Functions Between Reasons and Causes: On Picturing

Johanna Seibt

in Empiricism, Perceptual Knowledge, Normativity, and Realism

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780199573301
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191722172 | DOI:

Series: Mind Association Occasional Series

Functions Between Reasons and Causes: On Picturing

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In ‘Empiricism of the Philosophical Mind’ (EPM) Sellars argues that mental contents as such cannot be caused, rejecting the empiricist notion of mental representation. In Sellars's view perceivers causally ‘picture’ their environment in perception: physical processes are causally correlated with the perceiver's neurophysiological processes that exhibit certain functional relationships and thus can be attributed content. This chapter argues that ‘picturing’, the link between the ‘causal order’ and the ‘logical space of reasons’, is best understood as non-linear processing in orientation systems with emergent levels of functionality and normativity. First, it is analyzed which process configurations ‘picture’, i.e., form an orientation system for agent navigation that does not involve predication. Second, it is discussed in which sense ‘pictured’ items can be said to be real, and Sellars's transcendental argument for scientific realism is briefly reconstructed. In conclusion, ‘picturing’ is related to recent work on natural functions and anti-representational accounts of cognition.

Keywords: Wilfrid Sellars; picturing; mental representation; function; normativity; perception; orientation; predication; realism

Chapter.  11404 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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