God Here and Now: Volume 39 (Routledge Classics)
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Since propositional representations play less of a role than most philosophers think, there is no principled reason why one cannot ascribe non-propositional thoughts to some of the higher animals. One correctly says that the dog barking up the tree, where it has just chased the squirrel, believes the squirrel is up the tree. Malcolm issues an important qualification. Though it is wrong to identify thoughts with their linguistic expression, it is also wrong that creatures without language can have thoughts.
We can meaningfully say of a person that they have thoughts to which they never give expression only because they participate in a language in which there is an institution of testifying to previously unexpressed thoughts , Since dogs do not speak a human language, how, then, can one assign such thoughts to them? Malcolm holds that some higher animals participate in human language to a sufficient degree that one can attribute some thoughts to them by analogy.
There is a squirrel and a rabbit in the field. Rover is told to get the rabbit, whereupon Rover chases the rabbit and ignores the squirrel. Rover must display regular patterns of such linguistically sensitive behaviour. Dogs are not full-blown members of our linguistic community, but they participate in our linguistic practices sufficiently to justify ascriptions of thoughts, beliefs, and desires to them by analogy.
They behave much as we do in response to some relatively simple human linguistic behaviour. Davidson , 97 objects that one cannot say what precisely the dog is supposed to believe. Suppose the tree in question is an oak tree. Does the dog believe the squirrel went up the oak tree?
However, Malcolm does not hold that it is correct to say that the dog believes the proposition that the squirrel is up the tree let alone that the dog believes that the proposition that the squirrel is up the tree is true. Recall that Malcolm holds that Descartes overestimates the role of propositional representations in human life.
Malcolm holds that many human beliefs described by logicians as beliefs-that that is, propositional beliefs are really non-propositional. When a dog believes the squirrel is up the tree, its belief resembles human non-propositional beliefs which are more common than many philosophers think. Philosophers and psychologists have, alas, tended to over-intellectualize not just animal mind and behaviour, but also human mind and behaviour.
While a personal or perceptual memory always entails some factual memory, there can be factual memories that do not entail any perceptual or personal memory.
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There could be a people who lacked perceptual memory altogether but had normal factual memories, but there could not be a creature that we would recognize as human who completely lacked factual memory. The view found in accounts of the memory mechanism that there must be a representation that plays a causal role in remembering is unjustified.
Malcolm begins his Memory and Mind by contrasting his earlier views on memory with those in this book. Malcolm begins Part I by arguing against the common view tracing to Aristotle that memory is always of the past , This memory causal process, in both its mental and physical forms, is analogous to the functioning of a computer. Although the computer model is a physical model, something analogous occurs in the account of the mental memory mechanism.
In the mental mechanism, each of these physical items is replaced by a corresponding mental item. Typing of data into the computer is replaced by something like a perception. The alterations in the internal physical state of the computer are replaced by alterations in the mental state of the organism.
God Here and Now: Volume 39 (Routledge Classics)
The physical output, the words on the computer display, is replaced by some kind of mental state like thinking of the relevant fact. Although this picture, illustrated by the computer model, seems straightforward, Malcolm argues that in both its mental and its physical forms, it involves certain disguised and unintelligible metaphysical ideas , In order for the representation to do its job, it must be intrinsically and unambiguously connected with what it represents , 56, , The account of this intrinsic connection appeals to the view that the structure of the memory must stand in a one-to-one correspondence with the structure of what is remembered , , , In the case of the mental memory mechanism, this condition is often satisfied by the view that the memory is some kind of image of what is remembered , , Since an image resembles what it represents, one can, in principle, introspect the connection between the memory-image and what is remembered.
Whereas the mental representations often appeal to these conscious features of the representation, the physical memory mechanism is designed to explain how memory responses are caused , Even so, there is a considerable similarity between the accounts of the mental and the physical memory mechanisms.
The same idea found in the account of the mental memory mechanism reappears in a new form in the account of the physical memory mechanism.
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The physical trace must have the same structure as what is remembered , Crito perceives Socrates snub nose at t 1. The fact that brain traces, like impressions in a wax tablet, degrade over time explains why some memories are more accurate than others. The underlying idea, both in the theories of the mental and the physical memory mechanisms, are the same. Both hold that the memory must be isomorphic with what is remembered.
