Article

Synthese

, Volume 150, Issue 2, pp 281-325

Representation and the First-Person Perspective

  • Nicholas GeorgalisAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, East Carolina Univertsity Email author 

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Abstract

The orthodox view in the study of representation is that a strictly third-person objective methodology must be employed. The acceptance of this methodology is shown to be a fundamental and debilitating error. Toward this end I defend what I call “the particularity requirement, ”discuss an important distinction between representers and information bearers, and identify what I call “the fundamental fact of representation” I argue that any theory of representation must accommodate these, but that any theory that also is based upon a strictly third-person methodology lacks the resources to provide for any of them. It is shown that this failure extends to teleological accounts of representation, despite appearances to the contrary. In the course of this, I argue for the acceptance of a methodological principle, methodological chauvinism, and I show how it implicates a restricted use of the first-person perspective in the study of representation. I explain a nonphenomenal first-person concept, minimal content, which I have introduced and defended more fully elsewhere, the features of which lead to the recognition of a unique intentional state that I call the fundamental intentional state. It is so called since “normal” intentional states presuppose it. Importantly, the logical structure of this state is different from all other intentional states. Lastly, I argue that the expanded methodology I adopt is neither unscientific nor anthropomorphic, despite its employment of a first-person perspective. Ironically, it is the exclusive use of third-person methodologies that leads to anthropomorphism in the study of representation.