Mental Action: A Case Study

Alfred Mele

in Mental Actions

Published in print June 2009 | ISBN: 9780199225989
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191710339 | DOI:
Mental Action: A Case Study

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This chapter argues that a proper understanding of the difference between trying to do something and trying to bring it about that one does it sheds light on the nature of mental action. For example, even if one cannot, strictly speaking, try to think of seven animal names that begin with ‘g’, one can try to bring it about that one thinks of seven such names, and one can succeed. In some versions of this scenario, one's successful attempt involves no overt actions but several mental ones: for example, keeping one's attention focused on the task, silently keeping a running account of the ‘g’ names that occurred to one, and bringing it about that one thinks of seven suitable names.

Keywords: action; attention; mental action; overt action; thinking; trying

Chapter.  10914 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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