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Articulating a Thought We generally have no trouble expressing complex ideas that we have never considered before, though not always. Articulating a thought can also be extremely hard. Our difficulties in articulating thoughts pervade many aspects of philosophical inquiry, as well as many ordinary situations. While we may overcome some of the challenges through education and practice, we cannot do away with them altogether. And the hardest thoughts to articulate often come to us unbidden: as we neither assemble them from other thoughts nor get them from any source of external information. They can come from us freely and spontaneously, and frequently we articulate them in order to find out what they are. In many cases, we would not bother articulating our thoughts if we already had this knowledge—yet, when we find the right words, we can often instantly tell that they express our thought. How do we manage to ­recognize the formulations of our thoughts, in the absence of prior knowledge of what we are thinking? And why is it that producing a public language formulation contributes in any way to the deeply private undertaking of coming to know our own thoughts? In Articulating a Thought, Eli Alshanetsky considers how we make our thoughts clear to ourselves in the process of putting them into words and examines the paradox of those difficult cases where we do not already know what we are struggling to articulate.

Articulating a Thought E L I A L SHA N E T SK Y


1 Great Clarendon Street, Oxford, OX2 6DP, United Kingdom Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. Oxford is a registered trade mark of Oxford University Press in the UK and in certain other countries © Eli Alshanetsky 2019 The moral rights of the author have been asserted First Edition published in 2019 Impression: 1 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of Oxford University Press, or as expressly permitted by law, by licence or under terms agreed with the appropriate reprographics rights organization. Enquiries concerning reproduction outside the scope of the above should be sent to the Rights Department, Oxford University Press, at the address above You must not circulate this work in any other form and you must impose this same condition on any acquirer Published in the United States of America by Oxford University Press 198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, United States of America British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data Data available Library of Congress Control Number: 2019952618 ISBN 978–0–19–878588–0 DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198785880.001.0001 Printed and bound in Great Britain by Clays Ltd, Elcograf S.p.A.

Acknowledgments My interest in the subject of this book began when I was an undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley. In my philosophy classes, I would often write papers in which I would summarize some philosopher’s view, or rehash the arguments surrounding some thesis, while adding my own twist here and there. This would result in clear papers, but they did not feel very creative. On the other hand, outside of my philosophy classes, I was having various insights about life, the world, morality, and other topics that seemed broadly philosophical. Whenever I took the chance to get clear on one of them in a paper, I could not predict how long the paper would be, or whether it would make any sense. I would turn in barely comprehensible papers, but still feel that I was getting somewhere intellectually. It is as though I was split into two parts—one clear, the other obscure. One part was well versed in language but oblivious to many aspects of reality; the other part was linguistically clumsy but interfaced more closely with experience. I wanted to understand the reason for this split, and why it seemed so crucial to get the two parts talking to each other. Thinking about this has naturally led me to the subject of self-knowledge. Our knowledge of our own thoughts is as immediate as can be. And yet, I did not feel that I had a good handle on many of my thoughts, or knew whether my insights were really insights, until I pinned them down using words others could easily understand. This function of public language struck me as puzzling and as crying out for investigation. In graduate school at New York University, I was fortunate to have open-minded mentors who encouraged me to pursue this interest further. The first incarnation of this book was my dissertation, and I am grateful to Paul Boghossian, who directed it, as well as to my advisors Ned Block, Jim Pryor, and Crispin Wright for their trust and guidance. During the long gestation of this project, I was helped immensely by many other people at NYU, including, in particular, Yuval Avnur, Max Barkhausen, David Chalmers, Mihailis Diamantis, Sinan Dogramaci, Cian Dorr,

viii Acknowledgments Martin Ebeling, Matthew Evans, Kit Fine, Rob Hopkins, Beatrice Longuenesse, Asya Passinsky, Kristin Primus, Christopher Prodoehl, Katrina Przyjemski, John Richardson, Stephen Schiffer, Jonathan Simon, and Peter Unger. New York has been a vibrant intellectual setting in which to do philosophy, and the book grew out of the countless informal conversations, animated debates, and thoughtful comments that I received during my period there. Much of the subsequent research on the book was done in relative isolation in a foggy shed during my three years as an Andrew W. Mellon fellow in the Humanities at Stanford. I am indebted to the Mellon Fellowship program for enabling me to devote a significant amount of time to research and writing. My warm thanks go to the fellows and staff of the Stanford Humanities center for welcome breaks, in the form of stimulating conversations that helped situate my work in a wider context. I am especially grateful to R. Lanier Anderson for his enthusiasm for the project and help during its final stages. I am grateful to two anonymous readers for Oxford University Press for carefully reviewing the typescript and giving insightful and constructive comments, and to Peter Momtchiloff for his patience and for making the project into a reality. Thanks also to Alex Byrne and Ram Neta for their valuable comments at the Chicago APA, which I did my best to integrate into the book. During the past several years, thinking and writing on this subject have been an intense preoccupation, and my work on it is far from complete. I thank my wife, Carrie, for her understanding, and for providing diversions and an anchor when my flights of philosophical fancy were getting out of hand. Lastly, I thank my parents, Igor and Helena, for humoring my precarious choice of vocation, and for their limitless love and babysitting, which has freed precious time for writing. This book is dedicated to them.

1 Introduction Thought is only a flash in the midst of a long night. But it is this flash which is everything. —Poincaré

As philosophers and cognitive scientists have emphasized, articulating a thought can be astoundingly easy. We generally have no trouble expressing complex ideas that we have never considered before.1 But not always: a far less noted fact is that articulating a thought can be extremely hard. Robert Solomon (The Big Questions, 2006: 5–6) goes so far as to identify the activity of setting out a thought in clear, concise and readily understandable language with the main process of philosophy: Philosophy is, first of all, reflection . . . Articulation—spelling out our ideas in words and sentences—is the primary process of philosophy. Sitting down to write out your ideas is an excellent way to articulate them, but most people find that an even better way . . . is simply to discuss these ideas with other people . . . Articulating your opinions still leaves open the question whether they are worth believing, whether they are well thought out and can stand up to criticism.

1  On the philosophy side, our ability to articulate a boundless range of novel thoughts in a quick and frictionless fashion has been a primary target of explanation of compositional theories of meaning of the kind developed by Donald Davidson (“Semantics for Natural Languages,” 2001), Michael Dummett (Frege: Philosophy of Language, 1973), and David Lewis (“General Semantics,” 1970). On the side of cognitive science, the effortlessness of the articulation process has been frequently emphasized by psycholinguists such as Willem  J.  M.  Levelt, who begins his influential book Speaking: From Intention to Articulation (1998: p. xiii) by observing that “talking is one of our dearest occupations. We spend hours a day conversing, telling stories, teaching, quarreling, and, of course, speaking to ourselves. Speaking is, moreover, one of our most complex cognitive, linguistic, and motor skills. Articulation flows automatically, at a rate of about fifteen speech sounds per second, while we are attending only to the ideas we want to get across to our interlocutors.”

Articulating a Thought. Eli Alshanetsky, Oxford University Press (2019). © Eli Alshanetsky. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198785880.001.0001

2 Introduction Whether we take articulation to be the primary process of philosophy or just one out of several important activities that make up philosophical practice, our difficulties in articulating thoughts are certainly a familiar part of the life of a philosopher. Such difficulties also pervade many ordinary situations: we may face them in articulating an insight into a movie or a sudden realization about a friend. We may overcome some of the challenges through education and practice. But we cannot do away with them altogether. The hardest thoughts to articulate often come to us unbidden: we neither assemble them from other thoughts nor get them from any source of external information. One characteristic that they commonly share is that they freely and spontaneously come from us. Articulating a thought is not merely a form of talking but also a form of thinking in its own right. On those occasions when it is difficult, we need to chisel away at imprecise formulations, in exploratory ways, until we uncover a formulation that satisfyingly expresses what we originally had in mind. When we encounter the wrong formulations, we doubt and hesitate. But we are confident when we come upon the right one. We cannot always break the hold of our thoughts over us by an act of will. The thoughts that we struggle to articulate may keep inclining us to say things, whether we like it or not. They may seem true or false, hopeful or alarming, frivolous or serious, may lead us to find value in certain things, worry about others, awake certain emotions or suspicions, and so on. An important feature of these thoughts is that we often articulate them in order to find out what they are. In many cases, we would not bother articulating our thoughts if we already had this knowledge. Yet, when we find the right words, we can often instantly tell that they express our thought. So how do we manage to recognize the formulations of our thoughts, in the absence of prior knowledge of what we are thinking? And why is it that producing a public language formulation (one that conforms to public standards of literalness, exactness, grammaticality, and so on) contributes in any way to the deeply private undertaking of coming to know our own thoughts? Of course, in evaluating words, our attention rarely goes to the formulation itself. What we ultimately seem to evaluate are not sounds or inscriptions but ways in which other competent users of our language would understand or interpret them. We try out a formulation, and, upon considering it, think: “That’s off!” A wrong shade of meaning here;

Self-knowledge: Reorientation  3 a potential misapprehension there. Each word or phrase that we think of may seem laden with the risk of misrepresenting ourselves. But how can we know this, given that the whole point of what we are doing is to get clear on what we had in mind? And how do we bridge the gap to arrive at words that would elicit precisely the needed interpretation? More importantly, why does the other person enter into the picture at all? Why do we need to know what some other person would think we think, and realize that that is, in fact, what we think, to know what we ourselves think? Why do we take the other person’s response into account in trying to come to know our solitary thoughts? Although these questions span several different areas of philosophy, their most natural home is the subject of self-knowledge. In the next few sections, I would like to sketch the territory of the subject from a distinctive perspective, and indicate the place of my project in it.

1.  Self-knowledge: Reorientation Self-knowledge is somewhat exceptional among contemporary philosophical topics in that its study hardly needs justifying to those who hear about it for the first time. Unlike other areas of philosophy that may initially strike non-philosophers as too odd or esoteric to be worthy of philosophers’ attention, self-knowledge often comes across as immediately gripping to non-philosophers. As Quassim Cassam (SelfKnowledge for Humans, 2014: p. vii) observes in his recent book on the subject, it is “just the sort of subject which non-philosophers expect philosophers to be interested in.” Unfortunately, however, as the introductions to many books on self-knowledge are quick to warn, the non-philosophers are in for a disappointment when they hear what philosophers study under this label. What philosophers mean by “self-knowledge” has little to do with the rare kind of self-understanding that has traditionally been regarded as a mark of wisdom and extolled by the Delphic injunction “know thyself.” It has little to do with the journey of finding oneself, the hazard of losing oneself out of ignorance of one’s true nature, or any of the other vicissitudes of the self that have fascinated novelists, biographers, and psychoanalysts. By “self-knowledge,” philosophers have in mind nothing more

4 Introduction than our knowledge of our own mental states (for example, beliefs, desires, sensations)—and not especially important or elusive ones at that. Looking out of the window, you may come to believe that it is windy. Not only do you believe it, you also know that you believe it. Having finished eating at a restaurant, you may want to pay the bill. Not only do you want it, you also know that you do. You may feel nauseous and instantly know that you feel that way, without doing anything to achieve this feat. In investigating self-knowledge, contemporary philosophers focus almost exclusively on the kind of effortless knowledge that we have in these cases. Why care about self-knowledge of this seemingly trivial sort? A philosopher of self-knowledge may point to several motivations. Some of them come from epistemology. Many philosophers influenced by Descartes have held our knowledge of our mental states to be at once more immediate and better justified than our knowledge of others’ mental states and our knowledge of our external surroundings. But it is not obvious how to characterize our method of gaining self-knowledge. A philosopher interested in the sources of knowledge would want to characterize our way of knowing our mental states, and compare it with our other methods of gaining knowledge. Furthermore, our typical beliefs about our mental states seem to be bedrock or foundational beliefs, if any beliefs are; our justification for believing that we have a headache or that we want a drink does not seem to derive from our justification to believe any other, supporting propositions. Understanding how such beliefs could be justified, or amount to knowledge, could shed light on our justification for other types of bedrock beliefs (for example, beliefs about the basic principles of logic and mathematics) and the nature of knowledge in general. Other reasons to be interested in self-knowledge come from the philosophy of mind. As many philosophers have noted, a crucial feature of mental states is that they can be known from the inside, in a special way available only to their subjects. This is not true in general of our nonmental characteristics: to know what you are wearing or how much you weigh, you must carry out the same kind of empirical investigation as anyone else. A key mark of this first-personal way of knowing our mental states is that it seems to rule out the possibility of misidentifying their subjects—of mistaking our own mental states for those of others, and

Self-knowledge: Reorientation  5 vice versa. A philosopher interested in the nature of mental states would want to know what it is about them that enables their subjects to know them in this special way, and what the availability of this way of knowing tells us about what the states themselves can be. Our special way of knowing our mental states is also of interest owing to its tension with the doctrine of externalism about mental content. On this doctrine, what we are thinking depends not just on facts that are internal to us (for example, facts about our brain and physical constitution) but also on facts about our environment (for example, our thoughts can only be about water if our environment contains water). But we do not need to investigate our environment to know what we are thinking about. An externalist must find a way to reconcile these two ideas, or else give up the idea that we can know our thoughts from the armchair—without relying on empirical evidence.2 By offering these motivations, the philosopher of self-knowledge may reinforce one’s appreciation of the subject’s significance—in the abstract. But, as interesting and important as these motivations are, they are likely to leave the non-philosopher disappointed. For the most part, they speak only to someone who is already hooked on the appropriate theoretical questions (for example, about the foundations of knowledge and justification, the metaphysics of mind, or intentionality); in this respect, these motivations differ from the sort of intuitive motivations that may lead us to worry about our knowledge of the external world or other minds. I suspect that most non-philosophers will find that their initial interest in self-knowledge is not reflected in them at all. How come?

2  The classic arguments for externalism are due to Putnam (“The Meaning of ‘Meaning’, ” 1975) and Burge (“Individualism and the Mental,” 1979). The tension between externalism and armchair self-knowledge has been sharpened by Davidson (“Knowing One’s Own Mind,” 1987) and Burge (“Individualism and Self-Knowledge,” 1988), and pressed by Boghossian (“Content and Self-Knowledge,” 1989) and McKinsey (“Anti-Individualism and Privileged Access,” 1991) in two different ways. Boghossian brings out the tension using the “slow-switching” thought experiment in which the thoughts a person expresses using the term “water” come to pick out a different substance, as a result of a switch in one’s environment, but where the person cannot tell, by reflection alone, that the switch has taken place. McKinsey’s strand of argument (also elaborated in Boghossian’s “What the Externalist Can Know A Priori,” 1997) frames the tension as a reductio to the paradoxical conclusion that we can know facts about our environment (e.g. that water exists) a priori. The tension has generated a huge literature. For some samples, see the articles in Ludlow and Martin (eds) (Externalism and Self-Knowledge, 1998) and in Brueckner and Ebbs (eds) (Debating Self-Knowledge, 2012).

6 Introduction A main source of disappointment, I conjecture, comes from the fact that gaining self-knowledge can be hard. We need not look far for examples: it can take some soul-searching to find out what we really want (as opposed to what we should want), what we really think about someone that leads us to react to them in antagonistic ways, or what our true opinion about an issue is that suddenly moves us to go on a diatribe about it at a dinner party. Coming to know the mental states behind such reactions involves some active process on our part; imagining various possibilities to see how they make us feel, talking through the issues, prodding ourselves with questions, or openly confronting the relevant person, all seem to have some place in it. But, although such acts make sense to us on some level, it is highly unclear how best to conceive of the process as a whole. What the non-philosopher expects of the philosopher is not so much guidance about specific cases but, at least, something illuminating about this difficult and obscure process—something that could actually help us understand what it is we do when we engage in it. Instead, philosophers are preoccupied with cases that seem to involve no active process at all, let alone a difficult and messy one. Hence, the disappointment. I want to urge for a change in perspective. Imagine, for the moment, that the effortless cases of self-knowledge that philosophers view as central (knowing that you are thirsty, or that you have a headache, and the like) are merely fringe cases, possibly linguistic artifacts. Indeed, the fact that non-philosophers tend to find such cases trivial may indicate that there is something shifty going on with language—a telltale sign that language has gone on holiday. As Wittgenstein liked to emphasize, language does not always function in the same way; the fact that our linguistic (or conceptual) practice affords the transition from “I think . . .” to “I know that I think . . .” need not entail that the transition invariably corresponds to a genuine psychological process, or that a substantial property (a new state, distinct from any we were in before) is always added to the initial thought. So let us pretend for now that the effortless cases of self-knowledge can be explained away along such deflationary lines, or in some other way, and, insofar as possible, focus on the underlying phenomenon of human concern. Rather than taking the effortless cases as our starting point, while relegating the difficult ones to an

Models of self-knowledge  7 afterthought, let us start with the difficult cases as our paradigm, and make it our goal to illuminate them.

2.  Models of self-knowledge Going through some of the dominant models of self-knowledge with an eye toward this goal can be revealing. Take, first, the perceptual model. On it, we come to know our mental states using a faculty of introspection, or “inner sense.” Just as we have special perceptual mechanisms for monitoring our external environment (our outer senses), so, too, we have a special mechanism for “tracking” our inner states. The model goes at least as far back as Locke and is still thriving today.3 The pros and cons of it have been widely debated. By treating our capacity for selfknowledge as a causal mechanism like any other, the model fits well with a naturalistic conception of the mind; and its recent proponents have tended to see their work as continuous with cognitive science. But in highlighting the similarity with perception, the model has been charged with neglecting the close connection between self-knowledge and rationality. A severe failure in self-knowledge seems to impugn our rationality in a way that a merely perceptual failure does not; one influential criticism of the model, advanced by Shoemaker (“Self-Knowledge and ‘Inner Sense’, ” 1994), is that it falsely predicts that we could lose our capacity for self-knowledge while remaining rational, as we would if we became blind, or lost some other sense. But, whatever the balance of considerations may be, from our perspective, the model is neither here nor there. It makes no difference whether one takes inner perception to be a causal process, triggered by mental states, or a more direct type of acquaintance with mental states, as on the view proposed by Russell (The Problems of Philosophy, 1912). 3  One point of contention between contemporary advocates of this model concerns the exact relation between our capacity for self-knowledge and our capacity for knowing (“reading”) other minds; on Goldman’s simulation theory (Simulating Minds, 2006), our mindreading capacity depends on our capacity to identify our own mental states, whereas Nichols and Stich (Mindreading, 2003) take the capacities to admit of a two-way dissociation. For an extended discussion of the costs and benefits of the perceptual model, see Brie Gertler (SelfKnowledge, 2011: ch. 5).

8 Introduction Our active role in coming to know our mental states, in the difficult cases, goes well beyond merely turning our inward gaze on this or that. At the very least, it involves engaging in some thinking (for example, about where to navigate our attention to). Claiming that we arrive at self-knowledge by introspecting the mental states in question does nothing to elucidate this form of thinking, or our role in the broader process of which it is a part. Indeed, in cases where self-knowledge is a challenge, the advice “Introspect harder!” seems misplaced. Other models seek to explicate self-knowledge not in terms of observation but by appealing to our nature as critical reasoners—the sorts of beings who strive to bring their attitudes into line with the appropriate reasons. One such model is the rationality model, advanced by Shoemaker (“On Knowing one’s own Mind,” 1988). On this model, knowing that one is in a mental state (for example, some specific belief or desire) is simply a matter of being in that mental state, being rational, and having the concept of that mental state; as long as one is rational (and conceptually competent), having a mental state automatically entails that one knows one has it. Burge (“Our Entitlement to SelfKnowledge,” 1996) suggests a similar view with respect to some of our mental states when he writes: “One’s status as a person and critical reasoner entails epistemic entitlement to some judgments about one’s propositional attitudes. It entails some non-observational knowledge of them.” Like the perceptual model, the rationality model has benefits as well as costs—for example, it more easily accommodates externalism about mental content, but at the price of making it hard to see how selfknowledge could be fallible and incomplete. From our perspective, however, the model is unhelpful. On it, self-knowledge is not a cognitive achievement—something a person does in an effort of some kind. So it cannot shed light on how we go about achieving self-knowledge. A different way of explicating self-knowledge by appealing to aspects of the reasoning process is given by the transparency model. On this model, we come to know our beliefs and desires by figuring out what we have reason to believe and desire. The questions “What do I believe?” and “What do I desire?” are thus said to be “transparent” to, or answered in the same way as, the questions “What should I believe?” and “What is worth desiring?” Rather than coming to know our mental states by turning our attention inward on them, we come to know them by directing

Models of self-knowledge  9 our thinking outward, past the mental states, and toward the state of affairs they are about. The model has become increasingly influential in recent years.4 But it raises some tough questions: how well does it generalize to mental states other than beliefs and desires (for example, hopes, musings, regrets, aversions)? In assuming a tight fit between what we believe/desire and what we have reason to believe/desire, does the model require an unrealistic degree of rationality on our part? Does it saddle us with a radical form of irrationality, in holding that we draw psy­cho­logic­al conclusions (for example, about our beliefs) from non-psy­cho­logic­al facts (for example, our evidence for them)? Do we really need to consult our evidence for our beliefs each time we want to come to know them? (Do we not often do this by effortless recollection?) And so on. In fairness, unlike the former models, the transparency model at least construes us as active, and speaks to the challenge of elucidating what we do when we engage in some real psychological process. The question is whether this process is the one we have set out to understand. Notice that, on this model, the process of coming to know our mental states constitutes the objects of knowledge—it generates or shapes our attitudes, rather than reveals the attitudes we have had all along. It is true that we often answer the questions “What do you think?” and “What do you want?” by making up our minds about what to think or want; saying that we know what we think/want can just mean that we endorse or stand behind our beliefs/desires. Although I will revisit this phenomenon later in the book, on the face of it, it seems different from what happens in the difficult cases of self-knowledge. Crucially, in cases where self-knowledge is a practical human concern, our mental states cause various reactions in us, even before we come to know them—that is often precisely why we want to learn about them. Moreover, while some parts of us are malleable and are under our rational control, the parts we want to learn about could persistently defy our reason. Our task in the difficult cases of self-knowledge is often to uncover such fixed and recalcitrant attitudes, so as to bring them under rational control and 4 The dependence in our way of answering these questions has been noted by Edgley (Reason in Theory and Practice, 1969) and—more famously—by Evans (The Varieties of Reference, 1982). The details of how we go about answering the former (inward-directed) questions by answering the latter (outward-directed) questions are contested. Recent proponents of views in this general spirit include Moran (Authority and Estrangement, 2001), Byrne (“Introspection,” 2005), and Fernández (Transparent Minds, 2013).

10 Introduction determine whether to own or disown them. Such an endeavor would not make sense if the attitudes we come to know were always the ones we took ourselves to have reasons for, as it is on the transparency model. The upshot, as I hope to have made clear, is that the preceding models fare not just poorly but absurdly poorly in accounting for the paradigm cases of self-knowledge—to the point where there is an almost complete disconnect between the cases and the accounts. The reason for this seems clear: the models were not designed to illuminate these cases in the first place, but to serve the mostly theoretical motivations stated at the start. Although some philosophers have made stabs at extending their accounts of the effortless cases of self-knowledge to the difficult cases, most have simply denied that there is anything problematic about the latter that calls for explanation. The complexity of the cases may make them interesting, from a practical point of view. But, from the point of view of epistemology, coming to know the mental states in these cases involves the same combination of inference and observation that is involved in knowing any other complex matter. The aim of the book is largely to help offset this tendency: to show why (at least some of) the difficult cases of self-knowledge are philosophically interesting and puzzling in their own right, and what makes our way of knowing our mental states in these cases special.

