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Kant and the Mind.

Brook, Andrew. Cambridge University Press, 1994. xu + 325 pp. $59.95--Kant and the Mind is for philosophers of mind and cognitive scientists as well as Kant scholars. Brook's central claim is that Kant's discoveries have not been assimilated in current theorizing about the mind, much less superseded. Of course, Kant's general framework has affinities with contemporary functionalism and representationalism. What Brook shows is that more specific Kantian themes and arguments can continue to bear fruit. These include Kant's account of synthesis-the tying of elements together into a single representation, his account of the unity of consciousness (which Brook calls the global representation), and most centrally, Kant's account of apperceptive self-awareness.

In the first part (chaps. 1-4) Brook develops, over three chapters, a reconstruction of Kant's model of the mind for non-Kant-specialists. The introductory chapter includes a discussion of why materialistically minded folk might mistakenly believe Kant has nothing to offer. The second part (chaps. 5-10) is a defense of Brook's reading of Kant. Chapter 5 lays out the geography of Kant's scattered discussions of the mind in the Critique of Pure Reason and elsewhere. Chapters 6 through 9 contain discussions of the first edition subjective deduction, the Paralogisms, and the second edition subjective deduction. Chapter 10 contains a discussion of how to square Kant's account of self-awareness with Kant's strictures against knowledge of the noumenal world.

Brook finds points of contact with Kant over a wide range of work in contemporary philosophy of mind. To give a taste, in connection with synthesis, Brook mentions binding in visual processing (citing the work of Treisman), and the semantic holism of Davidson and Dennett. He does not think enough work has been done on questions in this area, on the question, for example, of how the mind is able to bring its encounter with one sentence to bear on its interpretation of a different ambiguous sentence?

The topic of the mind's synthesizing activity raises the issue of the undischarged homunculus--the little man lurking behind some neuron, the intentional agent who seems always to be needed at some point in explaining the operations of the mind. Brook thinks that Kant (at least in the second edition of the Critique) identifies the mind with a global representation, and claims that this provides a way of discharging the homunculus (p. 209) as well as solving other problems.

It helps, for example, to explain the underlying semantics of apperceptive self-awareness. Brook offers a nice analysis of different forms of awareness, for example, simple awareness (awareness of an object without being aware of being aware), awareness with recognition, awareness of one's representational states, and awareness of oneself as the subject of one's representational states, among others. Apperceptive self-awareness is awareness of oneself as the subject of one's representations. It is distinctive in that it involves a kind of nonascriptive reference. When one is aware of oneself as the subject of a representation, oneself is not (or need not be) the intentional or represented object of one's representation, as is the case when one looks at oneself in a mirror. Still, by contrast with, perhaps, a Wittgensteinian account, the "I" in the "I think" is referential. Apperceptive self-awareness is a "bare awareness."

The global representation is what Brook calls the "representational base" for apperceptive self-awareness. Representations in general can be recognized on the basis of having them. (For example, one can recognize and so be aware of the perception of one's computer on the basis of perceiving the computer.) Representations in general also provide the base for one's awareness of a subject of the experience. In the case of a global representation, however, elements can be synthesized into a global object only if one is aware not only of a subject for each of the component representations, but also of their having a common subject. Brook proposes that being aware of this common subject is the same as being aware of the global representation. (This falls out of the idea that the mind is a global representation.) Thus by apperception, one is aware of the subject common to the component representations.

There are some inconsistencies and repetitions (for the latter, pp. 44, 233). Claims such as that Kant "would have accepted almost any view about what representations are in themselves, including instrumentalism" (p. 208) do not help Brook's case. Nevertheless, Kant and the Mind is thought provoking and informative and well worth reading.
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Author:Hogan, Melinda
Publication:The Review of Metaphysics
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 1, 1996
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