Aspects of Psychologism

Aspects of Psychologism

Tim Crane
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Harvard University Press
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    Aspects of Psychologism
    Book Description:

    Aspects of Psychologismis a penetrating look into fundamental philosophical questions of consciousness, perception, and the experience we have of our mental lives. Psychologism, in Tim Crane's formulation, presents the mind as a single subject-matter to be investigated not only empirically and conceptually but also phenomenologically: through the systematic examination of consciousness and thought from the subject's point of view. How should we think about the mind? Analytical philosophy tends to address this question by examining the language we use to talk about our minds, and thus translates our knowledge of consciousness into knowledge of the concepts which this language embodies. Psychologism rejects this approach. The philosophy of mind, Crane contends, has become too narrow in its purely conceptual focus on the logical and linguistic formulas that structure thought. We cannot assume that the categories needed to understand the mind correspond absolutely with such semantic categories. Crane's claim is that intentionality--the "aboutness" or "directedness" of the mind--is essential to all mental phenomena. He criticizes materialist doctrines about consciousness and defends the position that perception can represent the world in a non-conceptual, non-propositional way, opening up philosophy to a more realistic account of the mind's nature.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-72658-1
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xvi)
  4. ESSAY ONE Introduction: In Defence of Psychologism (2012)
    (pp. 1-20)

    The term ‘psychologism’ is normally used for the doctrine that logical and mathematical truths must be explained in terms of psychological truths (see Kusch 1995 and 2011). As such, the term is typically pejorative: the widespread consensus is that psychologism in this sense is a paradigm of philosophical error, a gross mistake that was identified and conclusively refuted by Frege and Husserl.

    The consensus is surely correct: there is no future in defending psychologism about logic and mathematics. But as the above remark by Stanley Cavell indicates, ‘psychologism’ and ‘psychologizing’ have been used in a broader way too, to describe...

  5. I Historical Essays
    • [I Introduction]
      (pp. 21-24)

      Franz Brentano is rightly acknowledged as the philosopher who brought the Scholastic terminology of intentionality back into the philosophical limelight with the publication of hisPsychology from an Empirical Standpointin 1874. But it is important to emphasise that it was the terminology (and some of its connotations) that he brought back, not the very idea of intentionality itself. The idea of thoughts ‘having objects’ was not abandoned with the decline of Scholasticism in the early modern era. Some examples: Descartes’s discussion of the ‘objective reality’ of ideas in his thirdMeditation, Locke’s theory of ideas, and Kant’s theory of...

    • ESSAY TWO Brentano’s Concept of Intentional Inexistence (2006)
      (pp. 25-39)

      Franz brentano’s attempt to distinguish mental from physical phenomena by employing the scholastic concept ofintentional inexistenceis often cited as re-introducing the concept of intentionality into mainstream philosophical discussion. But Brentano’s own claims about intentional inexistence are much misunderstood. In the second half of the twentieth century, analytical philosophers in particular have misread Brentano’s views in misleading ways.¹ It is important to correct these misunderstandings if we are to come to a proper assessment of Brentano’s worth as a philosopher and his position in the history of philosophy. Good corrections have been made in the recent analytic literature by...

    • ESSAY THREE Wittgenstein and Intentionality (2010)
      (pp. 40-60)

      The concept of intentionality—what Brentano called ‘the mind’s direction on its objects’—has been a preoccupation of many of the most significant twentieth century philosophers. The purpose of this essay is to examine the place of the concept of intentionality in Wittgenstein’s later philosophy, and to criticize one aspect of his treatment of intentionality.

      Although the word ‘intentionality’ is not (to my knowledge) used in the English translations of Wittgenstein’s philosophical writings, the idea it expresses was central at all stages of his philosophical development. This should be obvious on a little reflection, not least because the philosophical notion...

    • ESSAY FOUR The Origins of Qualia (2000)
      (pp. 61-86)

      The mind-body problem in contemporary philosophy has two parts: the problem of mental causation and the problem of consciousness. These two parts are not unrelated; in fact, it can be helpful to see them as two horns of a dilemma. On theone hand, the causal interaction between mental and physical phenomena seems to require that all causally efficacious mental phenomena are physical; but on the other hand, the phenomenon of consciousness seems to entail that not all mental phenomena are physical.¹ One may avoid this dilemma by adopting an epiphenomenalist view of consciousness, of course; but there is little independent...

