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Content, non-conceptual

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-N076-2
Version: v2,  Published online: 2011
Retrieved June 16, 2024, from

Article Summary

A mental state has intentional content when 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 concept of fish and the concept of 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. Another way to explain it is to say that the propositional content of the belief is made up of concepts. Some philosophers believe that certain mental states have non conceptual contents: either in the sense that these states represent the world without the subject having to possess the relevant concepts, or in the sense that their propositional contents are not made up of concepts. The main examples of these putative mental states with nonconceptual contents are conscious perceptual experiences and the nonconscious states of cognitive information-processing systems (such as the visual system).

Citing this article:
Crane, Tim. Content, non-conceptual, 2011, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-N076-2. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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