Our thoughts are meaningful. We think about things in the outside world; how can that be so? This is one of the deepest questions in contemporary philosophy. Ever since the 'cognitive revolution', states with meaning-mental representations-have been the key explanatory construct of the cognitive sciences. But there is still no widely accepted theory of how mental representations get their meaning. Powerful new methods in cognitive neuroscience can now reveal information processing in the brain in unprecedented detail. They show how the brain performs complex calculations on neural representations. Drawing on this cutting-edge research, Nicholas Shea uses a series of case studies from the cognitive sciences to develop a naturalistic account of the nature of mental representation. His approach is distinctive in focusing firmly on the 'subpersonal' representations that pervade so much of cognitive science. The diversity and depth of the case studies, illustrated by numerous figures, make this book unlike any previous treatment. It is important reading for philosophers of psychology and philosophers of mind, and of considerable interest to researchers throughout the cognitive sciences.
1 - Introduction 2 - Framework 3 - Functions for Representation 4 - Correlational Information 5 - Structural Correspondence 6 - Standard Objections 7 - Descriptive and Directive Representation 8 - How Content Explains
Nicholas Shea is Professor of Philosophy at the Institute of Philosophy, University of London and an associate member of the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford. He is an interdisciplinary philosopher of mind, and of psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and cognitive science. He went into philosophy after a brief career as an intellectual property barrister, following a degree in mathematics at Oxford. He completed his MA at Birkbeck and PhD at King's College London and worked as a postdoctoral then senior research fellow in Oxford before returning to London, firstly at King's and then at the Institute of Philosophy. As well as philosophical work on mental representation, inheritance systems, consciousness, and the metaphysics of mind, he has published in scientific journals in collaboration with psychologists, cognitive neuroscientists and biologists.
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