, Garfield considers the perception of rotating blocks. He arguesthat there is no need to represent them; I can simply see them34. The statement may seem alittle glib, and needs some unpacking before it can be properly understood. The object ofperception is present in front of him, and though the visual system may perform operations onthe percept, these are merely to mediate detection and interaction35: there is no need to re-present what is already present- all this is part of presenting the object. The point is a subtleone. Indeed, neurophysiologists refer to the inputs from the sensory modalities inrepresentational terms. Damasio36 refers to auditory or tactile ‘images’. It is also clear that thesensory modalities, and the visual system in particular, do use various ‘cortical maps’. Thecrucial distinction Garfield seems to be driving at is representation as standing in forsomething absent or non-existent, and representation as a model for something that is alreadypresent. Since the latter is rather a means of processing that which is present and not in factsomething which ‘stands in’ for something else, there is no reason to call it representational.Once this distinction is drawn, to continue to call visual and auditory ‘images’ representationsrather than presentations seems a kind of Kantian hang-over, where only that which is thenoumenal ‘thing-in-itself’ can escape the designation.30 J. Garfield, see n 29 above, p 231 J. Garfield, see n 29 above, p232 J. Garfield, see n 29 above,p 233 J. Garfield, see n 29 above,p 334 J. Garfield, see n 29 above,p 535 J. Garfield, see n 29 above,p 536 A. Damasio, TheFeeling of What Happens (Harcourt Brace, 1999) p 333 7
  8. 8. What Garfield wants to deny is that all cognitive activity is merely the manipulation of innerrepresentations; he wants, in his own words, to leave the external world outside37, and onlytalk about representations when they become part of that external world.The distinction that Garfield thinks Clark overlooked to lead him to the erroneous view thatagent/environment interactive activities were representational, was that between intentionalityand representation. According to Garfield, what our mental processes are good for isintending38. Environmentally coupled cognitive activities only exhibit intentionality, they donot require representation. For instance, Ss hitting a tennis ball with a racket is notrepresentational (in terms of involving a rich content-neutral symbol system); it is simplyintentional, in that it involves a cognitive process directed at or about something.Mental intentionality plus linguistic representation equals human thought’.39 Representationthen, in the only sense which Garfield permits it, is something humans do in a derivativesense, in that the representational burden is borne by the external sign system of publiclanguage. It is the only means we have to think about the non-existent, the abstract and thedistant. He later adds40: The representation in this case is, crucially, not the vehicle of thought, not a cognitive state, but rather the immediate object of thought, a linguistic item. Cognition intends the object, which in turn represents the abstract fact in question. ...the kernel of truth in the language of thought hypothesis is the intuition that representation must have determinate, and indeed, compositional content and that only language can provide that. It does not follow, however that thought is in language only that it is of language.Fodors internal and private LOT is thus replaced with external and public natural language,which among other things41 is the sign system which allows environmentally de-coupledrepresentative thought. The idea that the language of thought is natural language is not a newone42, but Garfield presents some empirical evidence to substantiate the claim.In another paper43, Garfield reports some experimental results which seem to suggest that theacquisition of certain features of natural language grammar are necessary to scaffold certainkinds of thinking. The ability of children to reason about the mental states of other agentsseemed to be causally related to children’s ability to master the sentential complement (Sbelieves that X). Other studies by Berk et al44 in different areas of thinking also corroboratethe causal relationship between language acquisition and other mental abilities.The problem with this model, as with all models which suggest that natural language is thelanguage of thought, is that it seems to disallow the existence of non-linguistic thought.Garfield addresses this issue by falling back on his notion of mental intentionality as distinct37 J. Garfield, see n 29 above, p 1938 J. Garfield, see n 29 above ,p 1539 J. Garfield, see n 29 above ,p 1540 J. Garfield, see n 29 above, p 1741 Garfield is keen to stress that this is not language’s sole purpose42 Has been expressed by Dennett, and also by Chomsky (in some moods): language is a tool for thought.43 J. Garfield Lets pretend: the role of language in the acquisition of Theory of Mind,( Referenced in J. Garfield, see n 29 above, p 15 8
