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Title:Re-examining the Cartesian mind: Dispelling a myth
Author(s):Kendrick, Nancy Ellen
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Akins, Kathleen
Department / Program:Philosophy
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:Many contemporary philosophers of mind regard the Cartesian theory of the mental as the major stumbling block to any viable theory of either mental representation or consciousness. Accordingly, they take part of their task to be the undoing of the Cartesianism that infects our thinking about the mental. In The Concept of Mind, for example, Ryle portrayed Descartes as positing a nonphysical "place" where mental events and processes resided. Psychological states were taken to be private, internal objects to which we had access by a special kind of perceptual process, namely, introspection. Following Ryle, Dennett and Kenny see the Cartesian view as the primary obstacle to a correct understanding of the nature of mind. They, too, regard Descartes as committed to a model of internal perception. Furthermore, most contemporary philosophers take the Cartesian view to engender an inappropriate dichotomy between the content and the quality of perceptual states.
I argue that this view of the Cartesian mind, both as a place for the inner viewing of nonmaterial private objects and as housing nonintentional "raw feels"--that is, the point of departure for most contemporary theories of mind--is mistaken. While Descartes did think a nonmaterial mind was necessary to account for the occurrence of psychological states, he did not think that any process akin to inner perception was required to account for the occurrence of these states. Nor did he view sensations and perceptions as nonintentional "raw feels."
Issue Date:1994
Rights Information:Copyright 1994 Kendrick, Nancy Ellen
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9512424
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9512424

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