Anne Jaap Jacobson

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Some theorists in the cognitive sciences argue that the sciences of the mind don’t need or use a concept of mental representation. In her new book, Keeping the World in Mind: Mental Representations and the Science of the Mind (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), Anne Jaap Jacobson, Professor of Philosophy and Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Houston, argues that what is needed is a different kind of theory of what mental representations are, one that reflects the way the notion of representation is actually used in cognitive neuroscience. On her view, mental items do not stand in intentional relations to the world, as standard theories of mental representation hold. Instead, they are samples or instances of the same kinds, as captured by common mathematical descriptions. This sampling model has its roots in Aristotle and Hume, but is found in contemporary neuroscience, such as when seeing a particular action causes the neural pattern for doing that action to be activated. In this interview, Jacobson explains and expands on her view, which she dubs Aristotelian representation.

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