Body Language: Representing in Action

M. Rowlands

Research output: Book/ReportBook


This book is about the problem of representation: how is it possible for one item to represent another? We might equally call it the problem of content: how is it possible for an item to possess another as its content? Or the problem of meaning: how is it possible for one item to mean another? Or the problem of intentionality: how is it possible for one item to take another as its intentional object? Or the problem of aboutness: how is it possible for one item to be about another? The central contention of the book is that the problem has been exacerbated, perhaps to the point of insolubility, by a critical, yet largely unnoticed, assimilation: the assimilation of representation to the category of the word. Because of this the problem has almost always been understood as one of relating inner to outer - of relating an inner representing item to an item that is extrinsic or exterior to it in such a way that the former can be about the latter, or have the latter as its content. Understood in this way, representation has seemed deeply problematic, even mysterious. However, I shall argue that it is not this sort of problem at all. Representation has nothing, essentially, to do with the relation between a representing item and something extrinsic to it. Accordingly, it has nothing essentially to do with the connection between the inner and the outer. The hope is that divesting the problem of representation of this connection to the inner-outer divide robs it of at least some of its mystery. What was a latent problem becomes a patent problem and, therefore - maybe, just maybe - not so much of a problem at all. [Opening paragraph]
Original languageEnglish
PublisherMIT Press
ISBN (Print)978-0262182553, 0262182556
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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