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Thought without Illusion

Aasen, S; (2014) Thought without Illusion. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis targets the part of Gareth Evans’s and John McDowell’s view of singular thought which involves the claim that there can be illusions of thought. Singular thought is, according to Evans and McDowell, an object-dependent thought-content; such thought-content could not be entertained unless the object it is about exists. Nevertheless, in a case of perceptual hallucination, where a subject mistakenly takes it that there is an object in front of him or her, Evans and McDowell think that it can seem to a subject exactly as though he or she is having an object-dependent thought, although the subject is in fact not thinking at all due to the absence of any object to think about. The thesis argues for a rejection of this idea of illusions of object-dependent thought. It is further argued that the idea of illusions of thought can be eliminated from Evans’s and McDowell’s view without abandoning their fundamental insight about how singular thought-content is object-dependent. Following specifically McDowell’s development of the view, it is suggested that singular thought is about the world in virtue of how things cognitively appear to the subject. It is suggested that in an alleged case of illusion of thought, the subject has an object-dependent thought about an object whose existence in part is due to the mind’s directedness in that very episode of singular thinking. Furthermore, Evans’s and McDowell’s respective views of acquaintance are criticised, and an idea about acquaintance as awareness of a wider range of objects than just perceivable objects is put forward. In general, the thesis outlines a revised version of Evans’s and McDowell’s view, a version according to which singular thought, although externalistically individuated, is transparent to the thinker.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Thought without Illusion
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: Singular thought, Object-dependence, Intentionality, Disjunctivism, Gareth Evans, John McDowell, Acquaintance, Mock thought, Hallucination, Illusion
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1459420
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