  9. 9. from representation. Only humans can think since as well as intentionality we also possess asign-system, but animals and pre-lingual infants can still have intentional actions45.ConclusionHaving surveyed three different models of mental representations and one anti-representational account, we are in the position to draw some conclusions.This analysis commenced with the fairly concrete and detailed position of Fodor’s classicalCTM theorists, then addressed the connectionist program and finally attempted to present themore abstract and recent accounts of Clark and Garfield. The changing pattern of concernsand considerations which motivated each model is fairly obvious. Fodors project to naturalisefolk psychology and thus legitimate intentionalist-causal explanations of human behaviourrequired thought to be a private process, biologically endowed, and hence the centrality ofLOT hypothesis to his whole enterprise. The PDP approaches, on the other hand, seem to bedriven by a concern for neural plausibility, and secondarily perhaps (at least in Churchlandscase) as an implementation of the eliminitivist program. Both of these models try to get theoutside in, in the form of representations whether these are innate or learned, and bothattempt to explain all mind/brain processes as using a single representational system. Clarkand Garfields recognition of the mind/brains cognitive heterogeneity and the importantdistinction between environmentally coupled and de-coupled activities seem to this author tobe a well taken point, and one whose philosophical consequences will now form the bulk ofthese conclusions.In many ways the Garfield/Clark account of representation is an interesting combination ofboth the classical CTM and the PDP approaches. The updated PDP model has been used toexplain environmentally coupled cognitive activities as really non-representational temporallystructured processes. Garfields insight that the crucial feature of these sub-symbol activities isintentionality helps to explain their outcome-directed character. The account ofenvironmentally-decoupled cognitive activities as the product of intentionality plus a sharedpublic sign-system also recognises the kernel of truth in Fodors LOT: namely, that thought iscompositional.However, once the distinction between coupled and de-coupled representations has beenmade, it is also clear that Garfields argument against the latter as only derivativelyrepresentational’ only cuts ice in regards to sentential representations. By placing therepresentative burden on an external sign-system rather than on an internal LOT, hesuccessfully debunks mental representation, but he also skirts the mental imagery debateentirely: surely de-coupled activities like dreaming or imagining images are not sentential,and yet he does not suggest how these are to fit into his model. Are mental images products ofthe visual system or some central system?; are they allowed to be called representational?;are they compositional? Garfield leaves these important questions open.It is this authors hunch that Garfields anti- mental representationalist stance is too strong, andthat though both CTM and connectionism were wrong to suggest that all cognitive activity isrepresentational, there are many cognitive activities which are both non-sentential andrepresentational, like playing chess. Given this, it is more useful to think of the Clark/Garfieldapproach to mental representation as reminding us of some crucial distinctions betweencognitive activities. Interacting with the world is one thing; having a conversation another;45 J. Garfield, see n 29 above, p7 9
  10. 10. playing chess, something else again. If we choose to call one of these activitiesrepresentational it has to mean something; and that meaning should capture the fact thatsomething actually is re-presented. Dreaming, talking, thinking, and any manipulation ofabstract symbols which stand in for something else qualify. Simply doing something, thoughthe sensory modalities create cortical maps and images in the brain, seems somethingcompletely different.In conclusion, the answer to the question Do minds represent the world? is a convolutedyes, if the question refers to content rich de-coupled sentential representations. Although inthis case, the representation is derivative via the use of public language. If the question refersto a single system of mental representation which sub-serves all cognitive activitiesindiscriminately, then the answer is no.BibliographyBooks:Cain, M. Fodor (Polity, 2002 10
  11. 11. Chomsky N in his Review of Skinners Verbal Behaviour (1959)Churchland P The Engine of Reason, the Seat of the Soul (MIT Press, 1996)Damasio, A The Feeling of What Happens (Harcourt Brace, 1999)Fodor, J Concepts: where Cognitive Science Went Wrong (Clarendon Press, 1998)Guttenplan S. (ed) A Companion to the Philosophy of MindLoewer and Rey (eds) Meaning in Mind (Blackwell, 1991)Pinker, S. How the mind works (Softback Preview, 1998)Articles:Clark, A Embodiment and the Philosophy of Mind, in Phil 316Virtual Course bookGarfield, J. Intention: (Doing away with Mental representation),[]Garfield J. Lets pretend: the role of language in the acquisition of Theory of Mind,[]Web Encyclopedias:Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 11