The Act of Thinking
A new theory proposes that thinking is a learned action.In this remarkable monograph, Derek Melser argues that the core assumption of both folk psychology and cognitive science—that thinking goes on in the head—is mistaken. Melser argues that thinking is not an intracranial process of any kind, mental or neural, but is rather a learned action of the person.After an introduction in which he makes a prima facie case that thinking is an action, Melser reviews action-based theories of thinking advanced by Ryle, Vygotsky, Hampshire and others. He then presents his own theory of "token concerting," according to which thinking is a special kind of token performance, by the individual, of certain social, concerted activity. He examines the developmental role of concerted activity, the token performance of concerted activity, the functions of speech, the mechanics and uses of covert tokening, empathy, the origins of solo action, the actional nature of perception, and various kinds and aspects of mature thinking. In addition, he analyzes the role of metaphors in the folk notion of mind.While intending his theory as a contribution to the philosophy of mind, Melser aims also at a larger goal: to establish actions as a legitimate philosophical given, self-explanatory and sui generis. To this end, he argues in the final chapter against the possibility of scientific explanation of actions. The Act of Thinking opens up a large new area for philosophical research.
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1 ActionBased Theories of Thinking 1
2 ActionBased Theories of Thinking 2
3 Concerted Activity
4 The Tokening of Concerted Activity
5 Derivation of Solo Action from Concerting
6 Concerted Perceiving and the Tokening of It
8 Where Our Notion of the Mind Comes From 1
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abbreviated ability absent-referent referring act nominalization action physicalism acts of thinking actual adult agent and/or behaviorists biological brain chapter child claim cognitive colloquial thinking vocabulary commencing and aborting concerted activity concerted perceiving contexts cooperative covert tokening covertly cultural dead metaphor demonstration developmental educative concerting educative sessions emotion empathize everyday example explain folk psychology function gestures Grace de Laguna Hampshire hearer heuristic hortation Ibid imagining imitation infant initial inside internal interpersonal intracranial invitatory tokening involve kind lexigram literally logical look mechanism mental phenomena mind metaphors mother movements natural processes non-physical notion noun mind object observer one’s Oxford English Dictionary participation Penseur people’s actions people’s heads perceptual behavior person philosophical philosophy of mind physiological events picture practice ready referring expressions refraining relevant response role Ryle Ryle’s scientist sense skills social solo action specific speech synecdoche talk Theodore Sarbin theory things thought tion transaction verb verbal visualizing vocal Vygotsky words X-ing