Content, non-conceptual

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-N076-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved March 18, 2018, from

Article Summary

To say that a mental state has intentional content is to say that it represents features of the world. The intentional content of a belief can be characterized in terms of concepts: the content of the belief that fish swim is characterized by the concepts ‘fish’ and ‘swimming’. The contents of beliefs are, for this reason, often described as conceptual. One way to explain this idea is to say that to have a belief, one has to possess the concepts which characterize the belief’s content. However, some philosophers believe that certain mental states have non-conceptual contents: these states represent the world without the subject having to possess the concepts which characterize their contents. The main examples of these putative states are conscious perceptual experiences and the non-conscious states of cognitive information-processing systems (such as the visual system).

    Citing this article:
    Crane, Tim. Content, non-conceptual, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-N076-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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