3.  Self-knowledge and expression Our guiding idea will be that, if there is any substantial process or phenomenon deserving of the label “self-knowledge,” then expression— especially linguistic expression—plays some key part in it. Since the relation between expression and self-knowledge has been the theme of a number of philosophers, let me flag some directions in which I will not be taking this idea. The first is expressivism about self-knowledge. On the simple form of this view, our self-attributions of mental states (avowals such as “I believe/want . . .”) express rather than report or describe our mental states. Avowals, on this view, function like natural expressions such as groans, grimaces, giggles, and so on. Calling this an account of selfknowledge is a bit of a misnomer, since the account denies that we can

Self-knowledge and expression  11 have any such knowledge to begin with; just like groans and winces, avowals do not say anything, true or false, and do not represent things that we could know—telling someone your tooth hurts is on a par with clutching your cheek and exclaiming “Ouch!” The inspiration for the view (though not, I think, the view itself) comes from Wittgenstein (Philosophical Investigations, 1991: §244), who famously suggested that we should see the avowal of pain as a learned piece of pain behavior—a sophisticated replacement for crying—and wrote: “it can’t be said of me at all (except perhaps as a joke) that I know I am in pain. What is it supposed to mean—except perhaps that I am in pain?” . . . it makes sense to say about other people that they doubt whether I am in pain; but not to say it about myself.” As several philosophers have pointed out, in its simple form, expressivism suffers from fatal problems.5 To see the main one, it will help to contrast it with the corresponding position about ethical language: emotivism. According to emotivism, moral claims such as “Torture is wrong” are used not to report moral facts but to express the speaker’s attitudes— for example, of approval or disapproval. A well-known problem for emotivism (the “problem of embedding,” or the Frege–Geach point) is to explain how moral claims can contribute to the meaning of larger sentences—for example, “If torture is wrong, then we should ban it.” Expressivism about self-knowledge inherits this problem, but also faces a more flagrant problem that is specific to it. To see it, notice that, for the emotivist, the reason why we cannot report moral facts is that there are simply no moral facts for us to speak of—moral facts do not fit into the fabric of the universe, and the closest facts in the vicinity are facts about our moral attitudes. By contrast, it cannot be a part of expressivism about self-knowledge to deny that there are facts about mental states (for example, the fact that you have a headache or want a drink). If there were no such facts, there would be no mental states for us to express. And so, as long as there are any mental states for us to express, the expressivist leaves it utterly mysterious why we cannot talk about them. Viewing our self-attributions of mental states as lacking in truthvalue is not the right way to go, but a number of philosophers have 5 For an influential discussion of expressivism and its problems, see Wright (“SelfKnowledge: The Wittgensteinian Legacy,” 1998).

12 Introduction recently gone on to develop expressivism without this commitment. On this moderate version of expressivism, avowals have a dual function of both expressing and reporting our mental states. Our acts of avowing our mental states spontaneously issue or flow from those states, just like natural expressions; but, unlike natural expressions, the products of those acts can still be evaluated for truth, just like regular assertions. Views of this kind have been advanced by David Finkelstein (Expression and the Inner, 2003) and also by Dorit Bar-On (Speaking my Mind, 2004), who calls her view “neo-expressivism.” For our purposes, it is crucial to realize that, somewhat disappointingly, neo-expressivism is not, in the first instance, a theory of how we come to know our mental states, on an individual level. Its primary explanandum is a set of sociolinguistic facts—certain striking features of our talk about our own mental states. For example, ordinarily, other people presume our claims about what we feel, want, and believe to be true and accept them without asking us for additional evidence. Neo-expressivists seek to explain such facts about our practice not in terms of our special method of knowing our mental states but by appealing to the expressive function of avowals—their facility to voice, vent, or display the subject’s mental states in a reliable way, without any intervening reflection by the subject. The bearing of this project on the original project of explaining how we know our mental states is by no means apparent. One deflationary option is to collapse the two projects into one: to argue that an account of the social practice, or “language-game,” surrounding avowals is (somehow) sufficient to account for self-knowledge. On this view, our privileged epistemic access to our mental states may just be an artifact of “grammar” or our linguistic intuitions—an overblown interpretation of the fact that other people treat our claims about our mental states as authoritative and accept them without asking for evidence. I have earlier recommended temporarily putting ourselves in the grips of such a view, with respect to the effortless and trivial-looking cases of self-knowledge. Whether or not the details of this view could be worked out with respect to those cases, the point of introducing it was to redirect our attention to the difficult cases of self-knowledge to which the view is plainly inapplicable.6 The cases that clearly fall out of the scope of this view are 6  There are reasons to doubt that such a view could be worked out, even with respect to the effortless cases; some of our reactions to our mental states (e.g. shame about certain desires,

Self-knowledge and expression  13 precisely the ones I wanted to focus on. In these difficult cases, we seem to engage in some genuine psychological process that eventuates in self-know­ledge. It is this process that will be our primary target for explanation. A different way of elucidating the role of expression in this process turns to interpretivism about self-knowledge. On this view, there is nothing special about our method of knowing our mental states in the difficult cases, not because they are fundamentally different from the effortless ones, but because there is nothing special about our way of knowing our mental states at all. With the possible exception of sensations and perceptual states, our method of knowing our mental states may be the same across the board—inference or interpretation all around. Such a view goes back to Ryle (The Concept of Mind, 1949), and has recently been elaborated by Carruthers (The Opacity of Mind, 2011) and Cassam (Self-Knowledge for Humans, 2014). Similar views have been proposed by cognitive scientists such as Alison Gopnik (“How we Know our Minds,” 1993), who, by drawing on data from child development, has argued that we lack direct awareness of our mental states. The inferences leading to self-knowledge, on this view, can be mediated by our background knowledge, our implicit grasp of a theory of mental states, as well as a host of behavioral, mental, and contextual cues. The role of expression in self-knowledge, on the interpretivist account, could be to create input for such inferences; finding ourselves uttering certain words (for example, “You little!” or “This is so much fun!”), out-loud or in inner speech, may add to our evidence that we are in a certain mental state (for example, anger or enjoyment). It is indisputable that inference plays an integral part in the search for self-knowledge in the difficult cases, and I will say much more about the role of inference in these cases later in the book. But self-interpretive

frustration with inconsistent beliefs, and so on) suggest that we have some substantive know­ ledge of those mental states, even when we are not actively engaged in its acquisition (for more on this, see Fernández, Transparent Minds, 2013: 12). The view may also stand in the way to treating propositional knowledge as a uniform phenomenon. For a detailed discussion of the “artifact of grammar view,” see Elizabeth Fricker (“Self-Knowledge: Special Access versus Artifact of Grammar—A Dichotomy Rejected,” 1998). Bar-On herself (Speaking my Mind, 2004: 23–4) does not opt for such a view and officially excludes self-knowledge from the scope of her theory, writing: “by itself, the Neo-Expressivist account of avowals I develop does not explain the special claim to knowledge that subjects have with respect to their present states of mind, and it does not provide an explanation of the special status of self-knowledge.”

14 Introduction inference is not the only kind of thinking or reflection that is involved in answering questions about our mental states; regarding it as such would be setting the bar too low. As Bar-On (Speaking my Mind, 2004: 302–3) notes: There is the kind of reflection involved in self-interpretation, whereby the subject puts together various facts she knows about herself in order to reach a conclusion about what she now wants, feels, etc. . . . But there is a kind of reflection whose point is, rather, to put the subject in the right position to give vent to her state, or speak directly from it. At any given moment, there is a lot that is going on in our minds. If a question arises about one particular aspect of what is going on at a given moment, we may have to pause to be able to offer an answer. But this isn’t necessarily because we must survey our mental scene with an inner eye, or theorize about the causes of our behavior; the purpose of reflection may just be to eliminate what can be described as background noise and let the right condition come to the surface, as it were.

As I will argue, speaking (or writing) from a mental state, in the direct way highlighted by Bar-On and other expressivists, provides a special route to self-knowledge—one that cannot be assimilated to inference or interpretation. Much of the book will be devoted to investigating this route. As we shall see, and contrary to what Bar-On’s quotation may suggest, expressing a mental state could itself be a challenging and protracted process. The words may not flow from us in a single outburst; and we may fall short of expressive resources, even once we have eliminated the “background noise.” Rather than passively waiting for words to come, we may actively produce words—prodding, questioning, urging, correcting, and struggling to express ourselves—while retaining voluntary control over what happens. The bulk of what we do in this process does not consist in analyzing ourselves “from a distance,” as another person would, but in directly testing the accuracy of words against our mental states, in a way no one else can; our recognition that our words capture our mental state is often immediate and non-inferential. Even when the words come from another person (for example, a therapist or a friend), there is all the difference between a detached, theoretical

The phenomenon  15 acknowledgment of the plausibility of a certain interpretation and the instant “click” that the words have hit it just right.7 Before going on to investigate the process of articulation in a systematic way, let me give a detailed description of it from my own experience. Although the details are particular to my case, cases with a similar structure can be found throughout many diverse activities. As you read through the description, I invite you to think of similar examples from your own experience and fill out the details accordingly.

4.  The phenomenon At a philosophy seminar, I find myself disagreeing with the speaker. I canot put my finger on it, but something about what is being said just does not sound right. And then it hits me; I realize exactly what is wrong with the view. The objection suddenly dawns on me, “in a flash”. Before trying to communicate my objection to the speaker, I first try to sort it out for myself in inner speech. But the task quickly proves unmanageable. So I decide to remain quiet and to get clear on the objection after the seminar ends. When I get home, with the objection still fresh in mind, I open my laptop and try to write it down. But as soon as I plunge into thinking about it, the feeling of insight fades. I find myself stuck, facing the blank screen, with only a faint sense of direction, or of what the objection could be, and unsure of how to go about articulating it. My production of words at this stage is, frustratingly, unbound by any feedback about their adequacy. I could put down “penguin” or “Julio” or “conditional”; the effect would be just the same. The individual phrases and sentences that I type stimulate neither a positive nor a negative reaction. And as I sift through various things that I could write, none of them stands out as any more fitting than the rest.

7  The difference between these two ways of forming beliefs about our mental states is crucial in the context of psychoanalytic practice. Only the latter kind of immediate recognition can lead to therapeutic success by establishing the right kind of connection to one’s mental state. And only a belief formed on the basis of such recognition can qualify as self-knowledge, in the fullest sense. For a conception of psychoanalysis that emphasizes this difference, see Jonathan Lear (Freud, 2005).

16 Introduction It is as though, trying to find my way out of the woods at night, lightning had struck and illuminated something in the distance that seemed like a road. But now the glow of the lightning has faded and I am again wandering in the darkness, not knowing whether I am heading in the right direction, or whether there was anything there at all. Lacking any overarching plan or strategy for how to articulate my objection, my mind starts to drift to various points and objections that other people in the seminar have raised. Most of the things that I consider strike me as having no special bearing on what I had in mind. But some of them appear somewhat similar or related to it. As I move to consider other things—carried along by loose chains of association—I am reminded of a familiar objection to a different view, which seems to bear some analogy to my objection. Detecting such similarities makes certain phrases and sentences more accessible, or spring more readily to mind, and leads me to try out certain partial formulations. But the similarities seem rough; and my capacity to detect them is too coarse to help me abstract the exact points of resemblance (that is, the common properties or patterns of relationships), or to narrow down the possibilities of what my objection could be by any significant extent. As I continue to rehearse words in inner speech in a more or less spontaneous and unruly fashion, certain constraints or limitations on my production of words gradually start to take hold. Many of the words that come to me and that I try out still seem neither to harmonize nor to jar with what I am thinking. But a certain sentence suddenly jumps out as one that I must definitely keep. As I pause, straining to seize hold of the objection, and with no idea of how to go on, all at once, as if out of nowhere, a surge of words comes that seems to be clearly on the right track. Once I type them, the words feel “heavy” on the page; I feel that I cannot easily erase them, or substitute them by any words with a different meaning. On the other hand, just as I come up with a plausible continuation, which seems to follow from what I had typed, I meet with resistance to putting it on the page; projecting ahead to the formulation that would result from adding it, I sense that I cannot type it without getting sidetracked and winding up with something different from my original objection. Likewise, in my impatience to get things over with, I am about to conclude that my objection is the same as one of the points

The phenomenon  17 that seemed to resemble it. But something inside me recoils and does not allow me to accept the resulting formulation in a wholehearted way. The constraints that manifest themselves in such reactions play a more decisive role in guiding me than the rough analogies and resemblances that I noticed at the start; I am more committed to adhering to them than I am to the similarity of my objection to the other points and objections that I consider. As more words continue to accumulate on the screen, my acts of combination and completion become more likely to culminate in felt success. The points and objections that previously seemed to resemble mine now strike me as clearly different. I realize that my sense of similarity must have been thrown off by some superficial features of the speakers’ choice of words or of the ways in which they framed their points or objections. At the same time, some other point, which previously seemed unrelated or “out of range,” now appears closer to what I had in mind than I initially thought. I wonder whether its formulation may not, in the end, be sufficient to capture what I was thinking. Although I am still uncertain about the exact identity of my thought, I feel that I am starting to get somewhere, to home in steadily on the objection. I spend less time guessing and waiting for words to come, and more time pressing the articulation forward with each incoming sentence. But the constraints add up and ramify uncontrollably. Each step seems to bring with it exponentially more restrictions on what I can do. One kind of difficulty—the lack of constraints—slowly morphs into another: too many constraints. I am again stuck, but this time in a different way. At the outset, I was confronted with a myriad of possible things that I could write; I had to make a choice, but each possibility that I considered struck me as capricious, no more or less appropriate than the last. Now, I sense that I cannot leave my formulation as it is, but, as I go through various ways of changing it, I feel that each of these ways is wrong, something that I cannot do either. Each substantive addition or revision seems to interfere with some necessary parts of my formulation or strikes me as superfluous or detrimental to articulating my thought. My assurance erodes. I wonder whether I have gotten muddled, or made an early mistake that makes all such changes impossible to implement, and whether the only recourse left is to start everything from scratch.

18 Introduction Just at the point when I am completely paralyzed by the constraints, repulsed by the pieces of the formulation in front of me, ready to give up, obliterate everything, and leave my desk, I realize that a part of the formulation that I thought I had to keep was not really necessary after all. My attachment to it was purely “aesthetic”—dictated solely by the medium of expression—and had nothing to do with what I wanted to express. Its presence has tangled up my efforts and barred the way to articulating my thought. Once I remove the part, a certain continuation, which formerly struck me as out of place, now latches on perfectly to what I have. I adjoin it, edit a few words, and the correction puts everything in order. As I read over what I wrote, I recognize that, even though it leaves room for polish, and could well turn out to be false, the objection is perspicuously there, staring at me on the screen. There is no longer anything that I must do to articulate it. All the requirements imposed by the thought are satisfied, and then I stop.

5. Roadmap Our starting point will be a new philosophical puzzle about cases like the one just described. The puzzle is reminiscent of the famous puzzle about inquiry in Plato’s Meno. The problem is that, in the difficult cases of articulation, coming to know what we are thinking seems to require knowing that our words capture our thoughts; yet, at the same time, having the latter knowledge itself seems to require already knowing what we are thinking. My broad aim in presenting the puzzle is to investigate cases in which we learn which mental state we have in the process of articulating or expressing it. Finding a solution to the puzzle should help illuminate this wider phenomenon. The exact scope of this phenomenon is unclear. Sartre (Being and Nothingness, 2013: 494) alludes to a version of the puzzle that applies to all thoughts: This is indeed what linguists and psychologists have perceived . . . they believed that they discovered a circle in the formulation of speaking, for in order to speak it is necessary to know one’s thought. But how can we know this thought as a reality made explicit and fixed in concepts except precisely by speaking it?

Roadmap  19 Collingwood (The Principles of Art, 1958: 111) talks about a parallel puzzle in the case of emotion: Until a man has expressed his emotion, he does not yet know what emotion it is. The act of expressing it is therefore an exploration of his own emotions. He is trying to find out what these emotions are . . . As hearing himself speak, he is conscious of himself as the possessor of the idea which he hears himself expressing. Thus two statements are both true, which might easily be thought to contradict each other: (1) it is only because we know what we feel that we can express it in words; (2) it is only because we express them in words that we know what our emotions are.

Rather than starting out by attempting to account for the phenomenon in full generality, my approach is first to figure out what is going on in the most salient instances of it, and then see how far the phenomenon extends, and how its instances are related. I think that the puzzle arises most forcefully in the case of thoughts. But some thoughts are more difficult to articulate than others. On one end of the spectrum are forbiddingly difficult thoughts that we may never manage to articulate to our satisfaction. Schopenhauer (The World as Will and Representation, 1958: p. xii) gives an example of this type of thought when contrasting his project with that of constructing an architectonic system such as Kant’s: “What is to be imparted by [the book] is a single thought. Yet in spite of all my efforts, I have not been able to find a shorter way of imparting that thought than the whole of this book.” On the other end of the spectrum are thoughts whose articulation requires hardly any thinking at all. Articulating such thoughts—for example, in everyday conversation—has the feel of running on “auto­ pilot”; the mechanics of the execution seem transparent and fall to the side. For much of the book, I will focus on “medium-range” thoughts: ones that are not so difficult that we never manage to articulate them fully, but not so easy that articulating them is entirely mindless and automatic.8 The seminar-room objection from the above scenario is one such medium-range thought. 8  For more on the process of articulating the former, highly difficult thoughts in philosophy, see Bergson’s “Philosophical Intuition” (The Creative Mind: An Introduction to Metaphysics,

20 Introduction One method that I will use liberally throughout the book is first-person phenomenological description. I take this method to be especially suitable for the subject at hand. Unlike many scientific inquiries whose subject matter is radically foreign to us, the present inquiry aims to clarify aspects of our own subjective perspective. The fact that we ourselves are the beings under investigation makes it appropriate to extrapolate from our own experience and puts us at some advantage. The phenomenological descriptions that I provide serve as data for explanation, but they are not intended to be the last word and are subject to reinterpretation. After laying out and refining the puzzle in the next chapter, in Chapter 3 I turn to argue against a deflationary reinterpretation that disputes my construal of the puzzling cases, by denying that, in such cases, we start with a thought that matches the meaning of our finished words. Such deflationists seek to reinterpret our characterization of the cases so that the puzzle never arises. On this strategy, what we do in the difficult cases does not consist in articulating thoughts already in place, but rather in using language to form new thoughts. Criticizing a wide range of deflationary views will help us to get clear on the key features of the puzzling cases and map out the variety of ways in which we can think in words. Once we have decided to reject deflationism, the central further question is whether our choices of words in the articulation process are based on reasons. Reasons-theory says “yes” and looks for some mental state that gives us a reason for accepting or rejecting words. Against the reasons-theory, in Chapter 4, I will argue that we cannot make sense of our acceptances and rejections of words by assimilating them into the reasons framework. Resolving the puzzle calls for an alternative model of rational control—one that may also be implicated in numerous other epistemologically central activities, ranging from basic perceptual categorization to sophisticated mathematical discovery. I will develop the strategy that I take to be most promising in Chapter  5. The strategy is to reject deflationism and account for the 1946). In this fascinating (and uncharacteristically lucid) essay, Bergson argues that many philosophical ideas are such that the philosopher who has them never quite manages to articulate them fully. The difficulty stems from the incommensurability between these thoughts and the means at the philosopher’s disposal for expressing them.

Roadmap  21 rationality of our responses in the articulation process without viewing them as based on reasons. On the most plausible version of the strategy that I arrive at, articulating a thought consists in moving from implicit to explicit knowledge of what we are thinking.9 Moving between the two kinds of knowledge involves “converting” the thought from one type of “format,” or informational encoding, to another. Linking these two modes of thought requires a leap of insight, and an exercise of linguistic creativity, in cases in which there is not a perfect match. In Chapter  6, I will look closely at the kind of reasoning that we engage in when we articulate a thought. Although we can articulate our thoughts without engaging in any reasoning, I will show that a certain form of reasoning does play an ancillary role in our assessment of a formulation. In being struck by a thought, we are often aware of various attitudes that we are inclined to form in response to it. In articulating a thought, we reject formulations that fail to support such attitudes in any way. By examining how our grounds for rejecting such formulations could be defeated, I will show that some of these attitudes pass through a kind of normative filter, or a rapid normative evaluation, and take some steps toward understanding the character of this evaluation. Once we are done articulating our thought, we can effortlessly articulate it again, using different words with the same meaning. But the thought may become difficult to articulate again after a while. In Chapter 7, I will argue that in many such cases (for example, during teaching, job interviews, and exams), our knowledge of the thought does not dissipate 9 The terms “making explicit” and “articulating” are commonly associated with Robert Brandom, most notably his Making It Explicit: Reasoning, Representing and Discursive Commitment (1994) and Articulating Reasons: An Introduction to Inferentialism (2000). However, despite the overlap in terminology, the focus of Brandom’s project differs from that of the current investigation in significant respects. First, Brandom is largely after an account of the grounds of intentionality—an answer to the question of what gives words and concepts their meaning. While parts of the present book do bear on this question, I am uncommitted to any specific answer to it. (I should, however, note that I am skeptical about the prospects of an “inferential role” theory, such as Brandom’s—on which symbols have meaning in virtue of their role in inference—for the simple reason that inferring seems to require operating on items that are already meaningful; for more on this, see Boghossian (“What is Inference?” 2014) and Fodor (“Having Concepts,” 2004).) The second key difference between the projects concerns the notion of “explicitation.” Although its interpretation in Brandom’s work is up for debate, I think it is safe to say that what is made explicit, for him, is always a certain dis­pos­ ition—e.g. the sentence “if Karl is a philosopher, then Karl is rational” makes explicit a subject’s disposition to infer “Karl is rational” from “Karl is a philosopher.” By contrast, what we make explicit in my core cases are occurrent states, such as our awareness of the problem with the speaker’s view.

22 Introduction altogether, but switches back to an implicit format. We can regain our explicit knowledge of the thought by engaging in an effortful process of recollection. The memory process lends itself to a variant of the initial puzzle and shares the key features of the process by which we articulate the thought, for the first time.

2 A Puzzle Our thinking can be guided by our intentions in various ways. We may intend to think about a certain topic, to solve a certain problem, to derive a logical consequence of some set of claims, to find evidence for a certain hypothesis, and so on. But the kind of intentional thinking I  want to explore in this chapter involves trying to put a particular thought into words. The aim of this chapter is to introduce a new puzzle— albeit one that will remind you of Meno’s famous puzzle about investigation: meno:  And how will you search for something, Socrates, when you don’t know what it is at all? I mean, which of the things you don’t know will you take in advance and search for, when you don’t know what it is? Or even if you come right up against it, how will you know that it’s the unknown thing you’re looking for? socrates:  I see what you’re getting at, Meno . . . The claim is that it’s impossible for a man to search either for what he knows or for what he doesn’t know: he wouldn’t be searching for what he knows, since he knows it and that makes the search unnecessary, and he can’t search for what he doesn’t know either, since he doesn’t even know what it is he’s going to search for. (Meno, 80d–e, trans. Robin Waterfield) Meno’s puzzle strikes us as a false dilemma. It may seem incredible that Socrates responded to it with his theory of knowledge as recollection. We want to say: just distinguish between having some identifying know­ ledge of a thing and having the knowledge one tries to obtain. We can acquire the latter kind of knowledge based on the former kind of know­ledge—for example, I can learn the full geography of an island by knowing its coordinates and sailing there. Whatever the merits of this

Articulating a Thought. Eli Alshanetsky, Oxford University Press (2019). © Eli Alshanetsky. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198785880.001.0001

24  A Puzzle reply to Meno’s original paradox, I will argue that there is a truly thorny puzzle here when it comes to putting our thoughts into words. The plan for the chapter is as follows. After some preliminary stage setting (Section 1), I lay out an initial version of the puzzle in Section 2. The puzzle consists of three incompatible propositions. To constitute a paradox, each proposition must seem plausible when viewed on its own. I argue that, although two of the propositions in the initial presentation are extremely plausible, there are cases in which we would not be tempted to endorse the third. In Section  3, I characterize the cases in which all three of the propositions seem compelling. Focusing on these cases, I hone my presentation of the puzzle, so as to deflect one line of response to it, in Section  4. In Section  5, I address the worry that the puzzle reduces to Meno’s original paradox. And, in Section 6, I address the worry that the puzzle does not constitute a paradox at all.