It does not. What it does do is provide the logical schema of a kind of account of language representation, picturing , which is presupposed in the mental and the physical accounts of the memory mechanism.
Malcolm argues that, as Wittgenstein shows in his later works, the Tractatus account of this logical schema is wrong. The accounts of how the mental memory image or copy and the account of how the physical memory brain trace are intrinsically and unambiguously connected with what they are representations of require that the structures of the memory and of what is remembered stand in a one-to-one correspondence with each other.
However, this can only work if one can appeal to the absolute structure of the relevant items—but the idea of the absolute structure of something makes no sense , , In order to speak of a correlation between the structure of Xs and Ys, one requires a key of interpretation that identifies the elements of Xs and Ys.
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The fundamental question then is whether it is possible to construct a key correlating neural elements whatever they are with elements of experience memories, perceptions, and so forth. Malcolm argues that it is a conceptual point that no such satisfactory key can possibly be produced , Malcolm focuses on the question whether it makes conceptual sense to identify the elements of a simple experience like wanting to catch the bus.
There is no essence to wanting to catch the bus that then might be divided into elements by some key in order to be correlated with the relevant neural items. Why, then, do we think there is such an essence?
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One sees no difficulty correlating neural states with those elements. Why, therefore, would there be any difficulty correlating neural elements with what is meant by those words? However, the complete range of activities that could constitute wanting to catch the bus cannot be specified , Since there is no possibility of isolating the essence of that experience, there is no possibility of identifying the elements of that essence that are suitable for correlation with neural states. The key condition for providing an account of the memory mechanism is unintelligible.
It is, therefore, a conceptual truth that there is no possible key for establishing such correlations. They are:. The tenth chapter considers the ideas of a psychophysical parallelism and mind-brain identity. Malcolm identifies the core thesis of the Tractatus in Chapter 1 as the view that the world has a fixed unalterable form determined by the set of indestructible simple objects.
The first three chapters critique these theses with arguments familiar from Memory and Mind. It makes no sense to speak of the absolute unalterable form or essence of the world because ascriptions of structure and of simplicity presuppose a key of interpretation that determines what is to count as a form or structure or simplicity—making them relative to a key. Whereas Winch sees the Tractatus primarily as a work in linguistic analysis, Malcolm sees its metaphysics as primary. In Chapter 4, Malcolm goes against much conventional wisdom and argues that Tractatus thoughts are not just abstract entities but are psychical.
His five main theses are:. He again goes against the conventional wisdom that what shows the sense of a proposition is its syntactical features or its use and argues instead that what primarily shows its sense are psychical thoughts. Unlike physical signs, which always admit of alternative interpretations, psychical thoughts have the unique ability to show what they mean without interpretation.
To reconcile these conflicting assertions, Malcolm distinguishes between the processes of analysis everyday people use, which take place mostly unconsciously when they understand a sentence, and the processes of analysis that philosophers employ when they attempt to represent perspicaciously the real logical structure of a proposition , When Ann says that the South Sea Islands are enchanting, Ann, the ordinary person, understands immediately. However, Ann is also a philosopher, and, in that capacity, might work a lifetime without success to provide a complete perspicacious representation of the analysed sense of that one proposition.
Thus, language disguises thought from the philosopher but not from the everyday person. Ordinary language, for the everyday person, is in perfect logical order. A 1,pound grizzly bear explodes from the bushes and heads straight for a group of elderly tourists. They just run. The source of the confusion is that in ordinary life, we often say that our inner thoughts are hidden from everybody else. Once again, Descartes over-intellectualizes the phenomenon of certainty, and his solipsistic method of radical doubt is an illusion.
Despite this, Malcolm admits that Wittgenstein is a sceptic in a certain sense. Since Malcolm passed away while writing his final book, Wittgenstein: From a Religious Point of View , the final draft was edited into the published form by Peter Winch, who also contributed a lengthy critical essay to the book.
First, in philosophy, as in religion, explanations come to an end somewhere. For example, Malcolm a, argues that, whereas Chomsky holds that one requires a mechanistic explanation of linguistic behaviour, his alleged scientific theory is really metaphysical in nature and does not provide the explanation of language that he claims.