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吳瑞媛:The Logos of Mind

 

The Logos of Mind

Ruey-Yuan Wu

National Tsing-Hua University

 

Abstract

(2006/2/19)

 

One of the great lessons we learn from the contemporary philosophy of mind is that mental states have to be such as to make human knowledge possible. So, instead of emphasizing purely causal aspects of the mental, some major philosophers, such as Davidson, McDowell, and Peacocke, insist that mental states (at least propositional attitudes) are constituted by the principles of rationality, i.e., they are inherently rationally connected to each other. This is to ensure that the agent shall, in principle, be able to reach knowledge, if she is lucky enough to find herself under some favorable conditions. I call this conception of the mental "the rationalist conception of mind," in contrast to "a psychologist conception of mind," which expresses the view that mental states are essentially characterized by their causal features. In this paper, I try to explicate and defend a rationalist conception of mind in light of McDowell's philosophy, especially his ideas about the logical space of reasons. In the first part, I put forward seven theses about the space of reasons, explaining its constituents, its inhabitants, its boundary, its sovereignty, its debts, its identity or ontology, and also its accessibility to outsiders. In the second part, I illuminate what human mind must be if the space of reasons have all those features. If we accept McDowell's theses about the space of reasons, the rationalist theses about human mind are rather obvious. So, in the last part, I explore what is left for philosophers of mind to do. I suggest that our mental talk is to be constrained not only by epistemological considerations (concerning how human reason can reach its height), but also by considerations of irrationality (concerning how human reason may sink into an abyss). And I also suggest that McDowell's account of experience as both passive and concept-involving may prove to be quite indispensable in explaining irrationality. If the rationalist can make sense of both knowledge and irrationality, then what she is doing is not so much de-psychologizing the human mind, but giving back the natural geography to its built-in logos.

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