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Cognitive Phenomenology$
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Tim Bayne and Michelle Montague

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199579938

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199579938.001.0001

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A Frugal View of Cognitive Phenomenology

A Frugal View of Cognitive Phenomenology

(p.197) A Frugal View of Cognitive Phenomenology
Cognitive Phenomenology

William S. Robinson

Oxford University Press

Liberal views of cognitive phenomenology propose occurrent, non‐imagistic, non‐emotional, conscious understandings to account for sudden realizations, disambiguation of images or sentences, and other related phenomena. Stingy views attempt to account for these phenomena with sensory materials familiar in traditional empiricism. This paper proposes and defends a frugal view that denies the special conscious understandings of liberal views, but draws upon more phenomenological material than stingy views allow (e.g. a sense of appropriateness of our words; a sense of our saying, not just hearing, our inner speech). The frugal view is supported (i) by the phenomenology of certain cases described here; (ii) by analyses that show how examples that are often taken to support liberalism are compatible with frugality; and (iii) by its dialectical advantage over liberalism. This last point depends on liberalism's “structure problem”: sudden conscious understandings are held to have a complexity that corresponds to the complexity of sentences, without being composed of words or spatial imagery—but it is not evident what the elements of such complex structures could be. Frugality avoids this problem.

Keywords:   confidence, consciousness, familiarity, inner speech, processing fluency, Quinean indeterminacy, structure problem, sudden realizations, understanding

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