Meaning, Mind, and Action

Meaning, Mind, and Action

Philosophical Essays

Julia Tanney


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Julia Tanney’s Meaning, Mind, and Action mounts an overarching challenge to widely held presuppositions within the practice of philosophy in its classical ‘analytic’ forms as well as in its ‘naturalist’ and ‘cognitivist’ turns, expanding upon those introduced in Rules, Reason and Self-Knowledge (2013).

Responding to a tradition that harks back to Plato and was resurrected by Mill, Frege, Russell, Moore, and the early Wittgenstein, Meaning, Mind, and Action challenges today’s orthodoxy on its own terms, beginning with canonical views in the philosophy of language and philosophical logic. The arguments of these early chapters are then applied to the theory of knowledge, action, and causation, followed by those on the nature of the mental, consciousness, and thinking. The final section, on the logic of the mental, widens the criticism to include the subject of animal minds, the postulation of mental representations in cultural anthropology, the author’s intention in literary theory, and the philosophical problem of irrationality in psychiatry.

Influenced by arguments of Wittgenstein, Ryle, and others, Tanney confronts the ‘platitudes’ that ground mainstream, philosophical theorising. To appreciate the indefinite elasticity of most, if not all, natural language expressions is to accept that there may be nothing in common by which we call a thing by the same name. This undermines the idea that the referents or extensions of our concepts can be revealed by metaphysical or philosophical-scientific speculation.


Julia Tanney:

Julia Tanney, formerly Reader in Philosophy of Mind at the University of Kent, has been an independent researcher since 2015.