Mind and Reality

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A course at the University of Warwick.

Lecture 08

Date given: Wednesday 28th October 2020

This is the youtube page for Lecture 08. In case you prefer, I have also put a page with the videos on microsoft stream here. Or, if you prefer, you can see the slides with no audio or video here.

Mental States

When you say ‘Steve desires that Clark fly, you are attributing a mental state to me. We can think of mental states as having three basic components: the subject (you or me, say), the attitude (belief or desire, say) and the content (that Clark fly, or that Superman carry Ayesha).

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Sense and Reference: The Question

Introduces the question around which the sense and reference theme is organised.

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Sense: Frege’s Story

‘An object can be determined in different ways, and every one of these ways of determining it can give rise to a special name, and these different names have different senses’ (Frege, 1892 [1993] p. 44).

Reading (optional):

  • Frege, G. (1892 [1993]). On sense and reference. In Moore, A. W., editor, Meaning and Reference, pages 23–42. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Section 3.1.1 and the first paragraph of Section 3.2 of Zalta, Edward N., "Gottlob Frege", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Edward N. Zalta (ed.)

What Are Senses?

Sense is whatever it is that explains why the proposition Charly is Samantha can differ in informativeness from the proposition Charly is Charly.

Reading (optional):

  • Evans, G. (1981 [1985]). Understanding demonstratives. In McDowell, J., editor, Collected Papers, page 411. Clarendon Press, Oxford.
  • Campbell, J. (2011). Visual Attention and the Epistemic Role of Consciousness. In Mole, C., Smithies, D., and Wu, W., editors, Attention: Philosophical and Psychological Essays, page 323. Oxford University Press.

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Sense: Interim Conclusion

If you want to understand another’s point of view, it is not enough to know which things they are perceiving or thinking about; you also have to know how they are perceiving or thinking about those things. This is Frege’s brilliant insight. Following him, we are using the term ‘sense’ for a way of perceiving or thinking about a thing.