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Title: From representations to practice : a critique of naturalized reason.
Author: Pinedo Garcia, Manuel de.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3490 8402
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 1999
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This thesis investigates an understanding of the relationship between mind and world which avoids defining the former as a naturalizable entity and the latter as identifiable with the world described by the natural sciences. I recommend paying closer attention to the notion of person and to our practical encounter with the world. I reject the idea of the world's having a given structure which is independent of our knowledge of it and, consequently, any conception of knowledge as a search for free-standing essences. I start by criticizing the project of naturalizing intentionality in general, and the content of mental states in particular. I focus on Fodor's language of thought and his explication of semantic relations as relations between individual mental representations and isolated features of the world. I argue that this sort of account leads to scepticism or to postulating pre-established harmony. An alternative, Davidsonian framework which highlights the interdependence of meaning and knowledge is explored. Following the Kantian line opened by McDowell, I propose pursuing Davidson's philosophy to its ultimate consequences and defend a non-foundationalist role for experience, oppose Davidson's inconsistent deferentialist attitude to physical processes, and suggest retaining the idea of mental causation by defining causation in terms of explanatory practices rather than laws. From this perspective minds cease to be bundles of mysterious internal states of organisms which need relating to tangible matter. Instead, sense is made of people's dealings with the world in terms of their interaction with each other, their ability to communicate, and the rationality and normativity which regulates their lives. I argue that it is only from this perspective that claims of knowledge can be made, and that attempts at reducing normativity to the supposedly descriptive stance of science eliminate the grounds for maintaining that such attempts should be taken as true or correct.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Knowledge; Fodor; Meaning; Mind; Communication