1.  Stage setting The products of cognitive capacities that we can exercise deliberately can also come to us spontaneously, seemingly of their own accord, with no discernible history leading up to their formation. Upon considering what someone says, and without actively trying to draw any inferences from it, a possible inference may simply jump out to you as compelling. While taking a walk, a smell or a sight may remind you of some past event. Certain visual images may come to you unbidden. While trying hard to focus on your work, you may be flooded by distracting plans for what to do after you are done. And, as we saw, at a philosophy seminar, you may be struck by an objection, along with various words and sentences that pertain to it. As Freud (The Question of Lay Analysis, 1926: 196) remarks: The idlest self-observation shows that ideas may occur to us which cannot have come about without preparation. But you experience nothing of these preliminaries of your thought, though they too must certainly have been of a mental nature; all that enters your consciousness is the ready-made result.

Stage setting  25 Whether or not the preliminaries Freud has in mind are genuine instances of mentality, as he claims, it is evident that many thoughts do enter our consciousness without our active involvement in their occurrence. In such cases, we do not experience ourselves as freely forming or arriving at thoughts, but experience ourselves as passive with respect to them. As Frankfurt (Identification and Externality, 1977: 240–1) notes, “it is tempting . . . to suggest that they are not thoughts that we think at all, but rather thoughts that we find occurring within us.” The thoughts that come to us in these ways rarely arrive in the form of complete sentences that express them. In many cases, we take an extra step of putting such thoughts into words. Unlike what happens in the scenario I related in the Chapter 1, articulating many such thoughts poses no special challenge. The moment you are struck by an objection in a seminar, you may have something definite in mind that you want to say. Unlike the objection from the former scenario, this objection may seem perfectly manageable. You are confident that you will be able to express it right away. You do not bother rehearsing it to yourself in inner speech. You do not try to imagine it written, or form some other type of mental picture, or anything like that. The few words and images that do flash at this moment (for example, “Aha!” or “Of course!”) fall far short of capturing your objection; hearing them spoken would not help anyone know what it is. You decide to communicate your objection and raise your hand. When you do this, several of your intentions are related to your speaking. These intentions form a hierarchy, from the most general to the most specific. One of the intentions in this hierarchy is the intention to articulate your objection, to put it into English words. This articulatory intention is more general than the intention of producing some particular set of words, phonemes, or muscle movements, but less general than the intention of refuting the speaker’s view and Grice’s communicative intention (the intention to get across the objection by means of the hearer’s recognition of that intention). In “The Stream of Thought,” William James (Principles of Psychology, 1890: 253) describes the articulatory intention like this: And has the reader never asked himself what kind of a mental fact is his intention of saying a thing before he has said it? It is an entirely

26  A Puzzle definite intention, distinct from all other intentions, an absolutely distinct state of consciousness, therefore; and yet how much of it consists of definite sensorial images, either of words or of things? Hardly anything! Linger, and the words and things come into the mind; the anticipatory intention, the divination is there no more.

You start talking and As the words that replace [your intention] arrive, it welcomes them successively and calls them right if they agree with it, it rejects them and calls them wrong if they do not.

Phenomenologically, James’s description rings true. But it is obviously just a metaphor. You do not simply deliver the words to your intention and then sit back and wait until it cranks out a response. And your intention does not literally “welcome” your words, calling them right or wrong. Rather, you actively monitor the words as you produce them and check whether they are right or wrong, appropriate or inappropriate, relative to what you want to say. A natural, literal construal of the phenomenon James has in mind is that you arrive at the right articulation by relying on your knowledge of what you are thinking and your know­ ledge of the meanings of the words that you produce. You know that you have arrived at the right articulation when your words express the content of your wordless thought. It is clear that we often try to articulate our thoughts both publicly, to communicate with others, and privately, in inner speech. But, although such cases are familiar, their structure is far less clear. To simplify the exposition, let me focus on the case where we articulate our thoughts privately, in inner speech, without intending to communicate them to others.1 The process seems to involve at least the following elements: 1 I focus on what I take to be the ordinary kind of articulation, which is restricted to thoughts and corresponds to the standard of producing words whose literal meaning matches the thought’s content. But this ordinary kind of articulation is likely to be an instance of a wider phenomenon. Another instance might be the experience of being struck by a mathematical idea and then formalizing it. William Thurston (“On Proof and Progress in Mathematics,” 1994: 167) gives a nice description of his grasp of such ideas: “When I read a mathematical paper in a field in which I am conversant, I concentrate on the thoughts that are between the lines. I might look over several paragraphs or strings of equations and think to myself ‘Oh

Stage setting  27 • a thought; • some form of conscious registration of the thought; • an intention to articulate the thought; • the activity of trying to articulate the thought; • the words and phrases that we consider in the course of the articulation; • some form of assessment of the adequacy of the articulation. Although I will say much more about the nature and interrelations of these elements in the chapters ahead, I would like to remain as neutral as possible about them in setting up the puzzle. However, since it has proven difficult to proceed fruitfully on completely neutral grounds, I will make a few minimal assumptions. As I will use the term, “thought” designates a very inclusive psychological category; though, unlike on Descartes’s use of it, it is not simply an umbrella term for cognition in general. Although the relationship between thoughts and other mental kinds, such as emotions and imaginings, is vexed, I take thoughts to be distinct from perceptions; to mention just one key functional difference, perceptions invite beliefs in a way that mere thoughts do not. Some thoughts, such as beliefs, are standing mental states. Others, such as judgments, are more naturally construed as psychological episodes or events. In both cases, thoughts are distinct from propositions, as traditionally conceived.2 Propositions are the objects, or representational contents, of thoughts. Two agents may entertain the same proposition, but there is no such thing as two agents thinking numerically the same thought. On one common use of the term, “thinking” is restricted to judging and believing. On this use of it, thinking something entails taking it to be true. But on another common use of the term, hoping, pondering, yeah, they are putting in enough rigamarole to carry such-and such idea.’ When the idea is clear, the formal setup is usually unnecessary and redundant . . . It is like a new toaster that comes with a 16-page manual. If you already understand toasters and if the toaster looks like previous toasters you have encountered, you might just plug it in and see if it works, rather than first reading all the details in the manual.” 2 On a non-traditional theory recently advocated by Soames (“Cognitive Propositions,” 2013: 480) and others, propositions are “repeatable, purely representational, cognitive acts or operations.” However, even on this view, propositions are cognitive event types, whereas I understand thoughts to be essentially tokens, or particular states of persons.

28  A Puzzle musing, wondering, suspecting, as well as judging and believing, all count as thinking. In what follows, I will use “thinking” in this broader sense. Entertaining a proposition, without committing ourselves to its truth, is one type of thought that we have; and it is perhaps even an ingredient in all the others.3 Thinking may not always be propositional, however. Some thoughts may be better modeled as questions relating us to special interrogative contents (for example, sets of admissible answers), which lack a truth-value. And some (for example, de re) thoughts about objects and properties may be best expressed by subsentential phrases (for example, noun phrases) rather than by sentences. Although the examples of thoughts throughout the book will typically involve token propositional attitudes, if we have any non-propositional thoughts, everything I say about propositional attitudes should straightforwardly carry over to them as well. A distinction that I will draw sharply in the book is between thoughts and our intentions to articulate them. Intentions may or may not be thoughts (about future actions), but many thoughts, including wordless thoughts, are not intentions. We can form our articulatory intentions either at the time of our thoughts’ occurrence or at some later point; what starts as a spontaneous and involuntary act may alternate, either immediately or eventually, with our deliberate effort of articulation. In allowing for this, I depart from views that identify wordless thoughts with intentions. Wittgenstein (Zettel, 1967: I-1 (p. 2)) seems to have such a view in mind when he writes: The thought is already complete at the beginning of the sentence. How can one know that? But the intention of uttering the thought may already exist before the first word has been said. For if you ask someone: “Do you know what you mean to say?” he will often say yes.

Often, however, we register thoughts that we would rarely intend to articulate. Looking around my room, I may be struck by the thought that the door is shut, without yet deploying any of the corresponding

3  The view that such a neutral attitude of entertaining is a component of all propositional attitudes is Fregean. For a critical discussion of this view, see Hanks (Propositional Content, 2015).

The puzzle: First pass  29 English words. After a few minutes, for kicks, I may decide to articulate the thought by muttering “the door is shut” or by rehearsing these words in inner speech; normally, of course, I would not try to articulate such a thought at all. Articulating a thought could involve intoning each of the words in the formulation, but it need not. We may get hold of a formulation as a whole, as soon as the first word is spoken, without having to go through it serially, word by word. On the understanding of articulation that I will be working with, the articulation process is complete once we select the appropriate words; the process culminates in a cognitive state, not necessarily in an utterance.

2.  The puzzle: First pass With these preliminaries in place, we can turn to the puzzle. When you register an objection in the seminar, you have the thought that p and the thought that p is an objection to the speaker’s view. At a first approximation, the puzzle can be put like this: 1. You can often (sometimes readily and sometimes with difficulty) articulate the thought that p. 2. Coming to know the correct words (that is, ones that would express your thought) requires knowing what you are thinking (that is, knowing that you are thinking that p), and having the latter knowledge before successfully completing the articulation. 3. And yet, you cannot know what you are thinking until you come to know the correct words. At first glance, propositions [1] and [2] seem extremely plausible. [1] simply acknowledges the reality of putting thoughts into words. [2] is just a more literal way of taking William James’s metaphor of our articulatory intentions “welcoming” or “rejecting” our words. Indeed, in the absence of knowledge of what we are thinking, it is hard to see how we could recognize any particular form of words that we come up with as correct. One might motivate [3] by claiming that our knowledge of our thoughts must have some conscious basis, and that the only suitable, conscious basis for this knowledge consists in the corresponding bits of

30  A Puzzle language that we rehearse in inner speech. Some prima facie support for [3] may come from the conjunction of these claims: a. Our knowledge of our thoughts must have some conscious basis, i.e. there must be some experience that informs us of what we are thinking. b. The only suitable, conscious basis for our knowledge of our thoughts consists in the bits of language that we rehearse in inner speech. c. To inform us of what we are thinking, the meaning of these bits of language must match the content of our wordless thought. Although [a]–[c] might carry some initial plausibility, they are clearly in need of much independent support.4 With regard to [a], it is not obvious that in the most basic cases in which we know what we are thinking, our knowledge of what we are thinking is arrived at by introspection, or by some active internal monitoring on our part. On the face of it, when I look at the door and see that it is shut, I know that the door is shut and that I think that the door is shut, and that I think that I think it, and so on, without having to do anything further like stepping back and reflecting on my experience. Second, even if it is true that some reflection on our experience is necessary for us to know our thoughts [a], it is hard to see why the experience would have to consist in our awareness of words [b]. As any mathematician working in a geometric field would likely attest, we often carry out elaborate sequences of thought in mental pictures and visual models.5 In a famous letter to the mathematician Hadamard, Einstein wrote that the words of language seem to play no role at all in his thinking. Rather, “the psychical entities which seem to serve as elements in thought are certain signs and more or less clear images which can be

4  For a defense of the view that our knowledge of what we are thinking is based on introspecting the corresponding words, see Byrne (“Knowing that I am Thinking,” 2008). Jackendoff (The Architecture of the Language Faculty, 1997: 186–7), gestures at a similar view: “If we can catch ourselves in the act of thinking, then, it is because the linguistic images in our heads spell out some of the steps.” 5  For more on reasoning with such models, see Johnson-Laird (How We Reason, 2006).

The puzzling cases  31 ‘voluntarily’ reproduced and combined” (The Mathematician’s Mind, 1945: 142–3). Perhaps more familiarly, our thoughts sometimes concern complex aesthetic properties and nuances of social situations. Such properties and nuances are sometimes perfectly clear to us, even if we lack the ability to put them into words. For example, while talking to a stranger at a party, I may conclude that the person is patronizing me, and politely extricate myself from the conversation. When asked why I left, I may be at a loss to articulate the evidence on which my judgment that the person was patronizing me was based. All I may say is that it was something about the person’s demeanor—for example, a mixture of tone of voice, gestures, facial expressions, and so on. It is this specific blend that I am referring to when I say that there was something about the person that led me to leave. There is nothing ineffable or elusive about it. My know­ledge of what I am thinking is as firm as it can be. No amount of further talking could make what I saw in the person clearer in my mind. Lastly, even if we take on board that knowing our thoughts requires using some symbols that ground our knowledge of what we are thinking [b], it is difficult to see why the conventional meaning of the symbols would have to “match” our thoughts [c]. In the course of intellectual work, we often arrive at ideas that seem very clear to us, but that would be extremely hard for us to convey to others. It is plausible that in many of these cases we use words, along with schematic images and other auxiliary signs, as private labels that we attach to ideas. Such abbreviations often serve as shortcuts, in working on a problem with multiple lemmas, or in navigating a complex intellectual terrain. For anyone else hearing them, these signs would seem like nonsense. But there is no reason to think that in all such cases we ourselves are ignorant of our thoughts.

3.  The puzzling cases Although there are many cases where we would not be tempted to endorse [3], there are cases with respect to which all three of the propositions still seem very plausible. The scenario that I described in detail in Chapter 1 is a paradigmatic case of this sort. In such cases, a thought strikes us suddenly, “in a flash,” in much the same way as any other

32  A Puzzle thought; we are unaware of and would be hard-pressed to repeat the processes that led to its formation. However, the thought may seem “opaque” or “clouded,” in need of “focusing” or “clarification.” Setting it out may take longer and require more effort. We may not immediately know how to articulate it or what length its articulation will be—for example, whether it will take a sentence, a paragraph or an essay. Rather than producing an uninterrupted flow of words to which we occasionally make minor corrections, we may produce one complete “candidate formulation” after another.6 When all is going well, these candidate formulations seem like more and more accurate expressions of our initial thought. But some of the formulations might be too loose or metaphorical. They may push us in the wrong direction. We may get stuck and start wondering whether there was any definite thought on our mind at all. But even in such moments, if we are presented with the right formulation, we can sometimes instantly recognize it as a formulation of our thought. One might object that my interpretation of the cases is too charitable and that, in such cases, we are refining, explicating, or analyzing a thought rather than getting an adequate formulation of the thought that originally struck us. I will look closely at such views in the next chapter. For now, let me just observe that, unlike what happens when we refine a concept or progressively fill in an inexact plan for what to say, in recognizing a formulation as adequate to our thought, we do not normally feel that there are other formulations, with different meanings, that could potentially work too. The expression of our recognition is “This is it!” rather than “This should do!” The immediacy of this recognition sets apart our activity in the target cases from philosophical analysis (for example, of concepts or properties) and rational reconstruction (for

6  This is one reason against taking articulation in these cases to be a kind of conversation, where one is trying to communicate with oneself—e.g. when encouraging oneself (“You go, girl!”) or reminding oneself of something (“Get the keys!”). Rather, articulation in these cases is more akin to the preparation of a lecture or a speech, though it also differs from these activities in important ways. Ryle (The Thinking of Thoughts, in Collected Essays: 2009, 505) makes much of this point in trying to answer what Rodin’s Le Penseur is up to when he is talking to himself, noting that Le Penseur’s task is “to compose non-conversational, internally threaded sequences of dicta . . . There are not a thousand things that he wants to be able to propound. There is one thing, even if its propounding takes 1,000 sentences.”

The puzzling cases  33 example, of moral or epistemic norms), both of which require reasoning from cases and making a precarious generalization step.7 The thoughts that occur to us in the target cases need not be especially elaborate or profound. The objection that strikes you in the seminar might also occur to the person sitting next to you. The person may be unable to put her finger on what it is, but, after hearing your formulation of it, she may realize that it captures exactly what she wanted to say, too. Indeed, the thoughts we articulate in these cases may strike us as extraordinarily simple. They may continue to strike us as such, even when articulating them turns out to be harder than we expected, and despite the increasing sophistication of our means of expressing them. Some of these thoughts may be disappointing. One may find that the exotic-seeming thought one spent so long trying to articulate expresses the familiar position that one set oneself to argue against! Some may be surprising. A philosopher may be struck by a thought, without thinking much of it, taking it to be a minor consequence of a well-established view; upon articulating it, she realizes that it is implausible enough to constitute a reductio. Some may even disturb us. Vacationing with her partner, a woman may be struck by a chilling inkling of a thought that she may not quite manage to put into words. She does not try to suppress it; nor does she put much effort into formulating it. Weeks later, at a film, a character says something that she immediately recognizes as an articulation of her thought: the realization that she could leave her family in an instant for a stranger, in a flight of passion. These reactions seem to be responses to discoveries about what we are thinking. What is crucial in these cases is that articulating our thoughts, or just being presented with their articulations, seems to be a way of gaining knowledge of what they are. In many of these cases, we would

7  Nevertheless, I think that all these activities can mutually illuminate one another. They fall under the following broader conception of analysis described by Burge (“Frege on Sense and Linguistic Meaning,” in Truth, Thought, Reason, 2005: 258): “I mean by ‘philosophical analysis’ something that would apply to much of the philosophical activity of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Leibniz and Kant, as well as to twentieth-century ‘analytic’ philosophers more specially concerned with language. Any activity at least partly aimed at understanding our ‘conceptual scheme’, our cognitive practices, is analytic in this broad sense.” What we do in the present cases is one such activity, on a more modest and personal scale.

34  A Puzzle not bother articulating our thoughts to ourselves if we already had this knowledge.

4.  The puzzle: Epistemic version Focusing on these cases, we can go into the problem in more detail. One might think: what is the problem here, really? It cannot simply be that, on the one hand, articulating our thought requires knowing what we are thinking, but that also, on the other, knowing what we are thinking requires articulating our thought. One might accept both propositions yet deny that there is a paradox, arguing that our knowledge of what we are thinking is acquired the very instant we produce the articulation. Compare: experiencing pain (arguably) requires knowing that one has the pain; but knowing that one has the pain requires experiencing the pain. This case is not problematic, since my knowledge that I have the pain can be arrived at simultaneously with the occurrence of the experience. To generate the puzzle, I stressed that we must know what we are thinking before successfully articulating the thought [2], and that we can know what we are thinking only after successfully completing the articulation [3]. One reason why [2] seems plausible is that, in the course of articulation, we sometimes dismiss certain formulations as incorrect. Our choices of words make sense to us, and so it seems that we must make them for a reason. But it is hard to see how we could have such a reason if we do not know what we are thinking. As Dennett (Consciousness Explained, 1991: 235) remarked: “human speech is purposive activity; there are ends and means, and we somehow do a passable job of traversing the various options.” But if our end is to express a particular thought, it is unclear how we could select the appropriate means for achieving it, if we lack knowledge of what we are thinking.8 8  Note that I am not looking simply for an account of the sub-personal processes involved in articulation. Nor am I looking for a general account of how verbal (e.g. communicative or articulatory) intentions are carried out; once an intention to produce some set of words is formed (if it is ever formed), I have no further question about how it is executed. What interests me is what happens in the episode leading up to the formation of such an intention. How do we move from the general intention to articulate the thought to the intention of producing a specific set of words? How do we figure out which words to produce to carry out the more general intention?

The puzzle: Epistemic version  35 However, [3] is plausible only in the sort of cases just discussed. And in these cases, we sometimes recognize that certain articulations express our thoughts simply by stumbling upon them by chance (for example, by hearing them spoken), without having to make any corrections. Moreover, when we do make corrections, much of what we are doing in articulating our thoughts seems to be a kind of groping in the dark. We try out various words, and hope that our successive formulations would “point” us to what we are thinking. But in the process of producing words, it is not obvious that we are guided by any knowledge at all. It may, therefore, seem that, in the cases in which [3] is plausible, [2] is not. This diagnosis might suffice to block the problem in its present form. But a version of the puzzle remains, even if we accept that we gain knowledge of what we are thinking the instant we produce the articulation (and hence deny that we draw on this knowledge in the process of producing it). Upon successfully completing the articulation, we find ourselves with the following items of knowledge: i. that our articulation means that p; ii. that we were (or are) thinking that p; iii. that the meaning of the articulation matches our thought. Let us grant that we come to know [i]–[iii] instantaneously. The problem is that, in the relevant cases, it seems that we acquire knowledge of what we are thinking [ii] at least partly on the basis of our recognition that the meaning of the articulation matches our thought [iii]. For if this knowledge were based directly on the thought (or our experience of the thought), we would not need to engage in articulation; we could then just as easily “get clear” on what we are thinking by reflecting on the thought (or by attending more carefully to it), without rehearsing any words. However, it is very difficult to see what this recognition [iii] could itself be based on if not on our knowledge of what we are thinking [ii], along with our knowledge of the meaning of the articulation [i]. For clearly, this recognition cannot merely be based on our experience of the words or our knowledge of their meaning. On its own, our knowledge of the agreed meaning of some arbitrary formulation that we come up with (or encounter) is not a sufficient basis for believing that the formulation

36  A Puzzle captures our thought. Without knowing what we are thinking, we seem to have no reason for picking this formulation over any other. In sum, we cannot know [iii] based on [i] and [ii], since we can only know [ii] partly based on [iii]; and we cannot know [ii] based on [i] and [iii], since we can only know [iii] partly based on [ii]. Whichever way we reconstruct the sources of our knowledge, we come out begging the question. This version of the puzzle shows that our problem has nothing essential to do with time. We can restate the puzzle in an epistemic form— eliminating references to times—in this way: A. I can articulate a particular thought that I have—for example, my thought that p. B. Successfully articulating the thought requires knowing that the meaning of my articulation matches my thought; I come to this knowledge (partly) on the basis of my knowledge of what I am thinking. C. Knowing what I am thinking requires having an articulation, and drawing on my knowledge that the meaning of the articulation matches my thought. In this version of the puzzle, we simply replace a temporal principle with an epistemic principle: Begging-the-Question:  If I come to know that p (partly) on the basis of my knowledge that q, then having that knowledge that q cannot require drawing on my knowledge that p.9 Given this principle, [A]–[C] form an inconsistent triad. Our task is to say which of the propositions should be rejected (or modified) and why. On Stephen Schiffer’s conception (The Things We Mean, 2003) of philosophical paradoxes, a happy-face solution to a paradox identifies the false proposition, shows why it is false, and how we have been misled to find it plausible. Paradoxes that do not have happy-face solutions reveal 9 Some forms of epistemic circularity are, arguably, innocuous. For example, in “rule-­ circular” cases, one justifies a certain rule by an argument that employs that very rule (given that certain constraints for the application of the rule are met). But, in the present case, the conclusion is a premise that is based on a second premise, whose justification depends on the first, so the case is more conspicuously problematic.

