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Hume, Images and Abstraction

Hume, Images and Abstraction , pp. 117-133 Hume's account of general or abstract ideas proposes that mental images can serve as the means for general thought by virtue of their functional role. More interesting than its sophistication, however, is the fact that the account fails in an illuminating way. Though I will explain Hume's theory by locating it in the debate over general ideas to which it was a response, the critical examination presented here is relevant to any attempt to base an account of mental representation exclusively on mental images and their deployment.1 Since Hume conceived the problem of general ideas as that of how individual items can become "general in their representation,"2 his theory speaks to contemporary enquiries into the nature of mental representation. Hume's immediate concern was "whether [abstract or general ideas] be general or particular [determinate] in the mind's conception of them" (T 17).3 In more modern terminology, Hume's question was this: how can individual mental representations, which of course have a determinate character, bear general contents or be general in what they represent, namely groups of objects? In representing a group of objects, a general idea conveys the commonality by virtue of which the members are similar http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Hume Studies Hume Society

Hume, Images and Abstraction

Hume Studies , Volume 21 (1) – Jan 26, 1995

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Publisher
Hume Society
Copyright
Copyright © Hume Society
ISSN
1947-9921
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Abstract

, pp. 117-133 Hume's account of general or abstract ideas proposes that mental images can serve as the means for general thought by virtue of their functional role. More interesting than its sophistication, however, is the fact that the account fails in an illuminating way. Though I will explain Hume's theory by locating it in the debate over general ideas to which it was a response, the critical examination presented here is relevant to any attempt to base an account of mental representation exclusively on mental images and their deployment.1 Since Hume conceived the problem of general ideas as that of how individual items can become "general in their representation,"2 his theory speaks to contemporary enquiries into the nature of mental representation. Hume's immediate concern was "whether [abstract or general ideas] be general or particular [determinate] in the mind's conception of them" (T 17).3 In more modern terminology, Hume's question was this: how can individual mental representations, which of course have a determinate character, bear general contents or be general in what they represent, namely groups of objects? In representing a group of objects, a general idea conveys the commonality by virtue of which the members are similar

Journal

Hume StudiesHume Society

Published: Jan 26, 1995

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