representationalism
(or representationism )
Generally the doctrine that the mind (or sometimes the brain) works on representations of the things and features of things that we perceive or think about. In the philosophy of perception the view is especially associated with Malebranche and Locke, who, holding that the mind is the container for ideas, held that ‘of our real ideas, some are adequate, and some are inadequate. Those I call adequate, which perfectly represent those archetypes which the mind supposes them taken from; which it intends them to stand for, and to which it refers them’ (Locke, Essay, ii. 31). The problems in this account were mercilessly exposed by Arnauld and Foucher, writing against Malebranche, and by Berkeley writing against Locke. The fundamental problem is that the mind is ‘supposing’ its ideas to represent something else, but it has no access to this something else except by forming another idea. The difficulty is to understand how the mind ever escapes from the world of representations, or, in other words, how representations manage to acquire genuine content, pointing beyond themselves. In more recent philosophy, the analogy between the mind and a computer has suggested that the mind or brain manipulates symbols, thought of as like the instructions in a machine program, and that those symbols are representations of aspects of the world. The Berkeleyan difficulty then recurs. The programmed computer behaves the same way without knowing whether the sign ‘$’ refers to a unit of currency or anything else. The elements of a machine program are identified purely syntactically, so the actual operations of the system go on without any reference to any interpretation of them (see syntax ). Hence, according to critics, there is no way, on this model, for seeing the mind as concerned with the representational properties of the symbols. The point is sometimes put by saying that the mind, on this theory, becomes a syntactic engine rather than a semantic engine.

Philosophy dictionary. . 2011.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • representationalism — [rep΄ri zen tā′shə nəl iz΄əm] n. 1. the theory or practice of representational art 2. Philos. the theory that the mind apprehends external objects only through the medium of percepts or ideas: distinguished from PRESENTATIONISM… …   English World dictionary

  • representationalism — noun Date: 1842 1. the doctrine that the immediate object of knowledge is an idea in the mind distinct from the external object which is the occasion of perception 2. the theory or practice of realistic representation in art • representationalist …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • representationalism — representationalist, n. representationalistic, adj. /rep ri zen tay sheuh nl iz euhm, zeuhn /, n. 1. Also called representative realism. Epistemology. the view that the objects of perception are ideas or sense data that represent external objects …   Universalium

  • representationalism — noun a) The belief that the conscious perception of the world is actually an internal replica of the world of the mind of the beholder. b) Realistic representation of the world in art. Syn: internal perception, indirect realism, epistemological… …   Wiktionary

  • representationalism — See Saussure, Ferdinand de …   Dictionary of sociology

  • representationalism — doctrine that ideas rather than external objects are basis of knowledge Philosophical Isms …   Phrontistery dictionary

  • representationalism — n. artistic movement that supports the representation of objects in a realistic manner as they appear to the eye …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Representationalism — A philosophical concept that states that we do not (and can not) perceive the external world directly; instead we know only our ideas or interpretations of objects in the world. Thus, a barrier or a veil of perception prevents first hand… …   Mini philosophy glossary

  • representationalism — [ˌrɛprɪzɛn teɪʃ(ə)n(ə)lɪz(ə)m] noun 1》 the practice or advocacy of representational art. 2》 Philosophy another term for representationism. Derivatives representationalist adjective &noun …   English new terms dictionary

  • representationalism — rep·re·sen·ta·tion·al·ism …   English syllables

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