The Dennes Room

Event Detail

Thu Apr 16, 2015
Howison Library, 4–6 PM
George Myro Memorial Lecture
Tim Crane (Cambridge)
Thinking and Believing

In his paper, ‘Thinking’, published in 1993, George Myro claimed that he found plausible ‘the view that thinking is … standing in a certain special consciousness-relation to something like a state of affairs or a proposition’. He added: ‘I do not for a moment regard this as perfectly clear’. Many philosophers today share this view of what thinking and other ‘propositional attitudes’ are; but I share Myro’s view that it is not perfectly clear. In this talk I will attempt to shed some light on this idea by contrasting conscious episodes like thinking, with unconscious states like believing. I will make three claims. First, that the propositions which are the relata of propositional attitudes should be thought of as theoretical tools which aim to model a subject’s unconscious beliefs and other attitudes (which I call the subject’s ‘world view’). Second, I argue that the content of an unconscious world view can be incomplete, indeterminate, unspecific, contradictory and confused; and one function of conscious thought is to make aspects of the subject’s world view explicit and determinate. Finally, I claim that conscious mental states do not just have propositional content in this semantic (or ‘modelling’) sense, but they also have what I call content in the phenomenal or phenomenological sense.