OK, so I have been distracted the last few days with thoughts about Berkely and the relationship of God to quantum mechanics, but today I have to get back to work on my consciousness stuff…April will be here before you know it, and I have still got to turn this into a powerpoint presentaion!
So, before my ADD kicked in I was addressing Josh and Rosenthal’s response to my question about the difference between conscious pains and conscious thoughts that resukts in one being qualitative while the other isn’t. Their response is that the difference between the two cases is the result of the difference between the kind of property that one attributes to onself. I argued that they still haven’t told me why one isn’t like anything at all for the creature and that it is inconsistent with Rosenthal’s view about the emotions.
However, even if one is not moved by the above considerations, a closer look at Rosenthal’s account of thought and its relation to speech reveals something which closely resembles his homomorphism theory of the sensory qualities. He may be right that we cannot give a hommorphism theory for the content of beliefs, but we may be able to give one for the mental attitudes themselves.
On Rosenthal’s view there is a tight connection between thought and language. So for him thoughts consist in taking some mental attitude towards some propositional content. These thoughts are expressed in speech acts that (most often) have the same propositional content and an illocutionary force that matches the mental attitude of the thought. So, for example, if I think ‘it’s snowing’ (that is, if I believe that it is snowing) I can express that by saying ‘it’s snowing’ and my speech act has assertive illocutionary force that matches the mental attitude of the thought. This is in general true for him. As he says,
When a speech act expresses an intentional state, not only are the contents of both the state and the speech act the same; the speech act and the thought also have the same force. Both, that is, will involve suspecting, denying, wondering, affirming, doubting, and the like. Whenever a speech act expresses an intentional state, the illocutionary force of the speech act corresponds to the mental attitude of that intentional state. (p. 286)
So there are families of mental attitude among which similarities and differences will hold. So believing will be more like suspecting than it will be like wondering.
What are we to say about the actual homomorphism to perceptible properties? Is there any set of properties that the mental attitudes are homomorphic to? That is, is there a set of properties that have similarities and differences which resemble and differ in a way that preserves the similarities and differences between the mental attitudes? This is important since we need a way to specify the attitudes apart from their qualitative component. As I have suggested beofe we can hypothesize that the homomorphic properties are the illocutionary forces of speech acts.
So the differences between beliefs that p and desires that p are homomorphic to the differences between the illocutionary force of the utterance of some linguistic item in the process of expressing the belief or desire. Rosenthal’s overall view even suggests this. For instance he says,
It is arguable that speech acts inherit their intentionality from mental states by being a part of an overall causal network that involves those mental states…If so, then not only is the intentionality of speech acts due to their causal connections with thoughts; the intentionality of mental states themselves consists, in part, in the causal relations those states bear to speech acts. (p97)
Thus there are no relevant difference between these kinds of states. We are left wanting an explanation for why it is that one kind of thought results in there being something that it is like for me to have the conscious experience while in the case of the other kind of thought this is denied. Now perhaps there is an another worked out theory of the qualitative properties that could be able to supply a satisfying answer to this question; but I have not seen it. I am doubtful that one can be given.