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Ways of SeeingThe scope and limits of visual cognition$
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Pierre Jacob and Marc Jeannerod

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780198509219

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198509219.001.0001

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The representational theory of the visual mind

The representational theory of the visual mind

(p.3) 1 The representational theory of the visual mind
Ways of Seeing



Oxford University Press

This chapter sketches and argues for a view called the ‘representational theory of the visual mind’ (RTVM). RTVM is not so much a scientific theory that leads to testable predictions, as a picture or a framework. According to this theory, the mind is at bottom a representational device: in Dretske's terms, ‘all mental facts are representational facts’. In this view, mental processes consist of the formation and the transformation of mental representations. Section 2 contrasts RTVM with two alternatives: ‘sense-datum theory’ and ‘disjunctivism’. Section 3 presents reasons for thinking that visual percepts have non-conceptual content. Section 4 sketches the basis of an approach labelled as ‘cognitive dynamics’. Section 5 considers three implications of RTVM for the control of visually guided actions. It argues that RTVM has the resources to clarify the puzzle of visually guided actions. It examines the nature of actions and argues that actions involve mental representations.

Keywords:   representational theory of the visual mind, mental representations, visual percepts, cognitive dynamics

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