The Act of Thinking

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MIT Press, Sep 3, 2004 - Philosophy - 304 pages
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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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Contents

1 ActionBased Theories of Thinking 1
17
BehaviorAbbreviation Theories
21
Ryles Adverbial Theory
28
Ryles Refraining Theory
35
Internalization of SpeechMediated Social Activity
42
Hampshires Inhibited Display Theory of Emotion
47
Other Internalized Social Activity Theories
51
3 Concerted Activity
55
SecondOrder Tokening
140
Other Varieties of Thinking
144
Ways in Which Thinking Is Public
148
Is Thinking Observable?
149
8 Where Our Notion of the Mind Comes From 1
157
Theory Theory
158
The Colloquial Vocabulary for Talking about Thinking
164
Using Metaphor to Refer to Features of Things
166

Defining Concerting
57
Infants Innate Abilities
58
First Concertings
61
Educative Concerting
64
Vocalizing and Speech in Educative Concerting
68
The Matrix
72
4 The Tokening of Concerted Activity
75
Tokening Done to Initiate Concerted Activity
76
Speech Replaces Other Types of Tokening
78
Covert Tokening
81
The Mechanics of Covert Tokening
82
The Uses of Covert Tokening
85
How Covert Tokening Is Taught
87
The Notion of Expressing Thoughts and Feelings
93
5 Derivation of Solo Action from Concerting
95
Early Solitary Action
98
Empathy
100
Hortation
102
Cooperation
104
Autonomous Solitary Action
106
What Is Learned before What
107
6 Concerted Perceiving and the Tokening of It
109
Learning New Perceptual Behavior
112
Things in the World
118
Referring
122
AbsentReferent Referring
125
Solo Perceiving Solo Imagining and Consciousness
131
7 Thinking
137
Dead Metaphors
171
Galvanic Stirrings
173
The Conventional Wisdom about Metaphors and Mind
179
The MetaphoricalOrigin Theory
181
Exclusive Use
182
Precedents in Metaphors
184
No Concept
187
Nominalization
188
10 Literal Paraphrases of the Mind Metaphors
199
Internality Privacy and Introspectability
200
Agency
205
Intentionality
208
NonPhysicality
211
Other Metaphors in the Colloquial Thinking Vocabulary
212
Why We Depend on Metaphors for Talking about Thinking
215
Mistaking Empathizing for Imagined Perceiving
217
11 Our Knowledge of Actions
221
The Empathy Argument
222
Action Metaphors in Science
228
The Rhetoric of Action Physicalism
233
Cultural Determinants of Actions
238
Verbs and Actions and Things
242
Is Knowledge of Actions Epistemologically Primary?
247
A Sample of Mind Metaphors
251
Bibliography
273
Index
283
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