The tripartite model of representation

Philosophical Psychology 15 (3):239-270 (2002)
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Abstract

Robert Cummins [(1996) Representations, targets and attitudes, Cambridge, MA: Bradford/MIT, p. 1] has characterized the vexed problem of mental representation as "the topic in the philosophy of mind for some time now." This remark is something of an understatement. The same topic was central to the famous controversy between Nicolas Malebranche and Antoine Arnauld in the 17th century and remained central to the entire philosophical tradition of "ideas" in the writings of Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Reid and Kant. However, the scholarly, exegetical literature has almost no overlap with that of contemporary cognitive science. I show that the recurrence of certain deep perplexities about the mind is a systematic and pervasive pattern arising not only throughout history, but also in a number of independent domains today such as debates over visual imagery, symbolic systems and others. Such historical and contemporary convergences suggest that the fundamental issues cannot arise essentially from the theoretical guise they take in any particular case

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Peter Slezak
University of New South Wales

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