Transparency revisited  37 defects in our concepts. An unhappy-face solution to a paradox either suggests a workable revision in our concepts or denies that any such revision is possible. I take it to be unlikely that the present puzzle results from an underlying defect in our concepts. So we should expect the puzzle to have a happy-face solution. The strategies for resolving it are: • rejecting the reasoning that leads to the contradiction (through disambiguation); • rejecting [A]: denying the data that we relied on to present the puzzle by reinterpreting our gloss of the puzzling cases so that the ­puzzle never gets going. • rejecting [B]: denying that recognizing the right formulation requires us to draw on our knowledge of what we are thinking; • rejecting [C]: denying that coming to know what we are thinking requires us to draw on our recognition that our formulation matches our thought. Before turning to these strategies in the subsequent chapters, let me address two general worries that one may have about the puzzle at this point.

5.  Transparency revisited: Collapse to the original Meno? The first worry I would like to address comes from the transparency model of self-knowledge that we touched on in the previous chapter. As you recall, the advocate of this model argues that, in addressing questions about what we think (about an issue), we often draw not on facts about our psychology but on facts bearing on the issue itself. We figure out what we think about a topic (for example, whether the Warriors will win the championship or whether we can afford a vacation) by arriving at a considered view about that topic or making up our minds about what to think about it. In light of such cases, one might argue that what happens in the seminar–objection scenario, and other puzzling cases, is just a special case of settling what we think about an issue by settling what to think about it. Once we determine that our words express an appropriate answer—for example, pick out an inconsistency in the speaker’s claims—we acknowledge our formulation as adequate and attribute to

38  A Puzzle ourselves the thought expressed by it. If this is right, articulation, in these cases, would just be a way of carrying out an investigation. The problem of how we recognize a correct formulation of a thought would thus collapse into Meno’s paradox, which challenges the possibility of investigation in general. Let me respond to this worry by giving three reasons against assimilating what we do in the puzzling cases to what we do in cases that display the above sort of transparency. First, in assessing answers to a question, with the goal of determining what we should think, we generally care only about how good (for example, plausible, well-supported) our answers are. Forming a belief in this way requires mustering some degree of conviction in our answer. And once we assure ourselves in the answer, there is nothing to prevent us from concluding our search. By contrast, the thoughts in the puzzling cases are not always beliefs. To believe something is, essentially, to take it to be the case; an attitude qualifies as a belief only if we regard its object as true. But, unlike our self-ascription of beliefs, our self-ascription of thoughts in the puzzling cases need not involve a commitment to their truth. We can regard a formulation as capturing our thought even if, upon articulating the thought, we recognize it as false, unconvincing, and as falling short of knowledge. For example, we may recognize our thought as a misunderstanding that lay at the root of other misguided hypotheses that we have entertained. Recognizing it as such may remove its force over us, and make the other hypotheses seem less appealing.10 Second, in the puzzling cases, we often begin evaluating our thoughts for truth only after we have successfully articulated them. As Solomon (The Big Questions, 2006: 5–6) stressed in the passage I quoted in Chapter  1: “Articulating your opinions still leaves open the question whether they are worth believing, whether they are well thought out and can stand up to criticism.” If articulation leaves open these questions, 10  One might point out that transparency is not exclusively a feature of our knowledge of beliefs. A version of it may extend to desires, intentions, and other mental states—e.g. you may come to know that you want to φ by making up your mind that φ-ing is the best option. For some concerns about such extensions, see Ashwell (“Deep, Dark, . . . or Transparent?” 2013). But, whatever the prospects of such extensions may be, my point is simply that the thoughts in the puzzling cases are often ones that we entertain in a non-committal way. And, while it may be possible for us to deliberate about whether to entertain a proposition in a non-committal way (e.g. a proposition that may potentially be disturbing or distracting), this is clearly not the sort of deliberation that we engage in in the puzzling cases.

Is the puzzle a real puzzle?  39 recognizing a formulation as adequate to our thought cannot be the result of settling or closing them. Lastly, although in some cases we start expressing a view about a topic without thinking that we have any definite view to express, in the puzzling cases we usually take ourselves to have had the thought we are expressing at some prior point. In other words, we do not try to figure out what we think about an issue now that we are investigating it, but to get clearer on what we already think. Now, the best explanation of what we do in the puzzling cases may ultimately deny that, in these cases, we start with a definite thought whose content closely matches the meaning of our finished words. I will examine such views in depth in the next chapter. For now, however, it will suffice to note that, in the puzzling cases, our selection of words seems to be subject to some form of constraint imposed by a mental state that we previously register. No such constraint seems to hold when we simply try to figure out what we think about a topic by asking ourselves what we ought to think about it.

6.  Is the puzzle a real puzzle? The second worry I want to address stems from a possible ambiguity in the notion of “basing” or “drawing” that I have been using in setting up the puzzle. What is it for one piece of knowledge to “draw on” or be “based on” another? On one understanding, these phrases mean that the explanation of why a subject’s belief is a piece of knowledge is (at least in part) another belief that the subject has (which also happens to be a piece of knowledge). On another understanding, these phrases mean that the explanation of why a subject’s belief is a piece of knowledge is (at least in part) the fact that the other belief is a piece of knowledge, too. However, on the first understanding of what it is for one piece of knowledge to “draw on” another, the principle Begging-the-Question is false. Two beliefs can be mutually reinforcing in such a way that each plays a role in explaining why the other amounts to knowledge. For example, in solving a crossword puzzle, I may learn two things: (8-across)  that the answer to 8-across is such-and-such. (13-down)  that the answer to 13-down is so-and-so.

40  A Puzzle I may come to know 8-across based (in part) on 13-down, and I may come to know 13-down based (in part) on 8-across, acquiring the two pieces of knowledge simultaneously. Thus, given this ambiguity in the principle on which it relies, one might argue that the epistemic puzzle does not constitute a genuine paradox.11 One response to this worry is to opt for the second understanding of “basing,” on which the principle comes out true. But a more illuminating response is to show how the puzzle arises while avoiding references to “basing” or “drawing” altogether. This can be done by rewriting the puzzle in terms of justification instead of knowledge: B*. The justification for my belief that my formulation expresses my thought rests, in part, on my justification for my belief that I’m thinking that p. (The justification for my beliefs about the meanings of words cannot, on its own, be enough.) C*. The justification for my belief that I am thinking that p rests, in part, on my justification for my belief that my formulation expresses my thought. (Realizing that our formulation is incoherent—and so cannot express our thought—undercuts the former justification, dislodging our sense of knowing what we are thinking.) Begging-the-Question*: If my justification for p rests (in part) on my justification for q, then that justification for q cannot rest (in part) on that justification for p.12

Now, it may seem that the crossword puzzle example still falsifies Beggingthe-Question*, since the justification for 13-down rests (in part) on the justification for 8-across, and vice versa. But this need not be true. A better interpretation of the example is that I begin with some initial justification for 8-across and some initial justification for 13-down, neither of which suffices for knowledge. By putting 8-across and 13-down together, I gain additional justification for 8-across that rests (in part) on my initial justification for 13-down and additional 11  I thank Ram Neta for pressing this worry. 12  A coherentist may deny that the principle holds in the case of large and complex enough justification chains. But I take it that we can safely bracket those, since the circle in the present case is awfully small and should make even coherentists uncomfortable.

Conclusion  41 justification for 13-down that rests (in part) on my initial justification for 8-across, thereby coming to know both propositions. Consequently, my total justification for 8-across rests (in part) on my initial justification for 13-down; and my total justification for 13-down rests (in part) on my initial justification for 8-across. But this kind of reciprocal support is in line with the principle. Rather than using the crossword puzzle cases to falsify Begging-theQuestion*, one may instead use them as a model for the epistemology of recognition in the difficult cases of articulation. On such an account, we would come to know what we are thinking and that our articulation is correct simultaneously, based on the coherence of each belief with the other, just as we come to know 8-across and 13-down at the same time, on the basis of their mutual coherence. Such a solution to the puzzle would work by disambiguating between initial and total justification and arguing that [B*] and [C*] are either true and consistent with Begging-the-Question* or false and inconsistent with it. On the face of it, though, the epistemology of recognition in the puzzling cases seems very different from the epistemology of crossword puzzles. The initial justification in the crossword puzzle cases comes from clues, world knowledge, and so on. But where does the initial push of justification come from for the beliefs in the difficult cases of articulation? There may well be a way of developing such an account.13 Crucially, though, this would be an intriguing solution to the epistemic puzzle rather than a way of showing that the epistemic puzzle is not a real puzzle.

Conclusion In a nutshell, our problem was that, on the one hand, coming to know what we are thinking seems to require drawing on our recognition that 13  For example, in discussing visual recognition, Palmer (“Visual Perception and World Knowledge,” 1975: 295) asks: “How can someone recognize a face until he has first recognized the eyes, nose, mouth and ears? Then again, how can someone recognize the eyes, nose, mouth and ears until he knows they are part of a face?” Do we go from nose to face or from face to nose? Maybe we figure it out simultaneously, as we figure out the answers to a crossword puzzle. While I do not take it to be especially plausible that the epistemology of recognition in the puzzling cases is modeled after the epistemology of crossword puzzles, the model is not obviously wrong.

42  A Puzzle our formulation captures our thought; yet, on the other, arriving at this recognition itself seems to require drawing on our knowledge of what we are thinking. To put it another way, the problem was that, on the one hand, our reactions to the formulations of our thoughts, in the puzzling cases, seem to be responses to discoveries about what we were originally thinking. Articulating our thought seems to be our way of coming to know which thoughts it is. At the same time, while articulating the thought, we often confidently accept certain words, hesitate about others, confidently reject some as incorrect. Our acceptances and rejections of words make sense to us, and so it seems that we must make them for a reason. It is, however, hard to see how we could have any reason to accept/reject a formulation if we do not even know which thought we are trying to express. The two observations seem to be in tension—one that is akin to the tension in Meno’s original puzzle. The point of articulating our thought to ourselves seems to be to find out what we were thinking. But, if we do not know what we are thinking, it is hard to see how we could identify the words that express our thought. Even if we come right up against the correct formulation—for example, by hearing it voiced by a friend— how will we know that it is the formulation we were looking for?14

14  Speaking of “the” correct formulation of a thought is an expedient way of making this point. But, of course, there are likely to be multiple synonymous formulations that equally capture it. Indeed, one of the consequences of successfully articulating a thought is acquiring the ability to articulate it in multiple ways. I consider various ways of relaxing the identity conditions for the meanings of such articulations in the next chapter.

3 Deflationism Occasionally, after spending a long-time wrestling with a problem, evalu­at­ing competing accounts and getting bogged down in their details, we suddenly find ourselves occupying a perspective from which we can no longer tell what the problem was at all. It is not that the solution seems obvious. Rather, we cannot even see what had troubled us for so long. Instead of reverting to our former mindset, a “deflationist” seeks to exhibit the appropriateness of this new perspective: to find a cognitive route that would allow us justifiably to inhabit it. Can one adopt this kind of approach to our puzzle? Despite surface appearances, the function of our attributions of thoughts may not always be to represent our own or other people’s actual mental states. A student in a philosophy class may have a glimmering of an objection that he may struggle to put into words. The teacher could help him out by articulating an objection that makes sense and that seems related to what he is saying. But, although the student may enthusiastically agree that the teacher has captured what he wanted to say, one might be doubtful that this exact objection was on his mind while he was speaking. He was not thinking that very thought. He was probably just having a “vague idea” in the vicinity. The “vagueness” of the student’s idea is obviously not what philo­ sophers talk about when they talk about vagueness. The student need not be applying vague concepts to borderline cases. And his idea may involve no more (or no greater proportion of) vague concepts than the objection his teacher articulates for him.1

1  One might try to identify the “vagueness” of the student’s idea with some other kind of informational inadequacy. Coffee-stained maps, blurry photographs, and garbled recordings all have this property: each of these items functions to carry information but falls short of a certain standard. But I am not sure how to extend such an account to mental states, or what the relevant standard in the student’s case could be. Articulating a Thought. Eli Alshanetsky, Oxford University Press (2019). © Eli Alshanetsky. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198785880.001.0001

44 Deflationism Rather, one might be tempted to describe the student’s idea as “vague” because his objection does not seem to be fully worked out when he starts speaking. If he is honest and sufficiently reflective, in getting behind his teacher’s formulation, the student is likely to recognize that the teacher has captured the objection he was after, rather than any thought that he had when he raised his hand. Our attributions of thoughts in such contexts may encourage a kind of deflationary interpretation of what we do in the puzzling cases. The proponent of such an interpretation maintains that, just like the student’s acknowledgment of the teacher’s objection, our acceptance of the formulations in these cases does not consist in recognizing that they capture our wordless thoughts. Public language functions not only as a medium for expressing thoughts, but also as a vehicle for thinking: we think in words, or entertain thoughts by deploying public language sentences, whose meanings are suitably related to the thoughts’ contents. According to Merleau-Ponty in “Expression and Speech” (Phenomenology of Perception, 1962: 206): Thought tends towards expression as towards its completion. . . the thinking subject is in a kind of ignorance of his thoughts so long as he has not formulated them for himself, or even spoken and written them. . . Speech, in the speaker, does not translate already made thought but accomplishes it.

In his early writings, Sartre (“The Role of the Word in the Mental Image,” in The Imaginary, 2004: 84) suggests a similar view, saying: It is often in speaking our thoughts that we get to know [connaissance] them: language prolongs them, completes them, specifies them; what was a vague ‘airy consciousness’, a more or less indeterminate know­ ledge takes the form of a clear and precise proposition in passing into words. So that at every moment our language—whether external or ‘internal’—returns our thought to us more and better defined than as we gave it to language.

Likewise, what we do in the puzzling cases may not consist in verbalizing our settled thoughts, but in using language to form thoughts, which

Common ground  45 are merely present to us in their “contours” at the outset of articulation.2 The advocate of such a deflationary interpretation disputes the data we relied on to present the puzzle, and hence rejects the puzzle’s first prop­ os­ition [A], by denying that, in the puzzling cases, we start with a def­in­ ite thought that is present on our minds even before we articulate it.3 In this chapter, I take on two kinds of deflationists. A moderate deflationist draws an analogy between what we do in the puzzling cases and the elaboration of a plan, whose detailed implementation we work out later, as we go. Such a deflationist argues that we search for a specific formulation by means of which we could think a general type of thought, a formulation that relates to, but goes beyond, our original “hunch” or “impression.” A radical deflationist denies that we search for any fixed type of formulation at all. According to such a deflationist, our acceptance of a formulation could either be an entirely free choice, or a consequence of reaching a natural stopping point in our thinking. I consider moderate deflationism in Section  2, and radical deflationism in Section 3. However, to forestall unnecessary skirmishes, it will be useful to start off by abstracting a schematic description of a paradigm puzzling case of articulation, which the advocates of all the competing interpretations could accept as common ground.

1.  Common ground The description might go like this. At the outset, we experience an abrupt shift or a sudden wrenching in internal machinery. The machinery feels cognitive or intellectual: we want to exclaim “Aha!” or “Of course!” in the way that we do when we discover the solution to a problem or find the answer to a difficult question. The phenomenology is one 2 Although many interpreters have taken Merleau-Ponty to identify conscious thoughts with inner speech formulations (or at least to regard such formulations as constitutive of conscious thoughts), this is by no means the only interpretation. For an interpretation closer to the view I advocate here, see Walsh (“The Sound of Silence,” 2016). 3  In considering this strategy, I set aside metaphysical questions about the exact nature of the relation between our inner utterances and the thoughts we think by means of them. For a defense of the view that at least some of our thoughts are partly constituted by inner speech utterances, see Carruthers (“Conscious Thinking: Language or Elimination?” 1998). For clas­ sic­al arguments against identifying propositional attitudes with inner utterances, see Geach (Mental Acts, 1957).

46 Deflationism of insight or understanding. When the shift happens, we are aware of some words, images, as well as other affective and intellectual responses. But, apart from them, we also establish contact with something further that seems to lie at their source. Unlike what happens with our plans or intentions, which we ordinarily have no trouble communicating, we cannot, at that moment, say what that additional something is. We then proceed to say or write some words in an effortful, focused, and self-conscious way. In doing this, it is important to us that our words bear some connection to the initial wrenching or cognitive op­er­ ation that we have experienced. The “unknown something” occupies us, in some way, while we deploy the words. If all goes well, we either prod­ uce or come upon a formulation that we acknowledge as bearing the sought-after relation to the original wrenching. Our acknowledgement • immediately follows our understanding of the formulation, ­without our having to engage in any (overt) inference or reconstruction, and • facilitates our transition to (what appears to us as) a “clearer” or “better-informed” state, relative to the initial shift. This description applies to virtually all the puzzling cases that I have mentioned so far, as well as to many fumbling students. Both interpreters should accept it as a datum that there are actual cases that fit this description, and others that approximate it to some extent. However, whereas the “inflationist” says that, in these cases, we start with a def­in­ite thought, the “deflationist” denies this, and says that we are merely trying to form a thought that bears some relation to our initial mental state. One kind of deflationary interpreter, whom I will take on only briefly in this chapter, claims that there is no single type of mental state or relation implicated in all the cases that fit the above description, arguing that different things could be going on in each case. On this view, ar­ticu­ lat­ing a thought could be a motley of different phenomena that I have grouped together under a single heading. One way of responding to such a deflationist is by describing many specific examples that either fit or closely approximate the above description, and hope that their commonalities would persuade the skeptical reader that they instantiate a significant psychological kind. This is the tack I have taken so far.

Moderate deflationism  47 However, even if one is not persuaded by the examples, it is important to realize that such a response would not get one out of the ­puzzle. Whether or not the puzzling cases carve out a joint in the psycho­ logical domain, the mental states that we articulate in such cases have at least two attributes in common. First, they are “inexplicit,” or hard to put into words. Second, they are “opaque,” or difficult to know. The two difficulties aggravate one another: the inexplicitness of these states makes them harder to know, and their opacity makes them harder to articulate. Yet, somehow, we manage to break out of this predicament. A solution to the puzzle should illuminate the nature of  this predicament and how we get out. It could turn out that the category of cases that exhibit these marks is not fundamental, which may suggest that there are multiple solutions to the puzzle rather than just one. But that would make the task of responding to the puzzle harder—not easier.

2.  Moderate deflationism Another kind of deflationary interpreter, which I will call the moderate deflationist, grants that these cases admit of a common explanation, but denies that what we register at the outset is ever a psychologically real state whose content equals the meaning of our finished words. In discussing the role of language in conscious thinking, Carruthers (Language, Thought, and Consciousness, 1996: 57) distinguishes between two kinds of cases in which we may grope for words: One sort of case is where there is, indeed, a determinate thought ­present, which is expressed, at least in part, in some other form of representation. Asked for directions to the City Hall I may find myself floundering, trying to express my determinate (imagistic) know­ ledge . . . In other sorts of case I believe it can plausibly be denied that there is any determinate thought in existence prior to its linguistic formulation. . . . The situation is rather like one in which, looking at some sort of visual puzzle or maze, I can be entirely confident that the puzzle does have a solution, and a solution of a certain sort, prior to the actual discovery of that solution.

48 Deflationism The puzzling cases may just be cases of the latter sort. On this account, the transition to the “better-informed” state in these cases would be akin to the transition between a de dicto and a de re desire. When one wants something in the de dicto sense, one’s desire does not link one to any particular object—for example, a particular sloop (to use an example from Quine). What one wants is mere relief from slooplessness. As Dennett (Brainstorms, 1978: 301) explains, This is to be contrasted with wanting de re that sloop, Courageous, the sloop tied up at the slip. Now suppose I am in the former state, as in fact I often have been. Suppose I am in the market for a sloop. Now let us see what happens if I pass from that state into the presumed state of desire de re. I start out wanting something much more specific than mere relief from slooplessness, of course. I want relief from 32-to36-foot-wooden-diesel-auxilliary-spinnaker-rigged-slooplessness. And this is what I tell the boat broker. I give him a list of requirements. I want a sloop that is F, G, H, I, J, etc.

Similarly, in the puzzling cases, we might search for a formulation by means of which we could think a general type of thought that is specified by our initial mental state. In characterizing our initial state, the advocate of this account might give the following retrospective description of a paradigmatic puzzling case: While considering the speaker’s view, I was drawn to think that some parts of it were incompatible. I was confident that I could come up with a good objection to it if I tried. In writing down the objection, I teased out the particular claims that were in conflict and explained why they were inconsistent. I suppose that, every now and then, as I was doing this, I thought back to the initial impression that I had. At a certain point, I read over what I wrote and said to myself: “Yes, this looks right! This captures what I was thinking!” As I said this, I experienced a sense of clarity, of getting to the bottom of things. I felt that the problem I was trying to uncover had finally come into focus. But, of course, I didn’t really mean that this very objection was on my mind at the beginning! I wasn’t originally thinking about the specific claims

Moderate deflationism  49 and their exact points of conflict. All I had was a hunch that there was some tension (or other) in the speaker’s view. Extrapolating from the above description, one might draw an analogy between our activity in the puzzling cases and the realization of a plan or a complex intention.4 Rather than carrying the content of the thought expressed by our finished formulation, the hunch helps determine a condition our target thought has to meet. In accepting a formulation as adequate to our thought, we recognize that the thought we think by it satisfies this condition. The advocate of the present interpretation must give an account of this general condition. Our hunches often suggest to us what questions it would be profitable for us to tackle, what answers we should expect, and what methods are likely to culminate in success.5 The first account of the success condition may thus be that, in the puzzling cases, our goal is to arrive at some knowledge or understanding of an issue suggested to us by the hunch. For example, we may feel that some parts of the speaker’s view do not “mesh well,” and decide that we should investigate whether there is some inconsistency in the speaker’s claims. We may then try to arrive at a thought that constitutes the outcome of this investigation. But such a condition is at once too restrictive and too lax to track the circumstances under which we count our formulations as successful. It is too restrictive because, in many cases, such as with a novel seeming thought that proves to be false, we unreservedly accept that a formulation captures our thought, while admitting that the (disappointing) 4 In his later writings, Grice outlines a related suggestion in attempting to account for enthymematic reasoning, or reasoning in which some premises are “suppressed.” Having noted that much of our reasoning takes this form, Grice gives an example of a student who elaborates some of the missing premises of an argument she had given. Regarding the student’s claim of having the premises in mind, he says: “Avowals in [the student’s] context . . . are not so much reportive as constructive . . . One might perhaps see an analogy between avowals in this area and the specification of plans. If someone has propounded a plan for achieving a certain objective, and I ask him what he proposes to do in such-and-such a contingency, I expect him to do the best he can to specify for me a way of meeting that contingency, rather than to give a his­tor­ic­ al­ly correct account of what thoughts he had been entertaining” (Grice, Aspects of Reason, 2001: 13). 5  For a discussion of other kinds of hunches or “intuitions” in mathematics, along with their systematic pitfalls, see Feferman (“Mathematical Intuition vs Mathematical Monsters,” 2000).

