Thursday, 16 October 2008

Mind and representation

It is not at all certain that perception 'represents' the world, as many theories of mind would have it. According to such theories, the world is an external reality with various properties that are represented by the perceptual apparatus of our brains, or put another way, the external world is 'modeled' internally and it is the model we have access to rather than the external world itself.

But in order to justifiably be a representation, or a model, in the sense normally understood the representation would need to be different from what it represents; there would need to be two states: the world in itself and the representation of the world. The latter is, in a sense, an imitation of the former, they would share certain features in common but would also display certain differences. The model is a semblance of what it models, and we are used to thinking of the model as the artificial or virtual version of the original.

But is there any need to 'represent' or 'model' the world if it is the case that the world is its representation, the world is its own model? This moves closer to the enactivist position, which is essentially anti-representational. One could say that the way the world appears is the way the world is, and ask what is gained by adding a distinction between a 'real' and a 'virtual' space, except possibly more confusion?