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Naturalizing the mind - Fred Dretske

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Naturalizing the mind
Fred Dretske
The MIT Press
UK Publication Date

How can the baffling problems of phenomenal experience be accounted for? In this discourse Fred Dretske argues that to achieve an understanding of the mind it is not enough to understand the biological machinery by means of which the mind does its job. One must understand what the mind's job is and how this task can be performed by a physical system - the nervous system.;"Naturalizing the Mind" skilfully a representational theory of the qualitative, the phenomenal, the what-it-is-like aspects of the mind that have defied traditional forms of naturalism. Central to Dretske's approach is the claim that the phenomenal aspects of perceptual experiences are one and the same as external, real world properties that experience represents objects as having. Combined with an evolutionary account of sensory representation, the result is a completely naturalistic account of phenomenal consciousness.;Dretske's theory of naturalistic representationalism is an approach to the study of consciousness that can pin down the slippery first-person aspect of our sensory and affective life. It distinguishes, in wholly naturalistic terms, between what we experience (reality) and how we experience it (appearance). The theory establishes a framework within which subjectivity can be studied objectively, explains the peculiar authority we enjoy about our own mental states, and provides a biologically plausible answer to questions about the function or purpose of consciousness.;In the first four chapters (the original Jean Nicod Lectures), Dretske focuses on what naturalistic representationalism reveals about introspective knowledge, intentionality, qualia, inverted spectra, the biological function of conscious experience, and the possibility of knowing what alien experiences are like. Chapter five addresses anticipated philosophical objections to the theory.

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Keyword Index
Philosophy of mind.
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