Hesperus is Bosphorus

A group blog by philosophers in and from Turkey

Philosophy/Cog-Sci talk at Boğaziçi: Jonathan Knowles (NTNU) “Anti-representationalism about thought and about perception” (05/05/2016)

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Jonathan Knowles (Norwegian University of Science and Technology) will give a talk this Thursday (05/05/2016) at Boğaziçi University from 5-7pm in TB130, on “Anti-representationalism about thought and about perception”. Everyone Welcome.


ABSTRACT:  The term ‘anti-representationalism’ and its counterpart ‘representationalism’ are used in a variety of different contexts in contemporary philosophical discussion. In this largely exploratory talk I will try to relate three of these different contexts to one another and sketch a more overarching anti-representationalist theory that draws on elements from each, hopefully thereby increasing the credibility of anti-representationalism both at local and global levels (so to speak). I take as my starting point the neo-pragmatist anti-representationalism associated especially with Richard Rorty and Huw Price. According to this (‘anti-representationalism about thought’, or ART) thoughts are not to be understood in terms of substantive relations of reference or truth to reality, an idea which is also meant to undermine many of the traditional metaphysical and epistemological concerns of philosophy.  Following Price’s lead, I will nevertheless pursue the question whether ART can be vindicated in a naturalistic setting. To this send, I first consider the representationalist versus anti-representationalist debate in cognitive science, suggesting that ART is not  inconsistent with either camp, though more naturally gels with the latter (ARCS). I then also consider a final debate where the distinction has been used, namely that about the nature of perception and perceptual experience. Here I suggest ART is in serious tension with representationalism about perception (since this involves, in Burge’s terms, a ‘non-deflationary’ conception of content), and consider different forms of anti-representationalist accounts that might instead be allied to it (i.e. of ARP). I argue however that neither the official neo-pragmatist nor recent so-called naïve realist accounts of perception are satisfactory to this end. I end with suggesting that a variant of enactivism ­– a form of both ARCS and ARP ­– can be seen as a more promising bed-fellow for ART and indeed as also standing to benefit from its alliance with the latter.

This talk is organised as part of Lucas Thorpe‘s TÜBİTAK project “Concepts and Beliefs: From Perception to Action” ( 114K348).



Written by Lucas Thorpe

May 1, 2016 at 9:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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