50 Deflationism thought that we thereby attribute to ourselves, sadly, does not after all amount to knowledge or understanding. It is too lax because we can reject a formulation, even though we recognize that it embodies exactly the kind of knowledge or understanding that we tried to achieve with our thought. For example, upon registering the objection, we may be able to say no more than that something about what the speaker is saying seems odd, “fishy,” or disconcerting. In ar­ticu­ lat­ing the objection, we may come upon a convincing counterargument, or find some problem or counterexample that affects the speaker’s view. But the argument may seem too strong to be the one we originally thought of; the problem may seem more serious than the one that we detected; the counterexample may seem more elaborate than the simple thought that came to us first. Upon considering the formulations of these thoughts, we may concede that they also work (or even work better than what we were thinking), but nevertheless deny that they capture what we had in mind. On a second account of the success condition, our thought is about the hunch—for example, the quality of our initial feeling or impression. But it is evident that the thought that we entertain by our formulation does not describe or characterize a hunch. Rather, our formulation merely states an objection to the speaker’s view. The words we use to express the objection need not contain any reference to a mental state. And, unlike ordinary descriptions, which leave our experience of their objects unchanged, articulating the thought alters the way in which our initial state is presented. On a third account of the success condition, the thought justifies the hunch. For example, we may set out to formulate a thought that un­covers an inconsistency in the speaker’s view. But, failing to articulate such a thought, we may (seamlessly) fall back on articulating a thought that lends some support to our hunch, along with its accompanying reactions, and that would make sense for us to have, given our beliefs and self-conception. Now, it is correct that we sometimes inadvertently confabulate ­reasons for our reactions. And the opinions and positions that we set out to articulate are often malleable, and may differ from those we ultimately express; there are times when we start talking while wanting to say one thing, but then get diverted and say something else. But

Moderate deflationism  51 articulating our thoughts in the puzzling cases is markedly an i­ntentional and self-conscious process. In engaging in it, we often try hard to stick to our initial idea. And so, it is hard to believe that we would systematically overlook the above sorts of changes in our objective, and take our formulations to accord with thoughts that we were trying to articulate all along. Moreover, articulating our thoughts in the puzzling cases appears to constitute some kind of cognitive accomplishment, both when we ar­ticu­late a thought that amounts to knowledge or understanding and when the thought we articulate comes out false. But what, on the present account, could the cognitive accomplishment in the latter, disappointing cases be? On the one hand, we do not learn anything about the topic, or subject matter, of our thought, since our thought does not amount to knowledge or understanding. But, on the other, we do not learn anything about our (initial) thought, since the proponent of this account denies that we had any such thought to begin with. It is, therefore, unclear how articulating our thoughts in these cases could serve any (non-trivial) cognitive function that we might care to realize, at all. A further problem for this account of the success condition comes from the attitudes that we are moved to form in response to our thoughts. The proponent of the present account would have to say that such attitudes are not prompted by our thoughts, but figure in the specification of the functional (for example, inferential) role of the thoughts we try to form. But throughout the course of articulation, the thought can serve as a source of new attitudes. On the present account, the new attitudes in such cases would enter into the success condition, and in so doing alter the (type of) thought that we are trying to think. But in many of the puzzling cases our goal in articulating our thoughts is just to ­finish—to be done. So it is hard to see what could possibly move us to contrive such additional work for ourselves. A fourth, and more inflationary, account of the success condition is that we are after a more intimate relation between the content of the hunch (that is, what it points to or represents) and the content of the thought (that is, the objection). For example, rather than representing a determinate objection, the hunch may delineate a range of possible objections that fit with it. We may then try to home in on one of the objections in the range. Our difficulty in rendering the hunch in precise

52 Deflationism language may thus stem from the fact that the hunch itself is imprecise.6 Alternatively, the hunch may represent some precise property of the speaker’s view (a tension), without thereby representing its components (the conflicting claims). In articulating the thought, we may represent the components of this property (the claims) and display how they fit together (spell out the points of conflict). However, it seems that, on the first version of the account, we would just be refining the content of the hunch, whereas, on the second version, we would just be analyzing it.7 And so, given that our refinement and analysis of other things (for example, concepts) is unaccompanied by an immediate recognition of success, it is hard to see why such an immediate recognition would be a feature of our refinement and ana­ lysis of the contents of hunches.8 One last account of the success condition, which now could just as easily be glossed as an inflationary proposal, is that the hunch and the thought represent the very same objection, but the thought represents the objection in a “better” way. The two representational vehicles might be akin to two newspaper articles that inform us of all the same aspects of a situation. The information in the articles is equally complete; neither of them misses a fact or reports a fact not reported in the other. But one of the articles may be better organized or more concise, or include helpful charts and figures, and so on.9 Something like this disparity is arguably exhibited in our ways of representing numbers. For example, we may think of the number 7 as the 6  Russell (The Philosophy of Logical Atomism, 1985: 179–80) expresses a similar view about what we do in articulating many philosophical thoughts: “The process of sound philosophizing, to my mind, consists mainly in passing from those obvious, vague, ambiguous things, that we feel quite sure of, to something precise, clear, definite, which by reflection and analysis we find is involved in the vague thing that we start from, and is, so to speak, the real truth of which that vague thing is a sort of shadow.” 7  For more on refinement, see Field (“Theory Change and the Indeterminacy of Reference,” 1973). For more on analysis, see King (The Nature and Structure of Content, 2007: ch. 7). 8  One might argue that our sense of recognition is occasioned by our lack of exposure to alternatives. Since we are aware of only one precisification, we have a feeling of instant recognition. Were we to consider multiple options, we would have to deliberate and decide which one is best. However, the recognition in the puzzling cases often comes after we have considered many different formulations. So, there is no reason to think that it results from mere neglect. 9  In a limiting case, the content of the target thought may include “canonical” ways of thinking. Such ways of thinking are invoked by Chalmers (“Propositions and Attitude Ascriptions,” 2011) and Peacocke (“Frege’s Hierarchy,” 2009). An interesting suggestion that invokes such ways of thinking, and that bears some relevance to the issues discussed in this essay, is in Kripke (“Frege’s Theory of Sense and Reference,” 2008).

Moderate deflationism  53 referent of “111” (in binary). We may then think of it as the referent of “7.” Although we represent the same number in both cases, there is a sense in which the second way of representing it is “better” than the first. One indication of this is that, in thinking of 7 using “111,” we may, for a while, remain ignorant of the identity of the number we are representing; figuring it out may require performing a quick calculation. But we cannot use the numeral “7,” with full understanding, without thereby knowing which number we are thinking about. The trouble is that, on its own, our use of “7” to represent 7 does not guarantee that we will know—and a fortiori know right away—that we are thinking of the very same number as the one we were representing by “111.” And so, it is unclear why thinking of the objection in the “better” way that corresponds to the thought would allow us to know (immediately) that we are thinking of the very same objection that occurred to us in the seminar and that we were representing by the hunch.

2.1.  A richer conception of the thought A residual worry that one may have at this point is that the success conditions that I considered may not be substantial enough. Could not the explanation for why we reject some formulations be that the hunch determines a highly specific set of conditions? For instance, you may first conceive of your thought not only as an objection to some part of the speaker’s view (argument A) but as an objection that has various other features (F1 . . . Fn). You figure out what objection you have by answering the question, “What would a plausible objection to argument A be that has features F1 . . . Fn?” Articulating a thought, on this suggestion, would be akin to searching for an apartment to buy or rent. You start with a checklist of features: within a certain budget, within a certain radius, within certain sorts of surroundings, and so on. And when you find a place that optimally satisfies those features, you may feel as if you have “found what you were looking for.” Nevertheless, what you were looking for is general, and what you find is specific.10 10  I thank an anonymous referee from OUP for raising this worry and Ram Neta for the apartment analogy.

54 Deflationism Unlike apartment hunting, however, articulating a thought does not have the phenomenology of checking off features. More importantly, if our initial state does determine a highly specific set of conditions, it is not something we can normally report or use in planning what to say. Hunches, by contrast, are readily accessible and reportable. For example, while playing chess, I may have a hunch that I could checkmate by moving my rooks in a certain way. In this case, I could easily tell you what my hunch is, and take it into account in planning my next move. But, if the state that determines the conditions is not a hunch, in the ordinary sense, it is unclear what it could be, why the conditions it determines are inaccessible, and why it can encode only general features of thoughts and not complete thought-contents. Nor is it clear how we can tell that the specific conditions it determines are met. It is true that, when we start articulating our thought, we often have a general conception of what it is (for example, that it is an objection, that it uncovers a tension, that it concerns an ambiguity, and so on) and then move to more specific knowledge of it. However, our conception of the thought is often minimal and the formulations that we accept/reject need not align with it. A friend may suggest an objection that satisfies all our explicit criteria, but the objection may leave us cold. Conversely, the thought we end up articulating may lack many of the features we expected it to have (think of the exotic-seeming thought that turns out to express the familiar view of our opponent!). Such discrepancies between our conception of what we are looking for and what we end up finding would be bizarre in the context of apartment-hunting but are commonplace in the case of memory search. Think of trying to recall a name—for example, of an actor. When you start, you may have in mind some general features of the name: that it names an actor, starts with an “R,” has three syllables, and so on. However, once the right name comes, you may realize that it starts with a “B” rather than with an “R” and has two syllables instead of three.11 Your initial conception of the name would not be enough to recognize this. Memory itself picks up the slack,

11  Although the name that we recall may lack some of the features we expected it to have, there are, curiously, certain limits to this,—e.g. the name could be “Brad,” “Bruce,” or “Barry” but probably not “Ignatz.” Likewise, although our thoughts can surprise us, they can do so only within certain limits, and we usually have some inkling of what such limits are.

Radical deflationism  55 which is part of the reason why we are tempted to posit a memory representation in the first place.

3.  Radical deflationism Rather than trying to provide increasingly more specific conditions on articulation, the deflationist may take a more radical approach, by denying that our self-ascriptions of thoughts, in the puzzling cases, are based on our recognition that they meet any pre-set condition at all. I now turn to consider two versions of this proposal.

3.1.  Free decision view On the first version of radical deflationism, our initial state may consist in a surge of confidence, our awareness of the activation of our general faculty for thinking, along with some words, images, certain “rough” intimations, or ordinary thoughts, which leave out connections and which we would have no trouble articulating on their own. Past this initial event, we may go on to try to think some coherent thought, in words, that is in some way connected to our topic. Our initial confidence and enthusiasm may ebb and flow throughout the process and fall prey to various conflicting feelings and inclinations, sometimes forcing us to desist. But, crucially, our acceptance of a formulation as adequate to our thought is, at bottom, a decision—a free choice. In making such a choice, we may be swayed by numerous factors, which could vary from person to person. A defeated and unconfident person might be more likely to choose to self-attribute a common misunderstanding, whereas someone more robust and ambitious might be more likely to keep searching for something smarter and more laudable. In believing that there was a def­ in­ite thought that was present in our minds from the very beginning, and that determines the correctness of our words, we are thus engaged in a kind of self-deception, in hiding our true freedom from ourselves. Now, it is true that people can succumb to various and sundry types of self-deception. And it is undeniable that there are many cases in which we freely and spontaneously form our thoughts in the process of

56 Deflationism writing or speech. But it is hard to find any concrete reason (other than just the wish to skirt the puzzle) for saddling us with such a grim condition, by assimilating all the problematic cases to cases of this sort.12 Indeed, the prevailing overestimation of our personal freedom and the corresponding underestimation of the powers exerted on us by our thoughts, which may account for the superficial allure of the free decision view, seem to me to be a source of many unfortunate hurdles and mistakes. Speaking from my own experience, it seems to me that, once we embark on, or will ourselves into, the process of articulation, the real self-deception (to which I have often succumbed) lies in believing that we could finish it, whenever we so choose, by willing ourselves to do it hard enough. To be sure, it may always be possible to escape or extricate ourselves from the process. An intriguing way to do this is by dissociation—by ceasing to conceive of ourselves as engaged in it. For example, in ar­ticu­ lat­ing the objection that struck me in the seminar, I may despair, forget all about it, and resolve to articulate some objection, or the cleverest objection that I can. While engaged in the process, I may no longer think of what I am doing as connected to the “opaque” thought that first struck me. Nevertheless, all the while, the thought may still continue to exert its power on me through its traces or signatures, which spor­ad­ic­al­ly find their way into my experience, and that I may senselessly fail to connect to it. I may, for instance, inexplicably find myself cringing at the sight of other, perfectly tenable and coherent objections. Undertaking a feasible plan for what to say or write, I may unaccountably find myself unable to bring myself to carry it out all the way through. Like a helpless Tourette’s patient, I may constantly feel inclined to say certain things, which may strike me as “natural” or “intuitive,” without seriously asking myself what it is that stands behind these inclinations. Some things may simply strike me as off while others may strike me as “primitively” appropriate, without me ever pausing to ask myself why it is that I am moved to regard them as such. However, once 12  And besides, why would we even have the initial confidence in having a definite thought? After all, we could feel confident in our ability to express some thought or other without feeling that there is some particular thought that we are trying to express—e.g. while taking a test, we may feel confident in our ability to produce an answer, without feeling as though there is some specific answer, distinct from any other, that we are trying to articulate.

Radical deflationism  57 I finish, I may instantly recognize that my formulation captures my initial objection, and that, without realizing it, I have, in fact, been actively articulating it this whole time. A more usual way of extricating ourselves from the articulation process is by quitting—by moving on to do other things. With luck, doing those other things would result in the gradual erosion of the process, until any trace of the thought in our experience is fully gone. Such an uprooting or termination can be beneficial in the case of false, useless, and pernicious thoughts. In such cases, we may neither know nor care to find out what it was that we were thinking; a wise teacher diagnoses such thoughts in us, in an incipient form, through our inarticulate mutterings and verbal inclinations, and cuts them off at the stem. However, once we have entered the process, it is often easier, and more illuminating, to bring it to completion, rather than termination.13 And, in some cases, the only way out to completion is by letting go of what we wanted and expected the thought to be, and by giving up the attempt to mold the formulation to our personal preferences.

3.2.  Thinking-project view Let us move to a second version of the radical deflationist proposal. Like the previous version, this account denies that the thoughts that we try to form, in the puzzling cases, are intended to meet some pre-set condition. However, unlike the previous version, this account does not hold us to be subject to self-deception. On this account, once we begin our “thinking-project” (for example, of coming up with an objection), we attach a “tag” or a “label” to it, creating a kind of associated “project-file.” Upon initiating the project, we become emotionally invested in it. When this happens, we can neither

13  Indeed, in some cases, completing the process might be the only way to eradicate certain deeply entrenched and oppressive thoughts. If this is right, gaining a better understanding of articulation could help with curing—as opposed to just allaying the symptoms of—various psychological ailments and disorders. The subject is closely connected to Freud’s discussion of the psychoanalytic process of “working through” (e.g. in Remembering, Repeating and Working Through, 1914). Delving into these interesting and important issues will have to wait for another occasion.

58 Deflationism erase the file nor finish the project by a mere act of will. We can work on the project on-and-off, though returning to it may sometimes take us some effort. While we are not actively engaged in the project, and are attending to other things, various sub-personal processes may keep subserving the project and drawing us back to it. These processes may interact with our other process and capacities, move us to various reactions, and deliver us words and ideas that could potentially pertain to the project. As long as the project is incomplete, we have no positively true or false thought that is associated with it. Thus, rather than misrepresenting our thoughts, the obscure and incomplete formulations that we prod­uce, while working on the project, accurately reflect the project’s unfinished state. Which thought results from the project is a function of what we do, along with many other cognitive and circumstantial factors outside of our control. In some cases, the thinking-project may be doomed from the start. There may be no way to finish it: the only way out may be to drop it, cut our losses, and hope for termination. A vivid (and scary) picture of the dangers that might befall someone caught up in an ill-fated thinkingproject emerges in the following description by Peirce (“How to Make our Ideas Clear,” 1878: 289): It is terrible to see how a single unclear idea, a single formula without meaning, lurking in a young man’s head, will sometimes act like an obstruction of inert matter in an artery, hindering the nutrition of the brain, and condemning its victim to pine away in the fullness of his intellectual vigor and in the midst of intellectual plenty. Many a man has cherished for years as his hobby some vague shadow of an idea, too meaningless to be positively false; he has, nevertheless, passionately loved it, has made it his companion by day and by night, and has given to it his strength and his life, leaving all other occupations for its sake, and in short has lived with it and for it, until it has become, as it were, flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone; and then he has waked up some bright morning to find it gone, clean vanished away like the beautiful Melusina of the fable, and the essence of his life gone with it. I have myself known such a man; and who can tell how many histories of circle-squarers, metaphysicians, astrologers, and what not, may not be told in the old German story?

Radical deflationism  59 But although some of our thinking-projects may be misconceived and hopeless, for the most part, when the project starts, there is no fact of the matter as to which thought (if any) it is bound to yield. Analogously to what happens with the resolution of certain perceptual in­de­ter­min­ acies, the thinking process could, in principle, exhaust itself at one of many points of equilibrium. Our recognition that a formulation captures our thought could thus consist in our awareness that our project has reached such a stable resting point. This model describes a cognitive activity that we plausibly carry out in some cases. However, I will argue that our acceptance of a formulation as adequate to our thought, in the puzzling cases, cannot merely consist in our recognition that our thinking process has reached such a point of equilibrium. On the project view, our activity in the puzzling cases is akin to what we do when engaging in many of our epistemic projects—for example, the project of figuring out whether p is true. Our epistemic projects are typically sparked by our genuine interest in some question. Just as in the puzzling cases, the exact point at which our epistemic project is finished is not something we can directly control: we cannot raise our confidence in our answers by a mere decision, or artificially force ourselves to be content with any arbitrary answer that we come up with. Nor can we always terminate our epistemic projects by an act of will: even when we take a break from working on them, various unconscious processes may keep drawing us back to them—for example, by delivering us potential answers, solutions, and observations. Poincaré describes this sort of interplay between conscious and unconscious work in his discussion of mathematical discovery. Talking about his own creative process, Poincaré (“Mathematical Discovery,” in The Foundations of Science, 1946: 387–8) famously recounts various incidents when, while taking time away from a problem, after weeks of painstaking and seemingly fruitless work on it, he was unexpectedly struck by a sudden breakthrough: We entered an omnibus to go some place or other. At the moment when I put my foot on the step the idea came to me, without anything in my former thoughts seeming to have paved the way for it, that the transformations I had used to define the Fuchsian functions were

60 Deflationism identical with those of non-Euclidean geometry. I did not verify the idea; I should not have had time, as, upon taking my seat in the omnibus, I went on with a conversation already commenced, but I felt a perfect certainty. On my return to Caen, for conscience’ sake I verified the result at my leisure. One day, going along the street, the solution of the difficulty which had stopped me suddenly appeared to me. I did not try to go deep into it immediately, and only after my service did I again take up the question. I had all the elements and had only to arrange them and put them together.

According to Poincaré, such breakthroughs result from the working of an unconscious process, set in motion by his former period of conscious work. As long as the project remains unfinished, the unconscious process may keep delivering potentially useful ideas, months and years after Poincaré has stopped consciously working on the problem. As Poincaré admits, the solutions that come from such processes are usually only partial and can mislead. But it could also happen that the process de­livers the same correct idea for a solution, many times over, without Poincaré’s recognizing it as such: each time it comes, Poincaré may find one reason or another to reject it, until it finally hits him that the idea is right.14 We will look more closely at the workings of such processes in the following chapters. But, for present purposes, let me just highlight one striking feature of these processes, which Poincaré does not pick up on in his discussion. The following bizarre scenario may help bring it out: Mad Poincaré:  Having verified and published the solution to the difficulty that had stopped him, Poincaré is still frequented by scores of spontaneous and incomplete ideas for how to solve it. A month later, while on a mining expedition, the very same solution that Poincaré has already given strikes him, with the same characteristics of brevity, suddenness, and immediate certainty. Poincaré brushes off the idea with annoyance, attending to other things. But a year later, to his nuisance, the subliminal process suddenly comes alive again and starts cranking out additional half-baked ideas. 14 For more on such processes in mathematics and other creative pursuits, see also Hadamard (The Mathematician’s Mind, 1945).

Radical deflationism  61 What makes the case bizarre is not simply its statistical unlikelihood. This scenario seems possible and does not seem to be an instance of irrationality, in the practical or epistemic sense: the psychological processes at play in this scenario are somewhat divorced from ordinary rational evaluation. Nevertheless, it seems clear that what goes on in this scenario is defective in some way. The defect lies in the fact that the unconscious process that in fact facilitates Poincaré’s conscious work is exquisitely attuned to Poincaré’s own epistemic standards and goals. Contrary to what happens in the counterfactual scenario, once a solution comes that Poincaré himself deems satisfactory, the work of the unconscious process stops. To be sure, at a later point, Poincaré may start questioning his solution, and the work of the process may resume. But, crucially, the point at which the process winds down is determined not by some feature of the process, but by Poincaré’s own evaluation of its result. The same applies, more widely, to our more mundane epistemic projects: once we are satisfied with a certain answer—that is, once our confidence in it reaches a certain level—the work of the unconscious processes that facilitate our deliberate work on the questions cease. We may, of course, start doubting and reassessing our answers, and the work of such processes may resume. But the point at which these processes come to rest is a function not of what goes on with them, but of our own assessment of the adequacy of our answers. It would be interesting to understand what imposes the pressure on the generation of hypotheses to stop—for example, what is the nature of the mental state that imposes that pressure (on the face of it, it does not seem to be a regular judgment— but then what is it?), and what is the nature of the pressure imposed? Taking up these questions at this stage, however, would take us too far afield. For present purposes, it is enough to observe that it is something about our own evaluative reactions that settles that the processes come to rest. The same is true of the spontaneous processes that facilitate our activity in the difficult cases of articulation. In articulating a thought, the thought often inclines us to various words and reactions. But, as soon as we recognize a formulation as adequate to our thought, we are no longer bombarded by words and are no longer moved to any reactions in response to the thought. Instead, we can freely express the thought and

62 Deflationism make inferences from it, whenever we like. Our acceptance of a formulation as correct has the effect of stopping not just our own activity, but also the work all the sub-personal processes that sub-serve it. The problem with the thinking-project view is that, under it, our recognition of the correct formulation is based on the fact that our thinking process has reached a stable resting point. But our recognition is the very thing that brings the process of articulation to such a resting point. So, the fact that the process comes to rest cannot be the basis for this recognition. What, then, is the basis for it? As I have stressed, our reason for accepting a formulation cannot be its conformity to our epistemic standards and goals. Unlike our work on epistemic projects, the process of articulation is often complete, even if we arrive at something that we do not, at that time, regard as knowledge or understanding.15 And so, the present account fails to explain why it makes sense for us to select one formulation over any other. We are left with no plausible basis for this choice, and no other account that displays its intelligibility, from the first-person point of view.

Conclusion This concludes my discussion of the deflationary solutions to the puzzle. In considering these solutions, I first gave a schematic description of a paradigmatic case of articulation, which all the disputants could accept as common ground. I then proceeded to show that neither of these solutions provides a convincing, and suitably general, explanation of what we do in cases that fit the schematic description. The breakdown of the deflationary views that I considered is given in Figure 3.1. Against the moderate deflationists, I argued that our recognition of the correct formulation is not based on the fact that the formulation describes, justifies, analyzes, refines, or, indeed, even provides a superior 15  According to Frege (Posthumous Writings, 1991: 185): “To think is to grasp a thought. Once we have grasped a thought, we can recognize it as true (make a judgment) and give expression to our recognition of its truth (make an assertion).” Unlike the beliefs that we form when engaging in our epistemic projects, the thoughts we articulate in the puzzling cases are often ones we entertain, without yet making any judgment. We recognize them as truth/false only after we articulate them.