  6. II Intentionality
    • [II Introduction]
      (pp. 87-90)

      Psychologism, as I use the term, is the view that the mental is a self-standing part of reality, which can be investigated phenomenologically and empirically, as well as conceptually. What makes this part of realitymentalis its defining characteristic, which I identify as intentionality. The view that intentionality is the defining characteristic of the mental is known asintentionalism.

      Intentionality is variously described as the ‘aboutness’ or ‘directedness’ of the mental, or as mental representation. Some influential twentieth century philosophers identified the topic of intentionality by first identifying a particular kind of discourse with particular logical or semantic properties...

    • ESSAY FIVE Intentionality as the Mark of the Mental (1998)
      (pp. 91-110)

      ‘It is of the very nature of consciousness to be intentional’ said Jean-Paul Sartre, ‘and a consciousness that ceases to be a consciousness of something wouldipso factocease to exist’.¹ Sartre here endorses the central doctrine of Husserl’s phenomenology, itself inspired by a famous idea of Brentano’s: that intentionality, the mind’s ‘direction upon its objects’, is what is distinctive of mental phenomena. Brentano’s originality does not lie in pointing out the existence of intentionality, or in inventing the terminology, which derives from scholastic discussions of concepts orintentiones.² Rather, his originality consists in his claim that the concept of...

    • ESSAY SIX Intentional Objects (2001)
      (pp. 111-123)

      Is there, or should there be, any place in contemporary philosophy of mind for the concept of an intentional object? Many philosophers would make short work of this question. In a discussion of what intentional objects are supposed to be, John Searle’s answer to our question is brisk and dismissive:

      an Intentional object is just an object like any other; it has no peculiar ontological status at all. To call something an Intentional object is just to say that it is what some intentional state is about. Thus, for example, if Bill admires President Carter, then the Intentional object of...

    • ESSAY SEVEN The Intentional Structure of Consciousness (2003)
      (pp. 124-148)

      Newcomers to the philosophy of mind are sometimes resistant to the idea that pain is a mental state. If asked to defend their view, they might say something like this: pain is a physical state, it is a state of the body. A pain in one’s leg feels to be in the leg, not ‘in the mind’. After all, sometimes people distinguish pain which is ‘all in the mind’ from a genuine pain, sometimes because the second is ‘physical’ while the first is not. And we also occasionally distinguish mental pain (which is normally understood as some kind of emotional...

    • ESSAY EIGHT Intentionalism (2009)
      (pp. 149-170)

      The central and defining characteristic of thoughts is that they have objects. The object of a thought is what the thought concerns, or what it is about. Since there cannot be thoughts which are not about anything, or which do not concern anything, there cannot be thoughts without objects. Mental states or events or processes which have objects in this sense are traditionally called ‘intentional,’ and ‘intentionality’ is for this reason the general term for this defining characteristic of thought.

      Under the heading of ‘thought’ we can include many different kinds of mental apprehension of an object—including relatively temporary...

  7. III Perception
    • [III Introduction]
      (pp. 171-174)

      Two assumptions have become dominant in the philosophy of perception since it rose from the ashes of ordinary language philosophy in the 1990s: one is that the intentional content of perception is propositional, the other that this content is conceptual. In some of my writings on perception, I have challenged these assumptions.

      Essays 11 and 12 criticise the idea that perception is a propositional attitude. As mentioned in the Preface, we do talk about perception as if it were a propositional attitude, and we also talk as if it were a simple relation between perceiver and object. Dretske’s pioneering study...

    • ESSAY NINE The Non-conceptual Content of Experience (1992)
      (pp. 175-195)

      To what extent do our beliefs about the world affect what we see? Our beliefs certainly affect where we choose to look, but do they affect what we see when we look there?

      Some have claimed that people with very different beliefs literally see the world differently. Thus Thomas Kuhn: ‘what a man sees depends both upon what he looks at and also upon what his previous visual-conceptual experience has taught him to see’ (Kuhn 1970: 113). This view—call it ‘Perceptual Relativism’—entails that a scientist and a child may look at a cathode ray tube and, in a...

    • ESSAY TEN Is There a Perceptual Relation? (2006)
      (pp. 196-216)

      P. F. Strawson argued that ‘mature sensible experience (in general) presents itself as… animmediateconsciousness of the existence of things outside us’ (1979: 97). He began his defence of this very natural idea by asking how someone might typically give a description of their current visual experience, and offered this example of such a description: ‘I see the red light of the setting sun filtering through the black and thickly clustered branches of the elms; I see the dappled deer grazing in groups on the vivid green grass …’ (1979: 97). In other words, in describing experience, we tend...

