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Unshadowed Thought: Representation in Thought and Language

Unshadowed Thought: Representation in Thought and Language

by Charles TravisCharles Travis


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This book mounts a sustained attack on ideas that are dear to many practitioners of analytic philosophy. Charles Travis targets the seductive illusion that—in Wittgenstein’s terms—“if anyone utters a sentence and means or understands it, he is operating a calculus according to definite rules.” This book rejects the idea that thoughts are essentially representational items whose content is independent of context. In doing so, it undermines the foundations of much contemporary philosophy of mind.

Travis’s main argument in Unshadowed Thought is that linguistic expressions and forms are occasion-sensitive; they cannot be abstracted out of a concrete context. With compelling examples and a thoroughgoing scrutiny of opposing positions, his book systematically works out the implications of the work of J. L. Austin, Hilary Putnam, and John McDowell. Eloquently insisting that there is no particular way one must structure what one relates to, no one way one must represent it, Unshadowed Thought identifies and resists a certain strain of semantic Platonism that permeates current philosophy—a strain that has had profoundly troubling consequences for our ideas about attitudes and beliefs and for our views about what language might be.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674003392
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 01/29/2001
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Charles Travis is Professor Emeritus at King’s College London and Professor Afiliado at the Universidade do Porto.

Table of Contents


I. Shadows

1. A Terminological Interlude: Understandings

2. The Word-like Face of Shadows

3. The World-like Face of Shadows

4. Platonism

5. Essential Structure

6. Surrogates

7. Antiplatonism

8. Understandings Again

II. Thoughts and Talk

1. On Representing

2. Disambiguations

3. Sinn

4. On Representing Differently

5. Subjects and Predicates

III. Thoughts and Attitudes

1. What Thoughts Might Be

2. Equivalences

3. Approximatism

4. A Problem to Solve?

5. Alternatives

IV. Thoughts and Inference

1. A Role for Thoughts in Inference

2. What Logic Is About

3. Thoughts, Consequences, and Ways for Things to Be

V. Abilities to Think Things

1. Counting Thoughts

2. A Role for Abilities

3. Abilities

4. Plasticity

5. Generalizing

VI. Things to Think About

1. Properties and Truth

2. Ways for Things to Be

3. Structuring the Ways Things Are

4. Saying, and Thinking, the Same

VII. Thinking Things

1. Thinking-So

2. Classifying Attitudes

3. Epistemology

4. Surrogates Revisited

5. Thoughts

6. Thoughts and Sense

7. Mentioning Thoughts

8. Conclusion

VIII. Opacity, System, and Cause

1. Opacity

2. Are Attitude Ascriptions Opaque?

3. System

4. System Failures

5. Cause

IX. Situated Representing

1. Meaning and Shadows

2. Familiar Forms

3. Ordinary Practice

4. Scientism

5. Using Words

6. Meaning's Role

X. Truth and Sense

1. Truth

2. Correspondence

3. A Sensible Notion of Sense

4. Sense and Things

5. Sense and World

6. Circumstance



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