Conclusion  63 Deflationists

Moderate deflationists

Radical deflationists

Free decision view

Thinking project view

Figure 3.1.  Breakdown of deflationary views

representational alternative to some further mental state, such as a hunch. I then argued that our acceptance of the formulation is not merely a free decision—showing this view to be both unmotivated and incompatible with the degree and kind of control that we have over the articulation process. Finally, I argued that our acceptance of the formulation does not consist in our recognition that our thinking process has reached an equilibrium point. An overarching problem for deflationism is that it does not explain the extent to which our search for a correct articulation is constrained by what we already have in mind. We do not merely have a hunch that we will reach some natural resting place (or other) if we keep pursuing the articulation. We reject certain objections and stopping points as not capturing what we had in mind, even though we may regard them as sound objections or natural stopping points. I submit that the simplest and only tenable option is to take appearances at face value. In accepting a formulation, we recognize that it expresses our thought—the very same thought that struck us at the start. Evaluating the former deflationary views has allowed us to get clearer on some of the key features of the puzzling cases, which include: • inaccessibility of the initial state: at the outset, the thoughts in the puzzling cases are unavailable to reasoning and reporting; • character of what we learn: arriving at the better-informed state in these cases is not just a matter of learning the appropriate words; nor does it consist in obtaining some knowledge or understanding suggested by a hunch;

64 Deflationism • reconfiguration of control: while we articulate them, the thoughts continually incline us to say and think various things; once these are articulated, we are no longer passive with respect to them, but can actively reason from them, and say what we think, whenever we like. Encouragingly, analogues of these features figure in Collingwood’s description (The Principles of Art, 1958: 109–10) of emotional expression: When a man is said to express an emotion, what is being said about him comes to this. At first, he is conscious of having an emotion, but not conscious of what this emotion is. . . . While in this state, all he can say about his emotion is: ‘I feel . . . I don’t know what I feel.’ From this helpless and oppressed condition he extricates himself by doing something which we call expressing himself. This is an activity which has something to do with the thing we call language: he expresses himself by speaking. It has also something to do with consciousness: the emotion expressed is an emotion of whose nature the person who feels it is no longer unconscious. It has also something to do with the way in which he feels the emotion. As unexpressed, he feels it in what we have called a helpless and oppressed way; as expressed, he feels it in a way from which this sense of oppression has vanished. His mind is somehow lightened and eased . . . Suppose the emotion is one of anger . . . If it is expressed, for example by putting it into hot and bitter words, it does not disappear from the mind; we remain angry; but instead of the sense of oppression which accompanies an emotion of anger not yet recognized as such, we have that sense of alleviation which comes when we are conscious of our own emotion as anger, instead of being conscious of it only as an unidentified perturbation.

I take it that the notion of consciousness that Collingwood has in mind is not that of phenomenal consciousness, or awareness. As Solomon (Not Passion’s Slave, 2003: 181) remarks: In the sense of consciousness as awareness, every emotion is (necessarily) conscious. In the sense of consciousness as articulate and selfconscious reflection, an emotion can become conscious only if one has

Conclusion  65 (at the minimum) a language with which to “label” it and articulate its constituent judgments.

The latter sense of consciousness is closer to what I have been calling “knowledge of what we are thinking.” Once we express an emotion, and come to know which emotion it is, we still have the same emotion as before: the same affective “kernel” is present in our minds from start to finish. But we are no longer “oppressed” or “pushed around” by it.16 Likewise, but less conspicuously so, once we articulate a thought, we keep thinking the same thought. But our relation to it shifts. 16  The role of language in the regulation of emotions has been studied and overwhelmingly confirmed by contemporary empirical research. For recent reviews, see Torre and Lieberman (“Putting Feelings into Words,” 2018) and Lindquist et al. (“Language and Emotion,” 2016).

4 Reasons Theory If I have exhausted the justifications I have reached bedrock, and my spade is turned. I am inclined to say “This is simply how I act.” —Wittgenstein

Given our rejection of the deflationary approach, we are left to confront the problem head on. How do we recognize the correct formulations of our thoughts? What sort of state is this recognition? What, if anything, is its basis? How does it lead us to, or ground, our knowledge of our thoughts? It would not do to reply that we are disposed to recognize the correct formulations when we find them. Though strictly true, such an account is far too thin; we would like to know how the disposition works, or what the psychological processes that underwrite it are. Moreover, not just any true account of the psychological processes that underwrite the disposition would constitute a solution to the puzzle. Any solution that invokes sub-personal processes and states must tell us how such processes and states interface with what we do on the personal level. To explain why we see fit to accept or reject certain words, one may start by trying to locate our reasons for these reactions. I call this ­general approach to the puzzle “reasons theory.” An explanation that appeals to reasons may seem like the only chance of explaining why these reactions make sense from the first-person point of view. For how could our choices of words so much as be intelligible to us if we see no reasons for them? And what does it even mean for a choice (or any other response) to be intelligible to a person, other than that the person sees some reason in light of which it makes sense? Despite the seeming inescapability of this approach, the aim of this chapter is to convince you of its futility.

Articulating a Thought. Eli Alshanetsky, Oxford University Press (2019). © Eli Alshanetsky. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198785880.001.0001

The Aristotelian account  67 The reasons for our choices of words may come from a number of different sources.1 One kind of reasons-theorist argues that our reasons come from some knowledge we have of our thoughts. The knowledge we have of our thoughts could be either partial or complete. In Section 1, I  consider a solution—analogous to the one Aristotle gives to Meno’s original paradox—on which we inferentially reconstruct what we are thinking on the basis of partial knowledge. In Section  2, I consider a Socratic solution, on which we come to know what we are thinking by drawing on our complete (but latent) knowledge of the thought. In Section  3, I consider a different kind of reasons theory, on which our reasons come from feelings that result from sub-personally matching our thoughts with our words. A crucial problem for this view lies in accounting for our difficulties in articulation. I will argue that the difficulties that we face in the articulation process do not result from malfunctions in the matching mechanism and explain why we should not attribute these difficulties to performance errors, more generally.

1.  The Aristotelian account The first kind of reasons theory I want to consider seeks a solution of the kind that has been traditionally given to Meno’s original paradox—­ tra­cing the error to the reasoning that leads to the contradiction. Such a solution goes at least as far back as Aristotle, who remarked: “it is quite possible for us to know in one way what we are learning, while being ignorant of it in another way. For what is absurd is not that we already know in some way the very thing we are learning; the absurdity arises only if we already know it to the precise extent and in the precise way in which we are learning it” (Posterior Analytics I.1, 71b5–10, trans. Irwin and Fine). In a similar vein, one might argue that the articulation puzzle rests on an equivocation on the phrase “knowledge of what we are thinking.” In articulating a thought, we bring to bear one kind of know­ ledge of it in order to arrive at another. Just as in ordinary cases of 1  As I will elaborate, I take reasons to be considerations that bear in favor of a response, rather than mental states. In saying that our reasons “come from” or “are given by” some mental states, I mean that the mental states or their contents feature in such considerations.

68  Reasons Theory inquiry, we do not start from a cognitive blank. Here, too, we use our partial knowledge of a thing (in this case: a thought) to arrive at more complete knowledge of it. Let me be more concrete. As you recall, our puzzle—in its epistemic form—was that, on the one hand, knowing that our words capture our thought seemed to require drawing on our knowledge of what we are thinking [B]; but, on the other hand, knowing what we are thinking seemed to require drawing on our knowledge that our words capture our thought [C]. The proponent of the Aristotelian account argues that, if “knowing what we are thinking” means having the more complete knowledge of the thought, then [C] is plausible, but [B] is not. But, if it means having partial or incomplete knowledge of the thought, then [B] is plausible, but [C] is not. To justify this response, one must give an account of what we know about the thought at the outset of the articulation, of what we know about it after completing the articulation, and of how the process of articulation helps us move from the former knowledge to the latter. It is natural to identify our more complete knowledge of what we are thinking with our knowledge of the representational content of the thought: our knowledge of what proposition it expresses.2 One might try to identify what we know about the thought at the outset of the articulation with some combination of: i. its topic (e.g. whether it is about philosophy, mathematics, etc.); ii. its intentional mode (e.g. whether it is a judgment, a hope, a hypothesis); iii. its relation to other thoughts (e.g. logical consequence, probabilification, etc.); iv. some aspects of its content (e.g. that it involves a certain object or property). 2  There are, in fact, at least two different notions of representational content that one could use to characterize this knowledge. The referential content of a representation is what the representation is a representation of—e.g. the referential content of the subject-component of my thought that my watch is black is my watch. The cognitive content of a representation includes not only what is represented but also the manner in which it is represented—e.g. in thinking that my watch is black, I may represent blackness as the property of being raven colored. Our complete knowledge of the thought is not exhausted by our knowledge of its referential content: in articulating it, we aim not just to produce words that would represent the same state of affairs as the thought, but ones that would also reflect our subjective perspective on what we are representing.

The Aristotelian account  69 A proponent of this construal of our initial knowledge of the thought must say how the process of articulation can help us move from [i]–[iv] to our more complete knowledge of the thought’s content. Given the gap between [i]–[iv] and the full content of the thought, it seems clear that any way of coming to know the full content of the thought based on [i]–[iv] would have to be mediated by inference. And there are, in fact, cases where we try to come to know our thoughts in this way. In a small range of them, the inference might be deductive. But, typically, it is an inference to the best explanation: we infer the full content of our thought by drawing on [i]–[iv] as well as on other relevant knowledge—for example, of our previous thoughts and mental states. We often engage in such a process of reconstruction when some aspects of the thought are inaccessible or when our memory of the thought is irretrievably lost. This account faces several problems, however. To begin with, it does not explain why, in the puzzling cases, we seem to be struck by an “opaque” thought, rather than sensing the absence of a thought, in the way that we do when the thought is inaccessible or irretrievable. Our initial awareness of the thought may take several forms. At times, what we are thinking may appear perfectly clear, but turn “opaque” as soon as we begin to express it. At other times, the thought may seem “opaque” right from the start. But even then, far from experiencing a gap or a void, we may experience something positively distinct but sealed off, initially impenetrable by the prodding of our intellectual faculties.3 This 3  Positing such an awareness need not commit one to the existence of non-sensory phenomenology associated with thought. To understand the character of this awareness, it may help to consider the process of language comprehension. In this process, the spoken words (or meaningful phrases) are not annihilated from your experience and replaced with their meanings. What rather happens is that the meaning shows itself as essentially belonging to the words while your attention is gradually slipping away from the words in a motion that seems directed to their meaning. But, although it looks as if your attention is drawn toward the meanings and will catch up to them at some point, the completion of the motion does not happen in experience. Your “grasp” of the meaning of an utterance does not end in an encounter with meanings-without-words. Similarly, the process of articulation does not start with a pure ex­peri­ence of a thought that is stripped down of anything sensory. For the most part, the thought comes in the form of some words or images. Wittgenstein (Remarks on the Philosophy of Psychology, 1980: i) describes this awareness as follows: “At that moment the thought was before my mind.”—And how?—“I had the picture.”—So was the picture the thought? No; for if I had merely communicated the picture to someone, he would not have got hold of the thought. The picture was the key. Or at any rate it seemed like the key” (§892). And in another passage: “It might be said that one experiences readiness for a particular group of thoughts. (The germ of them)” (§870).”

70  Reasons Theory awareness may, in the end, prove deceptive, and the worry that it will turn out to be so may irk us in the course of articulation. But, as we proceed, we may discover additional layers of richness, variety, and structure in our initial thought that were hidden from us before, and that may reinforce our confidence in our initial awareness. A more serious problem for the Aristotelian account is that we can engage in inferential reconstruction without engaging in articulation. It is true that, in some cases, we gain additional evidence about our thoughts by encountering formulations of them, and then draw on this new evidence when making the relevant abductive inferences. For example, I open a book and see an underlined sentence with my handwriting next to it, saying: “Yes, that is what I was thinking!” I then infer that I was thinking that thought. But, normally, producing or encountering some arbitrary formulation does not inform us of what we are thinking in this way. And so, the present account leaves it unclear why, in so many cases, we put effort into articulating our thoughts, in trying to get “clear on” what they are. One might argue that the process of articulation generates some further evidence that facilitates the inference from [i]–[iv] to our complete knowledge of the thought. For example, knowing that our thought is about some topic may lead us to ask ourselves what we think about it. The fact that we spontaneously produce some answer may give us some (defeasible) evidence for self-attributing the corresponding thought. Shah and Velleman (“Doxastic Deliberation,” 2005: 506) describe a related procedure for coming to know our beliefs: If the question is whether I already believe that p, one can assay the relevant state of mind by posing the question whether p and seeing what one is spontaneously inclined to answer. In this procedure, the question whether p serves as a stimulus applied to oneself for the empirical purpose of eliciting a response. One comes to know what one already thinks by seeing what one says—that is, what one says in response to the question whether p.

Although we may occasionally use such a procedure, the circumstances under which our spontaneous utterances neatly line up with the contents of our attitudes are exceedingly rare. Our words may be meant to

The Aristotelian account  71 conceal, to induce an emotion, to calm, reassure, change the course of conversation, and serve numerous other goals. So it seems unlikely that such a procedure could work for utterances much longer than “Yes” or “No.” In light of the diversity of factors that could be at play in the production of an utterance, the inference from what we say to what we think would have to be quite subtle and complex.4 Moreover, in articulating our thoughts, we do not just passively “listen in” to a stream of words running through our heads. We engage in articulation as active producers and evaluators of words. Given the discretion we seem to exercise over our words, and the ease with which the envisaged evidence could be “doctored,” it is hard to see how our choices of words could inform us of a standing thought that we had.5 One could argue that what serves as evidence is not the fact that we  produce the words, but other facts concomitant with our word ­production—for example, our desire to say them, our fluency in producing them, the relief of tension or agitation that we feel once we are done, the feeling of running out of steam, and so on. However, in articulating our thoughts, we do not usually dwell on such mental facts—our attention goes to our formulations. Consequently, our confidence in the propositions that detail these facts is not very high (if we have such confidence at all). We seem to be better justified in thinking that our formulation expresses our thought than we are in believing such propositions. This suggests that our recognition that our formulation captures our thought is not justified by an inference from mental facts, since our beliefs in the obtaining of these facts are less justified than this recognition. Another possibility is that articulation facilitates the process of reconstruction in some non-evidential way. For example, like the inferences that we make when working on long proofs, our inferences in ar­ticu­la­ tion may be difficult to keep track of, afterwards. So it might be useful to 4  For a realistic take on what such an inference may look like, see Carruthers (The Opacity of Mind, 2011: ch. 4, p. 89). 5  Our choices are often “telling” or indicative of our preferences and desires. So could not our choices of words serve as evidence for our thoughts in the same way? It is true that our choices—or the actions expressive of them—could indicate our wants and preferences to other people. But when it comes to our own acts of self-interpretation, what serves as evidence for our desires is not our choices (e.g. to pursue certain courses of actions) but other mental facts that would be best explained by our desiring certain things (e.g. the fact that we find some courses of actions appealing or repeatedly come back to entertaining them). For more on this route to self-knowledge of desire, see Lawlor (“Knowing What one Wants,” 2009).

72  Reasons Theory formulate explicit hypotheses about what we are thinking in inner speech. Alternatively, formulating our thoughts might help us remember the results of such inferences.6 However, in the process of articulation, we try to produce words that express our thought, rather than ones that embody some inferential process leading up to the conclusion that we are thinking it. Moreover, as I have emphasized, our recognition that a formulation captures our thought is often immediate: recognizing the correct formulation need not be preceded or followed by an elaborate, conscious inference.7 In fact, in some cases, we recognize a formulation as correct despite the fact that we have just inferred that we were thinking some other thought, or not thinking anything definite at all. This recognition can strike us abruptly, out of the blue. And when we produce the correct formulation, we need not start by suspecting that the formulation is right and then gradually coming to the realization that it is. We may not have any choice about what thoughts and mental states we should reflect on first: the answer may seem to be right in front of us, in the form of the formulation. Finally, in engaging in an abductive process of reconstruction, we rely on some evidence, to which we could appeal in cases where our reasons for attributing the relevant thoughts to ourselves are called into doubt. By contrast, the knowledge we have of our thoughts after producing (or encountering) their articulations cannot typically be dialectically defended in this way. Whatever basis we have for this knowledge, this basis is not of the kind that can be undercut in a way that makes it rational for us to give up the belief that we were thinking that p, but retain the belief that someone (else) was thinking that p; this knowledge 6  For other ways in which our production of words may facilitate cognitive processing, see Clark (“Magic Words,” 1998); for a more recent discussion, see Lupyan (“The Centrality of Language in Human Cognition” (2015). 7  Immediacy can be understood either psychologically or epistemically. One’s knowledge that p is psychologically immediate if one did not form the belief that p by inferring p from one’s other beliefs. One’s knowledge that p is epistemically immediate just in case one’s justification for believing p does not depend on one’s justification for believing other, supporting propositions. Here I have in mind the psychological understanding of this notion. And so, one might challenge my grounds for the immediacy claim, arguing that we cannot tell whether an inference has occurred on introspective grounds. This seems correct when it comes to unconscious evidence-based information-processing, or sub-personal inference (should there be such a thing). But the inferences at issue here are conscious, personal-level inferences. And I think that we can tell whether such inferences have occurred on the basis of introspection.

The Socratic account  73 exhibits “immunity to error through misidentification,” whereas the knowledge that we gain in cases of abductive reconstruction need not, in principle, exhibit this phenomenon. In these respects, the former knowledge is similar to our knowledge of our occurrent mental states, which we arrive at immediately, by introspection. What might obscure the difference between the above sort of reconstruction and what we do in the puzzling cases is that, in articulating our thoughts, we sometimes reason by taking some of our reactions into account. Understanding the character and basis of this reasoning will be the topic of Chapter 6. Here, let me just note that, although such reason­ ing can be helpful, it is far from indispensable for coming to the recognition in the puzzling cases: we may recognize our thoughts in the mouths of friends or movie characters, in sociology books or Internet discussion forums, without thinking back to our former mental states, or engaging in any sort of inferential reconstruction. To be sure, in articulating our thoughts, we usually start with some partial knowledge of what we are thinking, and then arrive at more complete knowledge of it. However, we do not get the latter knowledge simply by reasoning from the former. Arriving at it seems to depend on the availability of another cognitive route, by which we identify the correct words. In this respect, the role of reasoning in articulation is akin to its role in memory: although we can recall a person’s name (and recognize it as the one we were searching for), without having to reason about the person, reasoning can help with the retrieval process in certain ways.8

2.  The Socratic account The next type of reasons theory takes cue from Socrates’ response to Meno’s paradox. Meno’s paradox can be put as a dilemma in answer to the question “Do you know X?”. If you know X, then you cannot search for X, because you already have it; but if you do not know X, then you cannot search for X either, because you do not know what to search for, and would not recognize it if you found it. We can frame the articulation 8  For more on the role of reasoning in memory retrieval, see Koriat (“Control Processes in Remembering,” 2000) and Dunlosky and Metcalfe (Metacognition, 2008: ch. 4).

74  Reasons Theory puzzle in an analogous way—as a dilemma in answer to the question “Do you know what thought you are trying to articulate”? If you do have this knowledge, then finding the right words should be easy (since you are proficient in English), and there should not be much cognitive advantage to finding those words. However, if you do not know what thought you are trying to articulate, you could never know when you happened upon the correct words; you cannot identify your formulations as correct or incorrect without comparing them to the thought, and you cannot compare them to the thought, unless you know what thought that is.9 Whereas the Aristotelian solution has tried to steer between the horns of this dilemma, the Socratic solution takes the dilemma by the first horn. Notoriously, in answering Meno, Socrates proposed that investigation is not a way of gaining knowledge but is a way of being reminded of knowledge that we already have.10 The problems with this position are familiar. For example, would not there have to be a time (for example, in our past lives) where we would have to obtain this knowledge? And if so, would not we run into the same problem again? A simple Socratic response to our puzzle would reject [C]—the claim that our knowledge of what we are thinking is based on our recognition that our formulation captures our thought. Such a solution denies that, in the puzzling cases, articulating the thought that p is part of our way of knowing that we are thinking that p. Rather, producing (or just being presented with) the formulation is a way of being reminded of this knowledge, which we have had, stored in our memory, all along. The simple Socratic response is implausible. Although I suggested that articulation and memory are parallel in some respects, it is unlikely that they are parallel in all respects, or that articulating a thought simply consists in recalling a piece of knowledge that we have once acquired.

9 I thank Katja Vogt for suggesting this reconstruction of Meno’s paradox, and to an an­onym­ous reviewer from OUP for framing the articulation puzzle in the corresponding way. 10  The role of recollection in the Meno is controversial. According to Katja Vogt (Belief and Truth, 2012), Socrates does not stop with recollection, but arrives at a “method of hypotheses,” by which we can inquire into things, without relying on preexistence. According to Dominic Scott (Plato’s Meno, 2006), Socrates deploys recollection not as a direct response to Meno’s puzzle, but largely as a rhetorical device to arouse Meno’s curiosity and lure him back into their investigation. However, according to Scott, Socrates still expects the theory to help solve a ser­ious epistemological problem lurking behind the letter of Meno’s puzzle.

The Socratic account  75 One problem with this response is that it is unclear why we would need articulation to remind us of what we are thinking. Why cannot we hold on to this knowledge when we first acquire it? Furthermore, as tools to prod our memories, our words could correlate loosely with what we are thinking, or not at all. So, it is hard to see why we would even search for words that accurately express our thoughts. In fact, when a thought slips our mind, we seldom try to regain it by producing words: a more common strategy is to think back to the circumstances in which we had the thought, or to return to the place where we first had it. A more sophisticated Socratic response rejects [C] by conceiving of articulation as an attempt to gain a “synoptic view” of some integrated body of information. On this account, prior to articulating the thought that p, we already know that we are thinking that p. What we are ig­nor­ant of are some other aspects of the thought—for example, its structure, its truth-value, which parts of it are relevant or important to us, and so on. The purpose of articulation is to create a perspicuous representation that allows us to come to know such additional aspects of what we are thinking.11 There do seem to be cases where articulation serves this function. For example, having learned the theory of evolution (or some other complex theory), you are likely to have a large body of knowledge pertaining to it. The elements of this body of knowledge may include general principles (for example, about natural selection, heredity, and so on), definitions (for example, of adaptation, mutation, spandrels, and so on), and many supporting facts (for example, similarities between species, some memorable examples of specialization, and the like). Writing down some segments of the theory to yourself in an organized way may expand the range of immediate inferences that you can draw from the theory, put you in a better position to explain the theory to others or defend it against objections, and confer various other cognitive advantages. Notice, however, that, before writing it down, you already have access to the elements of the theory. You can confidently answer specific questions about the theory, report the individual principles and definitions that compose it, and reason from them, whenever you like. The challenge is to order or

11  Thanks to Cian Dorr for raising this possibility.

76  Reasons Theory organize the information for expression. You grope around, trying to decide which “mental compartment” to reach. But our challenge in the puzzling cases is at once more straightforward and more fundamental than that. It is more straightforward in that what we seem to be after in these cases is basic knowledge of our thoughts—not anything as sophisticated as their structure, their truth-values, or any such further properties. When you first have the objection, it may incline you to say various things, and move you to various intellectual reactions—for example, to think that the speaker’s view is false. But, at the start, you are not in a position to choose which elem­ents of the objection to report or use in further thinking. The verbal inclinations prompted by the objection may allow you to gather some global properties of it. And the intellectual reactions that it prompts may allow you to tell whether certain propositions are related to it. You may be uncertain as to whether something is an element of the objection until you have expressed it in full; answering targeted questions about the objection would require articulating it to yourself first. Until then, such responses are likely to feel like speculations rather than as informed inferences. Once you are done, you could try to articulate the thought again in a more perspicuous way. The initial challenge, however, does not lie in arranging some body of information, which you can already reason from and report, but in making your objection available to reason­ing and reporting in the first place. The contrast between these cases reinforces our original understanding of articulation as a way of coming to know our thoughts. What we lack at the outset is not just linguistic information—the vocabulary to express a complex property that we know and have clearly in mind. Nor is it that we lack access to some “higher-order” information about the thought—for example, to the fact that the thought that p is occurring. More than that: we seem to lack access to the information carried by the thought. In this sense, we seem to be unaware of what we are thinking.12 But, no matter how we conceive of the relation between cognitive access and self-knowledge, it seems that we cannot know that we are thinking that p if we lack access to p. So, it seems implausible to attribute us with this knowledge at the start of articulation. 12  For more on cognitive access and its relation to awareness, see Ned Block (“On a Confusion about a Function of Consciousness,” 1995; “Consciousness and Cognitive Access,” 2008).

