Values and Intentions: A Study in Value-Theory and Philosophy of Mind

By J. N. Findlay | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
THE BASIC MODES OF CONSCIOUSNESS

(1) GENERAL CONSIDERATION OF 'COGNITION' AND 'CONSCIOUSNESS'

Having reached an accommodation between the 'outward' and observational, and the 'inward' or directly 'experiential' approaches to frames of mind, and having considered the 'directedness' or 'intentionality' which for some philosophers is the distinguishing mark of the mental, we shall in the present chapter limit our view to the mental orientations traditionally known as 'cognitive', the orientations in which things (in the widest sense of the word) are in some manner made themes or objects of examination or awareness, or become 'present' or 'apparent' to thought or perception, in which they are 'brought' or 'laid' before the mind, in which they are treated of, weighed, dealt with, turned over, pointed to or variously regarded and illuminated, whatever the metaphor derived from primitive confrontation and manipulation may best please us.

The word 'cognition' is, of course, a philosopher's word, and hence suspect from the point of view of all those who like to range concepts in 'families' without necessarily looking for, or believing in, a Platonic thread of identity that runs through them all. We shall, however, presume that the word genuinely distils a significant affinity resting at least on a common relation to a single basic type of situation, which all in varying degrees and ways reinstate and condense. To have before one some coloured dots on a grey ground or to see the point or truth of some abstract theorum, may be profoundly different mental postures: they have, however, a deeply felt affinity marked by the natural use of the words 'looking' and 'seeing' which ranges them over against urgings, surgings, promptings, stirrings, reverberations and other states naturally spoken of in more dynamic terms. 'Cognition' is of course a term fraught with many disadvantages. By its connections with 'knowledge' it tends to stress the often adventitious success of a state of mind in hitting its target in the 'real' or 'true', so making intrinsic what is to a large extent extrinsic: it tends also to suppress or under-emphasize

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