    • ESSAY ELEVEN Is Perception a Propositional Attitude? (2009)
      (pp. 217-234)

      It has for a long time been noted by philosophers that we talk about our perceptual experiences in a number of different ways.¹ Sometimes we describe our experiences using perceptual verbs with sentential complements, as when we say thatsomeone can see (or hear) that the bus has arrived. On other occasions we use transitive perceptual verbs whose direct objects are given by noun phrases, as when we say that someone saw (or heard) the bus, or saw (or heard) the arrival of the bus; sometimes what is perceived is given by so-called small clauses, as when we say that someone...

    • ESSAY TWELVE The Given (2012)
      (pp. 235-256)

      InThe Mind and the World Order, C. I. Lewis made a famous distinction between the immediate data ‘which are presented or given to the mind’ and the ‘construction or interpretation’ which the mind brings to those data (1929: 52). What the mind receives is the datum—literally, the given—and the interpretation is what happens when we being it ‘under some category or other, select from it, emphasise aspects of it, and relate it in particular and unavoidable ways’ (1929: 52). So although any attempt to describe the given will inevitably be an interpretation of it, this should not...

  8. IV Consciousness
    • [IV Introduction]
      (pp. 257-260)

      The essays here do not present a systematic treatment of the problems of consciousness and the mind-body problem. Instead they engage with some specific debates which have dominated recent discussions of consciousness, identifying in each case some assumption which is an obstacle to a proper understanding of the phenomenology of consciousness. Some of these assumptions I like to identify now as anti-psychologistic.

      I have written about physicalism and the mind-body problem elsewhere (see for example Crane 2001: Chapter 2). But I should perhaps say explicitly that psychologism, as I conceive of it, is neutral on the question of physicalism. Psychologism...

    • ESSAY THIRTEEN Unconscious Belief and Conscious Thought (2012)
      (pp. 261-280)

      We call our thoughts conscious, and we also say the same of our bodily sensations, perceptions, and other sensory experiences. But thoughts and sensory experiences are very different phenomena, both from the point of view of their subject and in their functional or cognitive role. Does this mean, then, that there are very different kinds or varieties of consciousness? Philosophers do often talk about different kinds of consciousness: Christopher Hill, for example, claims that ‘it is customary to distinguish five forms of consciousness’ (Hill 2009: 1). These are:agentconsciousness,propositionalconsciousness,introspectiveconsciousness,relationalconsciousness, andphenomenalconsciousness; to...

    • ESSAY FOURTEEN Subjective Facts (2003)
      (pp. 281-297)

      An important theme running through D. H. Mellor’s work is his realism, or as I shall call it, hisobjectivism:the idea that reality as such is how it is, regardless of the way we represent it, and that philosophical error often arises from confusing aspects of our subjective representation of the world with aspects of the world itself. Thus, central to Mellor’s work on time has been the claim that the temporal A-series (previously called ‘tense’) is unreal while the B-series (the series of ‘dates’) is real. The A-series is something which is a product of our representation of...

    • ESSAY FIFTEEN Papineau on Phenomenal Concepts (2005)
      (pp. 298-306)

      Over the past decade or so, David Papineau has given an account of the content and motivation of a physicalist conception of the world with more thoroughness and argumentative defence than many physicalists have thought necessary. In doing this, he has substantially advanced the debate on physicalism, and physicalists and non-physicalists alike should be grateful to him.¹ At the heart of Papineau’s defence of physicalism in his recent book (2002) is his theory of phenomenal concepts. Like many physicalists, Papineau diagnoses the apparent threats to physicalism posed by the phenomena of consciousness by locating the source of anti-physicalist intuitions in...

    • ESSAY SIXTEEN Tye on Acquaintance and the Problem of Consciousness (2012)
      (pp. 307-316)

      Michael Tye’s book (2009b) has two main themes: (i) the rejection of the ‘phenomenal concept strategy’ as a solution to the problems of consciousness for physicalism, and (ii) a new proposed solution to these problems which appeals to Russell’s (1910–1911) distinction between knowledge by acquaintance and knowledge by description. Interweaved between these two main themes are a number of radical new claims about perceptual consciousness, including a defence of a sort of disjunctivism about perceptual content and an interesting account of the phenomena of change blindness and inattentional blindness. Tye’s book shows all his usual philosophical virtues: it is...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 317-344)
  10. References
    (pp. 345-362)
  11. Credits
    (pp. 363-364)
  12. Index
    (pp. 365-368)