The comparator account  77 Though false in letter, the Socratic account contains the kernel of an important truth: both memory and articulation are ways of accessing information that we already have, encoded in some form. The goal of this section has been to show why it would be a mistake to understand our initial relation to this information, in the articulation case, to include (explicit) knowledge that we are thinking that p.

3.  The comparator account The final version of the reasons theory I would like to consider rejects the puzzle’s second proposition [B]: that recognizing that a formulation captures our thought requires drawing on our knowledge of what we are thinking.13 On this account, the reasons for our acceptances and rejections of words do not come from our knowledge of the thought but from feelings that issue from an unconscious matching process. In appealing to such feelings, this account is similar to the version of the Aristotelian account on which we work out what we were thinking through an inference from mental cues. However, given the simplicity and uniformity of the outputs of the matching process, our confidence that the formulation feels right or wrong could be as great as our confidence that our formulation matches or fails to match the thought. So, the former judgment could more plausibly justify the latter. The account posits a sub-personal representation—some state of the  nervous system—that carries the thought’s content and causally ­interacts with other states.14 Having the representation allows us to recognize the correct formulation of the thought by virtue of the representation’s functional role, which includes acting as an input to a sub-personal monitoring mechanism that compares the content of the thought to the meaning of the formulation. The mechanism accesses 13  A different way of rejecting this proposition is to say that, in articulating a thought, we transform a mere belief about it into knowledge. Perhaps there is a way of motivating such an account—e.g. using an unorthodox conception of (mere) belief. On the face of it, though, it looks unpromising. For one, it is unclear why we would start with such a belief and why we would have trouble reporting it. Moreover, since recognizing that a formulation captures our thought is part of our basis for knowing what we are thinking, it seems implausible that our basis for the recognition is an unjustified belief. 14  The classical discussion of what the representational vehicles could be is, of course, Fodor (The Language of Thought, 1975).

78  Reasons Theory the representation, accesses our inner speech (or our representation of a written or spoken formulation), carries out a matching routine, and delivers an output: either a feeling of fit or an “alarm signal” that lends basis for a corrective action. Such a mechanism would, of course, be capable of processing only (concrete) tokens that serve as the representatives of the (abstract) contents and meanings. But its processing of the syntactic tokens would constitute an indirect means of “matching” the representation with the meanings of our words. A mechanism of this sort may operate in the ordinary cases where articulating our thoughts seems unnecessary for us to get clear on what they are, and in other activities, like the following: • describing a mental image; • looking for a translation of a foreign-language sentence; • recalling a past event and relating it in the course of conversation; • giving walking directions to someone by projecting the route on a “mental map” and then converting the pictorial representation into a series of discrete instructions; • making a gesture and searching for its equivalent in public language. In such cases, we continuously monitor the process of articulation and parse our inner or overt speech. In some cases, the errors that we spot are simple slips of the tongue: lexical errors (“left” instead of “right”) or phonological errors (“wish” instead of “fish”). In other cases, the errors are more nuanced. We may try to replace a word that has potential for ambiguity or the wrong connotation. We may try to find a word that is more precise (“apple” instead of “fruit”) or whose meaning works better for our purpose. The range of activities on this list and the variety of types of ­corrections should, I think, already make one suspicious of the sub-­ personal comparator account.15 However, even if we are persuaded that such a mechanism operates in ordinary conversation, and in other cases 15  Levelt (Speaking, 1998: 9, 21), who has done much to explore the cognitive processes that underlie articulation, does not himself endorse this type of account, even in the case of or­din­ary conversation: “Talking is an intentional activity, a way of acting . . . Conceptualizing is primarily deciding on what to express, given the present intention.” And: “self-corrections are hardly ever made without a touch of awareness.”

The comparator account  79 where articulation is smooth, undemanding of our intelligence, and devoid of any sense of discovery, I will argue that it is implausible that it operates in our core cases. On the comparator account, we should expect our difficulties in ar­ticu­la­tion to affect us only in the process of producing the formulation. Once we come up with a formulation, the comparator would inform us of its adequacy, without our having to do any work. But our difficulties in articulation are not restricted to our production of words. I said that sometimes we can immediately recognize a formulation as correct. That is true, and I will return to it. But it is also true that sometimes we cannot, and do not even seem to ourselves to be in a position to tell immediately whether a given formulation is correct. For example, after failing to articulate my objection in the seminar, I may talk to the speaker, who may suggest some objection as a candidate for what I had in mind. I may think over what the speaker says, make sure that I thoroughly understand it, try to work out its consequences, reflect back on my thought, try to foresee its implications. But I may still hesitate to conclude that the objection captures my specific worry about the argument. I would not even know how to start going through the formulation, word-by-word, and checking whether each word corresponds to a part of my thought. The source of my difficulty outstrips the limitations of my attention or working memory: my inability to “take in” the whole thought and the whole formulation at once. Another example comes from metaphysics. Talking to a friend, you may be struck by a thought, which you may put in the slogan “the whole is nothing but its parts.” “But surely,” your friend might respond, “you do not just mean that: after all, you can have all the parts without having the whole! Think about it: you can have all the parts of your bike disassembled, without having the bike. You must mean that the whole is nothing but its parts plus their organization!” After mulling over it for some time, you may reluctantly give in, saying either that this is what you really meant or that there was no coherent thought on your mind at all. However, a few days later, while reading a metaphysics paper, you may come upon a theory about the part– whole relation that captures the thought you initially had. On this theory, the relationship between wholes and their parts does not require any admixture of organization. So you can take your initial slogan at face value.

80  Reasons Theory On the comparator account, for any arbitrary formulation that we consider (with understand), we should get either a “Yes” or a “No” answer as to whether it “matches” our thought. This might still be true even if the comparator informs us of degrees of “match,” in which case, the “Yes”/“No” answers could just be evaluations on which our words go above/below a certain threshold of correctness. Either way, the process that informs us is one of matching or comparison. So, even if the wrong formulations are unaccompanied by a distinct positive feeling of in­appro­ pri­ate­ness, the fact that we do not receive an affirmative answer should give us grounds for thinking that the answer is a “No.” The proponent of this account must thus give some explanation of what the source of our difficulties in identifying the formulations could possibly be. One might reply that in cases where we do not get a clear “Yes” or “No” signal there simply is no fully formed thought that we are trying to articulate; our difficulties in these cases are not in recognizing the formulations of our thoughts but in figuring out what to think. But, if our goal is to figure out what to think, it is unclear why we do not just at­tri­bute the best possible thought to ourselves in every case. For example, in suggesting an objection as a candidate for what I have in mind, the speaker may convince me that it is, in fact, the most serious challenge to her view. Nevertheless, I may hesitate to accept her objection. The reason for this is not just low self-esteem. Nor is it that the objection fails to meet my criteria for an objection (or that I am uncertain whether it does); if this were the case, I would confidently reject the objection (or at least proceed to engage in some active reasoning, rather than remaining stuck). What stumps me is not whether the objection is the best thing to think, or the best thing to think that would meet certain conditions, but whether it captures my existing worry about the speaker’s view.

3.1.  The glitch hypothesis The only other explanation of our difficulties that appears open to the advocate of the comparator account traces them to malfunctions in the comparator. In this section, I would like to give some specific reasons against attributing our difficulties to glitches in the kind of monitoring

The comparator account  81 mechanism posited by the advocate of this account. I then want to step back and spend the next section giving a more general argument to the effect that our difficulties in articulating thoughts, in the puzzling cases, do not result from performance errors, either in evaluating or in producing words. To begin with, notice that it would be implausible for the advocate of the comparator account to posit a separate monitoring capacity that would inform us only in the puzzling cases. If we have the above sort of monitoring capacity at all, we should expect it to operate both in the puzzling cases and in cases where articulation is effortless and smooth. But we do not seem to face the difficulties just cited with our more pedestrian thoughts—for example, the thought that the door is shut or that the liquor cabinet is in the kitchen. And so, the proponent of this account must explain why the glitches tend to affect us in the puzzling cases, but not in the other cases, which (presumably) involve the exercise of the very same monitoring capacity. The proponent of the comparator account may reply that the puzzling cases simply are the cases in which the monitoring capacity is less re­li­ able. So, no further explanation of why the malfunctions tend to affect us in these cases but not in the more pedestrian cases is needed. But malfunctions in the comparator cannot explain why our thoughts in the puzzling cases seem “opaque” or inaccessible before we even think of producing words (and exercise the comparator in any way), or why articulating these thoughts takes us effort. If anything, the explanation should go the other way: if we have the monitoring capacity at all, the features of the puzzling cases that account for the “opacity” of our thoughts, and for the effort we put in articulating them, should help explain why the comparator is less reliable. It is, however, hard to see how such an explanation could go. For there appears to be nothing aberrant about the (mental) conditions under which we have the thoughts in the puzzling cases that would consistently throw off the comparator. And these thoughts need not be any more complex than other thoughts that we could effortlessly express; as shown, inter alia, by the chance of discovering that my objection is a slight variation of my friend’s objection, which I have had no difficulty articulating, or that my view differs only moderately from a familiar view, which I have disclaimed at the start.

82  Reasons Theory Second, once we are done articulating our thoughts, we have no more difficulty in identifying their various expressions than we have in identifying the expressions of our ordinary thoughts. Indeed, our ability to tell whether an arbitrary formulation captures our thought tends to improve in the course of articulation: toward the end, we may quickly reject formulations that would have given us pause at the start. It is, however, unclear why our own progress in articulation would help reduce the glitches in the comparator in any way. Third, there seems to be a striking asymmetry between the “good” cases, where the formulations that we produce capture our thoughts, and the “bad” cases, where they do not. By and large, when we are in a “good” case, we instantly know that we are: despite our difficulties in producing our formulations, we usually have no trouble recognizing the right ones when we see them. On the other hand, when we are in a “bad” case, we are far more liable to have doubts and hesitations. If our difficulties stem from glitches in the comparator, then this asymmetry suggests that the rate of glitches is greater in cases in which we evaluate the wrong formulations than in cases in which our formulations are correct. But it is hard to see why the comparator would be dramatically less reliable in cases in which we consider erroneous formulations, given that the entire point of such a mechanism can be no other than to help us catch mistakes. The asymmetry between the “good” and “bad” cases can help illustrate a more general problem with regard to the reasons for our acceptances/ rejections of words as given to us by the outputs of a sub-personal capacity. For, if our reasons came to us in this way, our know­ledge of the asymmetry could, effectively, put an end to our doubts and hesitations. Once we notice the asymmetry, we could adopt a rule that tells us to reject a formulation if we do not get any positive cue within a certain amount of time. But we cannot silence our doubts as easily as that. I may consider a formulation that I wrote down, but find myself unresolved about it for a long period. I may tell myself: “Look, in most situations in which you have doubted yourself in this way, you should have just moved on. Remember the rule: if you are unresolved about a formulation for X amount of time, then reject it. Follow it now.” I say these words to myself in a confident tone, but the words do not make me feel any more confident. I consider the formulation and it strikes me as dubious. I reconsider it, and it strikes me as somewhat less dubious, then more dubious again.

The comparator account  83 I cannot get rid of the feeling, the nagging suspicion, that maybe it captures my thought. The very response that figures in the antecedent of the rule I am trying to follow pulls me away from carrying out its consequent. Suppose that the comparator account is true, and my doubt is based just on the fact that I am failing to get a clear response from the comparator. If I know that the comparator is reliable when it comes to the right formulations, but often delivers no clear recognition response when it comes to the wrong ones, then I have no good reason to remain in doubt. Indeed, it would hardly make sense for me to remain in doubt. But it does make sense for me to remain in doubt. The reason I have a hard time snapping out of my wavering seems to be this: I am the one who is evaluating the formulation. I am not waiting for a cue from some sub-personal capacity but am using one of my own capacities. When considering the formulation on its own terms, I am genuinely unresolved. To follow my general rule, I must find a way to distance myself from my irresolution. But I cannot take a detached stance toward my own attitudes as easily as I can towards the attitudes of another person or toward the outputs of some external device. The point I have been making should perhaps have been clear from the start: in articulating our thoughts, we do not experience ourselves as delivering words to some mechanism and waiting for it to return a result; with or without difficulty, we ourselves make the comparison.

3.2.  Competence vs performance In addition to the former specific arguments against attributing our difficulties in articulation to malfunctions in the comparator, there is also a general argument against attributing these difficulties to glitches, either in producing or in identifying the right words. The following scenario may help bring out the point: You stumble upon a draft of a paper that you wrote many years ago as an  undergraduate. The writing is painfully obscure. Nevertheless, you cannot help but sense that there was some definite idea that you were groping to express in it. You strain to form a coherent picture of what you were up to. But even though you understand all the sentences in isolation, they seem like scattered traces of some ancient struggle—a mess

84  Reasons Theory that you can no longer relate to or comprehend. You consider making some changes, but apart from some obvious stylistic improvements, the changes seem arbitrary; there is no more reason to make them than to leave things as they are. Then, slowly, the previous mental state starts to come back. It begins with a faint feeling, but the feeling draws you in and takes over the whole. Everything gradually clicks and comes together. The words that previously seemed disconnected now seem harmoniously connected by unwritten links. You find yourself at the same place where you had stopped, confronted by the very same thought that you were then struggling to articulate. With perfect ease, you make swift corrections, which would have seemed baseless just a moment ago. You quickly get rid of some parts, trade the obscure words for more precise expressions, and before you know it, you are done. The “opaque” thought that once struck you as onerous and distant now appears entirely manageable and clear. The drop in the level of difficulty that you experience in articulating your former thought does not stem from your special familiarity with it, or from the fact that this thought was “processed” by your unconscious, in the interval after you wrote the paper. Rather, by taking more classes, articulating many other difficult thoughts, talking to people about related topics, and doing other things of that general nature, you have overcome the difficulties that you once faced in articulating a whole stratum of thoughts, with which you would have struggled as an undergraduate. Given your current intellectual state, you would have found it easy to articulate this thought, even if it came to you for the first time. The factors that make articulation easier for you now include: • your ability to recognize certain turns of phrase as obscure, misleading, and unhelpful, which would have slid past you before; • your knowledge of technical terms that you can now deploy as shortcuts, to defuse idle doubts and worries in one stroke, and avoid rushing into needless disquisitions; • your familiarity with a certain theoretical terrain, which allows you to dismiss certain positions as inapplicable to your thought out of hand. You have overcome your former difficulties neither by eradicating errors in your faculties nor by removing obstacles that interfered with

The comparator account  85 their proper operation; indeed, it is hard to see what the errors and stumbling blocks could even be. What you instead needed was a boost or a positive addition to your competence: some additional knowledge and skills. Given your limited competence as an undergraduate, there was just no possible way for you to articulate your thought with the ease with which you articulate it now. At that time, you were acting to the best of your abilities; and all your faculties were working fine, in their limited way. The only problem was that they were not up to the task. Unconvinced, the glitch theorist may nevertheless insist on attributing our past difficulties in articulation to performance errors, construing our limited abilities as a kind of defect that gives rise to them. But this would be like assimilating a child’s clumsy efforts in learning how to walk to a drunkard’s unintentional stumbling. The drunkard already has the capacity to walk and makes lots of errors in exercising it. But the child is just developing the capacity, and so cannot yet be regarded as defective in its application. Like the child’s difficulties in walking, our past difficulties in articulation resulted not from misapplying capacities that we had mastered, but from our imperfect mastery of our developing capacities. Far from stemming from defects, our difficulties were the healthy manifestations of learning—our facility to master new skills. But the challenges that we face in articulation now are not fundamentally different from the ones that we faced in earlier phases of our development. And, since our former difficulties did not result from errors, there is no reason why our present difficulties should stem from them.16 A satisfactory account of our difficulties would not simply blame them on glitches or lapses in the operation of our sub-personal capacities but trace them to some essential feature of what we do in the puzzling cases.

16  According to Piaget (The Language and Thought of the Child, 2001: 46), such difficulties occur most frequently in childhood and adolescence: “Consider a certain familiar experience of daily life. We are looking, say, for the solution of some problem, when suddenly everything seems quite clear; we have understood, and we experience that sui generis feeling of intellectual satisfaction. But as soon as we try to explain to others what it is we have understood, difficulties come thick and fast. These difficulties do not arise merely because of the effort of attention needed to hold in a single grasp the links in the chain of argument; they are attributable also to our judging faculty itself. . . . if such, then, is the difference between personal understanding and spoken explanation, how much more marked will be the characteristics of personal understanding when the individual has for a long time been bottling up his own thoughts, when he has not even formed the habit of thinking in terms of other people . . . We need only recall the inextricable chaos of adolescent thought to realize the truth of this distinction.”

86  Reasons Theory

Conclusion This concludes my discussion of the reasons-theory. Each version of the  theory that I considered was found wanting in some respects. In Section 1, I considered an account that conceives of articulation as an inferential process, in which we move from partial to complete know­ledge of our thoughts. I argued that this view leaves it unclear why we assiduously verbalize our thoughts, in “getting clear” on what they are. This model also fails to account for our initial awareness of our thoughts, the (psychological) immediacy of our recognition of their formulations, and the fact that we can articulate our thoughts without engaging in any (overt) self-interpretive inference. In Section 2, I considered a “Socratic” account on which the function of articulation lies in something other than helping us come to know which thoughts we have. I rejected this account, arguing that the function of articulation lies neither in “reactivating” some latent piece of knowledge nor in constructing a perspicuous (verbal) representation that allows us to gain some (non-identifying) knowledge of our thought. In Section 3, I considered a reasons theory on which we recognize the formulations of our thoughts by relying on a monitoring capacity that “matches” our thoughts to our words and informs our responses by delivering a feeling of match. The problem for this solution was that, under it, we would expect our difficulties in articulation to be confined to our production of words. But it is often just as difficult for us to identify the formulations of our thoughts. In Sections 3.1 and 3.2, I argued that it is implausible to trace our difficulties to glitches in the monitoring capacity and gave a more general argument to the conclusion that our difficulties in articulating our thoughts do not stem from any per­form­ance errors at all. Although reasons theory has proved untenable, going through its different iterations has allowed us to establish some points that should henceforth be taken into account. Chief among them concerns the form of explanation needed to solve the puzzle. A rational explanation is a species of causal explanation that accounts for a subject’s response (for example, judgment, choice, action) in a way that displays why the response makes sense from the subject’s point of view. Our choices of

Conclusion  87 words in the puzzling cases make sense to us, and the challenge posed by the puzzle was to find a rational explanation for these responses. A familiar type of rational explanation is a reasons-explanation. Such an explanation accounts for a subject’s response by citing the subject’s reasons for it. Now, on a very broad conception of “reason,” a rational explanation just is a reasons-explanation. On this conception, any state that features in the rational explanation of a subject’s response can be reason-giving; mental states of which we are unaware, and for which there are systematic barriers to one’s becoming aware—such as repressed desires, implicit biases, and automatic habits—could serve as reasons, on this conception. But on a more natural and plausible conception of a subject’s reasons, reasons are considerations that the subject cognizes, and that inform the subject’s response by counting in favor of it.17 As such, the reasons that feature in the rational explanation of a response must come from readily accessible mental states—states that the subject could, in principle, consult in moving to the response.18 The solutions we considered in this chapter were reasons-explanations in this sense.



Comparator model


Partial knowledge: Aristotlean Account

Full knowledge: Socratic account

Figure 4.1.  Breakdown of reasons theories 17  For a classical exposition of this conception, see Scanlon (What we Owe to Each Other, 1998: ch. 1). 18  The reasons for which one moves to a response need not be good (or “normative”) ­reasons. The fact that a coin landed on heads many times in a row is a bad reason to judge that it will land on tails. Nevertheless, a gambler’s decisions may still be informed by this consideration.

88  Reasons Theory The breakdown of the reasons theories that we considered is as shown in Figure 4.1. Wittgenstein (Remarks on the Philosophy of Psychology, 1980: I, §72) seems to suggest that we cannot make sense of our choices of words by trying to find reasons for them: “The appropriate word. How do we find it? . . . I see the word as appropriate even before I know, and even when I never know, why it is appropriate.” The preceding sections ­confirm that we cannot make sense of our choices of words by assimilating them into the reasons framework. But we need not turn our spade when our ­reasons give out. What we need is a different kind of rational explanation.

5 The Implicit/Explicit Strategy The same piece of information can be the object of many different types of mental states: one can believe that p, hope that p, doubt that p, and so on. Accordingly, in characterizing an intentional state, we can distinguish its attitudinal component or mode (belief, hope, and so on) from the specific content of the attitude (what we believe, hope, and so on). The content of the attitude is represented, and the attitude-type is set by the functional (or causal) role of that representation—by how the intentional state interacts with the person’s other mental states and behavior. In this chapter, I develop a strategy that accounts for what we do in the difficult cases of articulation, not in terms of what we know before and after articulating our thought, but in terms of the kinds of attitudes (or knowledge) involved in articulation. Rather than taking articulation to facilitate the transition from partial to complete knowledge of the thought, one may take articulation to help us move from implicit to explicit knowledge of it. Just as the advocate of the comparator account from the previous chapter, the advocate of this response rejects the puzzle’s second proposition [B]: that recognizing that a formulation captures our thought requires drawing on our (explicit) knowledge of what we are thinking. Unlike the previous approaches that we considered, a version of the implicit/explicit strategy can, I think, be carried out successfully. But the notions of “implicit” and “explicit” knowledge stand in need of clarification. By “explicit knowledge,” I have in mind regular, propositional knowledge (knowledge that p); to have explicit knowledge of what we are thinking is to know that we are thinking that p. “Implicit know­ ledge,” however, is merely a placeholder for whatever it is that allows us to recognize the correct formulations of our thought. Implementing the strategy thus requires saying what our implicit knowledge of the thought

Articulating a Thought. Eli Alshanetsky, Oxford University Press (2019). © Eli Alshanetsky. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198785880.001.0001

90  The Implicit/Explicit Strategy consists in and, also, how having this knowledge allows us to recognize the correct formulations of our thought. I build up to the ultimate version of the strategy in stages. In Section 1, I start by presenting an account on which moving from implicit to explicit knowledge of what we are thinking consists in “converting” the thought from one “format,” or type of encoding of information, to another. In Section 2, I raise some prima facie challenges for this account to get clear on the constraints that a fully worked-out version would have to meet. A deeper challenge that emerges for the account comes from the character of our own involvement in the process of articulation. In Section 3, I delve into this challenge in some detail. In Section 4, I propose a version of the implicit/explicit strategy that could stand up to these challenges.

1.  The encoding-difference account: First pass The difficulties that we face in articulating our thoughts are akin to the ones mathematicians often face in formalizing mathematical ideas: Introspection shows that when I am actually doing mathematics, when I am wrestling with a problem that I do not know how to solve, then I am hardly dealing with symbols at all, but rather with ideas and constructions. Some of the hardest work a mathematician does occurs when he has an idea but is, for the moment, unable to express that idea in a formal way. Often such ideas first manifest themselves as visual or kinesthetic images. As the mathematician becomes clearer about them, as they become more formal, he may discover that they manifest considerable internal structure, which is, so to speak, not yet sym­bol­ic­al­ly encoded. (Goodman, “Mathematics as an Objective Science,” 1979: 543) There is sometimes a huge expansion factor in translating from the encoding in my own thinking to something that can be conveyed to someone else . . . my personal mental models and structures are similar in character to the kinds of models groups of mathematicians share— but they are often different models. (Thurston, “On Proof and Progress in Mathematics,” 1994: 174)

The encoding-difference account: First pass  91 On one gloss of what we do in such cases of formalization, our difficulty stems not from any feature of the content of our initial mathematical idea—the information that it carries—but from the specific way in which its information is “encoded.” The notion of an internal code or “format” of mental representation is familiar in cognitive science. Although the nature and individuation conditions of internal codes are a matter of debate, many cognitive scientists postulate multiple “code systems,” whose differences are underwritten by the “vehicles” or medium of representation. It is common to posit an amodal (“purely conceptual”) format, characteristic of “central cognition.” Other formats may be specific to sensory modalities: there might be a visual format, an auditory format, a kinesthetic format, and so on. Mental images have been widely held to represent in a manner akin to pictures, and there may be picture–language hybrids such as diagrams and cognitive maps. Formats may differ in the types of processes or operations (for example, comparisons, transformations, and so on) they afford, their contribution to problem-solving, their influence over reasoning and action, and other respects. On a “modularist” framework, on which our representations belong to innate structures (or “modules”) shaped in the course of evolution, each module may have its own proprietary format, which includes a distinctive vocabulary, syntax, and computational procedures. However, the idea of internal codes can be detached from a modularist framework, and need not, on its own, commit one to understanding formats as being language-like. Some formats may be individuated, in part, by the distinctive contents of their tokens. But the contents of representations in different formats could in prin­ ciple overlap.1 The idea of multiple codes of mental representation may naturally seem of help in accounting for what we do in the puzzling cases. Rather than tracing our difficulties in articulation to malfunctions, one may instead attribute them to the type of encoding of information that 1  For a general discussion of internal codes, see Goldman (Epistemology and Cognition, 1986: ch. 12) and Jackendoff (Languages of the Mind, 1992). For more on dimensions of vari­ ation between codes, see Palmer (“Fundamental Aspects of Cognitive Representation,” 1978). Block (“Mental Pictures and Cognitive Science,” 1983) gives a lucid appraisal of the debate over the format of mental images, and a more recent overview is in Kosslyn et al. (The Case for Mental Imagery, 2006). For recent discussions of cognitive maps, see Camp (“Thinking with Maps,” 2007) and Rescorla (“Cognitive Maps and the Language of Thought,” 2009).

92  The Implicit/Explicit Strategy characterizes our thoughts in the puzzling cases, and that distinguishes them from ordinary thoughts. The two kinds of thoughts may differ in their function within our system of representation. Our thoughts in the puzzling cases may be encoded in all sorts of ways. However, one might argue that, unlike the contents of more pedestrian thoughts, which we could effortlessly articulate, the contents of our thoughts in the puzzling cases are not “re-deployed” (or automatically taken up) in the contents of higher-order thoughts. Consequently, the thoughts in these cases may be unfit to serve as inputs to our regular linguistic capacities. The difficulties that we face in articulating them may stem from our need to “convert” their information into a “verbally interpretable” format, by constructing a representation (for example, a regular thought) that could serve as an input to them. The initial thought, along with the availability of some mechanism that constructs this representation, would (functionally) realize both the intentional state of thinking that p and the attitude of “implicitly knowing” that one is thinking that p. To be clear, the difficulty of translating one representation to another may vary from code system to code system, and, by itself, a format difference is neither necessary nor sufficient for us to have difficulties in articulation. Pictures and sentences are couched in different formats, but it is often easy to describe a picture. And some translations can be hard, even when the formats are both linguistic; indeed, we may have difficulty coming up with a paraphrase within a single language. Appealing to multiple codes frees us from viewing our difficulties in articulation as pathological but does not go all the way toward explaining why they occur. A full account of these difficulties would appeal to specific features of the formats, and their role in our system of representation.2 Before getting under the hood of the encoding difference account, it will be useful to situate it in the context of a psychological model of speech production. The “verbally interpretable” representation that features in this account is akin to the “pre-verbal message” postulated by Levelt (Speaking, 1989). Constructing the message consists in organizing (or “conceptualizing”) some body of information for expression and ensuring that all of it is represented in a propositional (for example, as 2  I thank an anonymous referee from OUP for prompting me to clarify this point.

The encoding-difference account: First pass  93 opposed to spatial or kinesthetic) code. On Levelt’s model, we monitor the articulation process through three distinct channels, or feedback loops. The “outer loop” receives inputs from audition and allows us to detect errors by attending to our overt speech. The “inner loop” enables us to monitor our inner speech—the stream of phonetic plans for overt articulation. And the (innermost) “conceptual loop” allows us to monitor the pre-verbal message directly, in the process of its construction, to check whether it is appropriate for expression and whether the timing for expressing it is right. On the encoding difference account, articulating a thought consists not only in producing words that would capture it, but also in generating a second thought that would match the first.3 The model is represented in Figure 5.1. Without getting into the details of this account, the immediate hurdle for it is that it merely seems to push the puzzle back one level. The puzzle targets the monitoring that goes on in the inner and outer loops—the process by which we check the appropriateness of our words to our thoughts. But an analogous puzzle can be raised about the monitoring

p loo

Concep tua l Unarticulated thought

er loop Out



al lo op

Verbally interpretable representation

Overt articulation


ter lo op

er loop Inn

er loop Inn



Inner speech formulation

Figure 5.1.  The encoding difference model 3  Unlike Levelt, I leave it open whether the “verbally interpretable” thought is a “message,” which is specifically tailored to the requirements of language, or whether its role in language is a byproduct of a process with a different (or broader) aim.

94  The Implicit/Explicit Strategy that goes on in the conceptual loop—the process by which we check the appropriateness of our second thought (or pre-verbal message) to our initial thought. The modified puzzle can be put like this: I can articulate a particular thought that I have—for example, my thought that p; articulating the thought consists, in part, in constructing a pre-verbal message (or “verbally interpretable” representation) that captures it. Successful articulation requires knowing that my pre-verbal message matches my initial thought; I come to this knowledge (partly) on the basis of my knowledge of the content of my initial thought. Knowing the content of my initial thought requires having a preverbal message and drawing on my knowledge that the pre-verbal message has matched my thought. The puzzle re-emerges, but this time at the level of the construction of the pre-verbal message rather than at that of the formulation. The question of how we recognize that a formulation captures our unknown thought just turns into the question of how we recognize that our regular (“verbally interpretable”) thought captures it. The modified puzzle is akin to a version of the Meno puzzle in the case of our application of basic “recognitional” concepts—for example, of colors (or, if you prefer, of our attribution of the corresponding properties, in thought): 1. I can think about a specific color that I am seeing by applying the concept black to it. 2. Correctly applying black to the color requires knowing which color I am seeing—that is, knowing that I am seeing black. 3. Knowing which color I am seeing requires (correctly) conceptualizing it as black. [1]–[3] appear inconsistent. Unlike what happens when we apply many complex concepts—for example, the concept spy—we do not generally conceptualize what we perceive by relying on some independent criteria, which do not themselves involve the colors. Someone who is colorblind may identify certain colors in this way. But, in the basic case,

The encoding-difference account: First pass  95 it seems that our reason for classifying a visually presented color as black, or for applying the concept black to it, can be no other than how it appears—that is, black. Classifying the color as black thus seems to require drawing on our knowledge that we are confronted with black [2]. But having the latter knowledge seems to require already thinking about the color in our experience and classifying that color as black [3]. So, it looks as though the sort of basic perceptual classification claimed possible in [1] could never get going.4 One may try to resolve this puzzle by distinguishing between the “objective” property of external objects picked out by the concept black (for example, the tendency to reflect certain wavelengths) and the “subjective” property of visual experiences (or regions of the visual field) picked out by the concept phenomenal-black. Our basis for deploying black, on this view, could be the fact that our experience instantiates the latter property. Thus, if “color” refers to a “subjective” property, then [2] is true but [3] is false; but, if it refers to an “objective” property, then [3] is true but [2] is false. This suggestion is problematic, however. For one, it renders the application of color concepts more sophisticated than it plausibly is. For it seems that a child could be fully justified in judging that a color is black without yet possessing the more sophisticated concept phenomenal-black. And, in any event, the suggestion does not provide a promising way out of the puzzle, since an analogous puzzle about concept-application would simply rearise in the case of phenomenal blackness.5 A more flat-footed response to the color puzzle is to reject [2] by arguing that our basic application of “recognitional” concepts is a subpersonal process, which does not require us to draw on any (explicit or implicit) knowledge. In his recent work on perception, Burge (Origins of Objectivity, 2010: 401) endorses a similar view regarding basic

4 Like the original puzzle, this version of the puzzle should be construed as epistemic. Crispin Wright (“Rule-Following without Reasons,” 2008) discusses a closely related problem. 5  An intermediate option is to argue that we classify the color as black based on the color’s look, where the look is a mind-independent property of objects (different from blackness) rather than a subjective property of experiences. Mcgrath (“Knowing what Things Look Like,” 2017) argues for such an account of many of our perceptual classifications—e.g. the judgment that some objects are avocados. However, Mcgrath himself does not extend this account to the classification of basic sensible properties such as blackness; and the account would, anyway, merely duplicate the puzzle at the level of classifying looks-properties.

96  The Implicit/Explicit Strategy perceptual classification, or the perceptual attribution of simple visual qualities (for example, colors, shapes): Perceptual objectification is carried out automatically and unconsciously. It is not intelligent. It is often not even exploratory. It is not an activity by the individual perceiver. It commonly occurs in specialized perceptual subsystems of individuals. The principles according to which the objectification is effected—and the laws or operations described by those principles—reside in the very structure of perceptual systems.

To avoid merely pushing the articulation puzzle back from the level of  language to the level of thought, the proponent of the “encoding-­ difference” account may make an analogous move, taking the process that generates the “verbally interpretable” representation to be unconscious and impervious to our direct control. Once constructed, such a representation could inform our production of words, so that, when it is in place, we could articulate our thoughts in the puzzling cases in the streamlined way that we articulate our ordinary thoughts. Thus, as on the comparator account in Chapter 4, our recognition of the correct formulation may still be based on the output of a monitoring mechanism, such as the comparator. But the monitor kicks in only once the representation is in place, which is why we falter in identifying the formulations of our thoughts prior to then. On the encoding-difference account, such a representation may be constructed in a piecemeal fashion. The mechanism that constructs it may divide the thought’s content into more basic units of information and successively relay them to the representation, in accordance with the form of the thought. Our production of words may follow on the heels of each stage in the construction.6 So, instead of waiting for the complete representation to be formed, the monitor may start working on fragments of its characteristic inputs: the still-incomplete representation, and the partial formulations (for example, individual sentences or clauses) that we lay down or rehearse in inner speech. When a fragment 6  For more on this type of “incremental processing” at various levels of speech production, see Levelt’s discussion (Speaking, 1998: ch. 1) of serial vs incremental production.

The encoding-difference account: First pass  97 of the representation is formed, we can determine whether our partial formulations fit or fail to fit it and reject any complete formulation that is incongruent with it. But the representation may not be finished until the final stages of the articulation process, so we may be unsure about the adequacy of some formulations up to the very end.7 To be sure, unlike our basic application of “recognitional” concepts, producing and identifying the formulations of our thoughts, in the puzzling cases, is manifestly a personal-level process. Whatever the correct account of it is, articulating a thought is clearly different from an activity with the following structure. I generate a bunch of words/phrases at random. I then discover, as it were, to my surprise, that they mean something in my language, something that happens to express what I am thinking at that time. As Collingwood (The Principles of Art, 1958: 111) remarks, “there is certainly here a directed process: an effort, that is, directed upon a certain end; but the end is not something foreseen and preconceived to which appropriate means can be thought out in the light of our knowledge of its special character.” But our role in articulation, on the encoding difference account, need not merely consist in passively waiting for fragments, while erratically deploying words, and actively responding to fragments, while deploying words mechanically, as the monitor informs us of their suitability. To begin with, we would still need to put effort into following the construction of the representation: we would have to avoid getting diverted and veering off on tangents; and we would have to take heed that our judgments about the fittingness of our words are driven by the monitoring system, and not simply by our inferences, expectations, (for example, aesthetic) preferences, and so on. Conversely, the words that the monitoring system marks off, as meeting a certain built-in standard of informational equivalence (or literal fit), may still fall short of satisfying some of our own (more exacting) verbal standards. Such a situation could arise when our purpose of

7  A variant of such a view might posit a series of representations that build on one another, in a multi-tiered “sharpening” process, which culminates in the final representation. But it is unclear what the intermediary representations could be, what linguistic ingredients they would allow us to check for correctness, or how this account could avoid invoking a separate monitoring capacity (or capacities) dedicated to operating on such representations, exclusively in the puzzling cases.

98  The Implicit/Explicit Strategy literal expression overlaps or competes with some of the other (for ex­ample, stylistic or rhetorical) purposes that we may try to fulfill in articulating our thought. For example, the order in which the fragments are merged into the representation may not always reflect the optimal arrangement of their articulations on the page. So we may sometimes work on several fragments simultaneously. Rather than just tacking on words and sentences at the end, we may cut in or shift around sentences, as we move from one part to another, reorder embeddings, or make more extensive ongoing revisions to the formulation, to improve its overall cohesiveness. And we would need to keep track of all the earlier parts of the formulation, as we proceed, to ensure that each new part that we add fits their syntax and links up (for example, anaphorically) to their meaning.

2.  Preliminary challenges Nevertheless, there are at least four main problems with this account. These problems are not, I think, fatal, but should be viewed as challenges that a worked-out version of the account would have to meet. • The Problem of Lag. The problem comes from the fact that the ­construction of the verbally interpretable representation would inevitably take some time. However, the moment I am struck by the objection, it seems that I could hear someone else in the seminar express it, and, upon hearing it, instantly tell that it captures my thought. Given the difficulty I would have in articulating it on my own, it seems that I cannot already have the verbally interpretable representation. But, since I have not yet constructed the representation, and thus cannot rely on the monitor, it is unclear what the basis for my recognition could be. In short, there need not be any time gap between first registering the thought and being able to recognize its formulation. But such a gap seems to be required, on the present account. • The Problem of Organization. On the encoding-difference account, all the work of assembling the fragments would be done by the mech­an­ism that constructs the representation. So we should expect

Preliminary challenges  99 us to relay the representation’s content on the page, in a single sequence or sweep, roughly in the order in which the fragments come, occasionally making cosmetic changes, or halting for lack of feedback, but putting off any major organizational decisions until all the fragments are in place. However, looking at what happens in the puzzling cases reveals nothing of this sort. Contrary to what we would expect from the present account, the words that we produce in the initial stages of articulation come in varying degrees of generality, and could pertain to any part of our thought whatsoever. Simply adding the words in the sequence in which they (or their respective fragments) appear may yield something desultory and incoherent. And so, rather than postponing all the organizational decisions until most of the information is on the page, we seem to have no choice but to concern ourselves with the global makeup of the formulation right from the start. On the present account, we would expect us slavishly to follow the construction of the representation, without any major influence on how it is organized. But we do seem to have such influence, from the very beginning. • The Problem of Completion. The third problem for the encodingdifference account is that, on it, the verbally interpretable representation would be produced prior to the completion of the articulation. So it is unclear why we would ever feel compelled to complete the articulation process to come to know what we are thinking, or why our uncertainty as to whether we have any definite thought to express may persist up to the moment we bring the process to a close. Completing the articulation process seems indispensable for us to come to know our thoughts. But it seems to be optional, on the present account; having the representation would either automatically provide us with (explicit) knowledge of our thought, or at least make it possible for us acquire such knowledge by directly consulting the representation. Indeed, the account is sketchy on why we would need to produce any words to come to know our thoughts. A deeper challenge for the encoding-difference account comes from the character of our own engagement in the process of articulation. To understand this problem, we must go over the seminar-objection

100  The Implicit/Explicit Strategy scen­ario once more, while refocusing the microscope lens on some of the more elusive aspects of the process. As predicted by this account, we will see that articulation in the puzzling cases is sub-served by an unconscious thought process. The process mediates our transition from our initial registration of the thought to the better-informed state that we get into once we finish. However, contrary to what this account predicts, the process is not entirely sub-personal: we can become enmeshed in it, and control its progress directly, while catching rare glimpses into its mode of operation.

3.  Inside the formatting process Reflecting on what other people in the seminar have said and prodding myself with some leading questions (for example, “What is it that bothers me about the speaker’s view?!”), I begin producing and receiving words, which I am somewhat tempted to write down. In an impatient rush, I produce a statement that expresses the kernel of what troubles me about the speaker’s view. But the statement is so general as to be almost empty; I am unsure if there is any point in putting it in at all. Phrases, sentences, templates to be filled with words suggest themselves to me and seem applicable to capturing the objection. But, reflecting on them, I cannot see how they fit together or what their role in capturing it would be. Tuning in to this stream of words inhibits the preceding chain of analogies and associations. As I try to settle on a good place to start, the unconscious channel that delivers the desultory words works in tandem with my own deliberate word production. The words that come from the channel and that seem pertinent to my objection gradually shape up, and become more amenable and adapted to my purposes. The scattered phrases form into clearer sentences, and the sentences become less rambling and coalesce into longer and more integrated chunks. Rather than doing anything sophisticated like outlining or reasoning about the objection, I simply perpetuate this natural tendency for organization by attending to the words and continually running through the phrases and sentences, as they come, rattling around in my head (or in my “phono­logic­al loop”), while testing various combinations and ways of fleshing out gaps.

Inside the formatting process  101 In making such experimental combinations, I concentrate, as much as possible, on letting go of my explicit conception of the objection, or of what I wanted or expected it to be. I deliberately shrink myself to my primitive capacity of “messing around with stuff,” or trial-and-error: of doing something arbitrarily, for no specific reason (other than just to try it), then stepping back and checking whether I like the result. In ap­proxi­ mat­ing becoming such a pure experimenter or “tryer,” I am searching for something that would stimulate me or that would arouse my interest in a particular way. I exercise my primitive trial-and-error capacity rapidly, over-and-over again, relentlessly generating and testing com­bin­ ations; to put it more familiarly, I “bang my head against the wall and wait for something to happen.” I resist putting anything down until a worthwhile candidate comes. Rather than evaluating the words for their fittingness to the objection, I am testing them for their facility to gather up a particular feeling—an intellectual energy or momentum—required for propelling me on a certain route. I am confident that I will know it when I see it. But I cannot tell exactly what it is that I am expecting to see, or to predict whether any of the things that I consider doing would help bring it about, in advance of seeing the result. The words that come to me from the unconscious channel seem neither entirely right/wrong nor entirely lacking in feedback. Each word or phrase seems to carry a faint promise or to invite me to follow it onto some unknown path. But their allure is weak; they seem drab and unexciting. I block most of the words as soon as they arrive. In some cases, I  briefly pursue the temptation of using the words, or of taking them over from the channel, either by voicing them, in inner speech, or by typing them, reluctantly, on the page. I may utter “conflation of . . .” or “confusion between the . . .” to myself. Once I give in to the temptation to deploy them, I am pulled to think that some specific things in the speaker’s view are being confused or conflated. But, as soon as I withdraw and check over the words, they freeze, become inert and static. I lose track of what the things are, or my grip on what the confusion is, and am left with mere empty words, which I understand fully, in their ordinary sense, but with no longer any clue for how to fill the dots so as to go on. Remarkably, even the most obscure words often seem to give me partial glimpses into the objection. But, stepping back and reading over them, I  realize that I have overstretched their meaning, and that they would

102  The Implicit/Explicit Strategy seem like nonsense to anyone else; indeed, I may not know what I myself have meant by them the moment I wrote them down! While trying out words and going over their combinations, a sentence comes and elicits the very exact feeling that I have been waiting for and, unwittingly, trying hard to recover, from the time of being struck by the objection, in which outrage, intellectual excitement, teeth-cringing incredulity, along with other shades of feeling, all intricately mix their lights. The sentence answers one of my leading questions by capturing the problematic consequence of the speaker’s view. It lures me in; and, since I cannot refrain from typing it, I put it down and get on with laying out the problem with it. As I do this, I notice that I suddenly have no need for rummaging through a barrage of freewheeling and unwieldy words that intrude on me from an external channel and tempt me to try them out. I am in full possession of myself and exercise full control over the articulation process; every word that enters my experience is now mine. For the time being, everything I do is effortless and easy. It is as though I have spent too long dipping my toes in the river, and now that I have finally dived in it, I realize that the temperature is cool and pleasant, once I start swimming, and that I should not have hesitated but plunged right in. I am in the channel, carried along by the feeling. The destination is still uncertain. But I am no longer tempted to step in-and-out of it by endlessly putting things down and cautiously backing out to check the result. I do not nudge myself with questions, think of other objections, or try to induce any effect in myself. Indeed, I am no longer trying to do something: I am doing it. I am not thinking about words but am using words in thinking about the objection. The repetitive, tedious trying is all gone. The hurdle of tapping into the thought process, via the mindless “head-banging,” or the persistent application of trial-and-error, gives way to the more interesting and sophisticated challenge of riding it through to the end. The feeling that lured me into it is now the very medium that I move in, serving as both a limit and a reference point for what I do. Rather than engaging in any effortful reasoning or planning, I am merely sustaining the feeling by fighting off distractions and juggling the discordant feelings and inclinations, which occasionally gnaw at it through the cracks. I keep the words that make the feeling grow stronger, and quickly dismiss ones that foster feelings that block it or drag it down.

The encoding-difference account: Second pass  103 Protecting the stability of the feeling may require dealing with ­repulsion, dissatisfaction, the spirit of incessant questioning, which pushes me to pause and criticize every tiny aspect of what I do, along with many other conflicting feelings and inclinations. The negative and distracting influences may increase and take over in unpredictable and subtle ways. Indeed, it may become impossible not to pull out altogether, to get stuck, and to be forced to regain the feeling, time and time over, so as to re-enter the thinking process, once more, by painful trying. But, crucially, the difficulties that I face in thinking are affective, not intellectual, and their resolution requires exercising a certain kind of emotional wisdom, rather than reflecting or putting in effort. To be sure, every now and then, while I am in the process, I may still consider a question to see if I could answer it. But I do not prod or delegate anything. There is no other process or me that I could ask for clues: I am a part of the process, at one with the intricate feeling that guides me through it, and am at once both the questioner and the answerer.

4.  The encoding-difference account: Second pass We are now in a position to see the deeper problem that our engagement in the process of articulation poses for the encoding-difference account. The proponent of this account divides articulation into two separate processes: a. the sub-personal thought process that constructs the verbally interpretable representation and renders our initial thought suit­ able for expression; b. the personal-level process of setting out and arranging the information in the representation on the page—i.e., of putting the representation’s content into English. On the present account, the two processes operate alongside each other. The output of [a] informs the personal-level process [b], via the operation of the monitoring mechanism. But [b] has no direct, systematic impact on [a]. Indeed, given such a stark breakdown of processes, it is unclear how anything that we do could ever influence or accelerate

104  The Implicit/Explicit Strategy [a] at all, or why we would ever hazard to initiate [b] before the ­representation is fully constructed. As we would expect from this account, our activity in the puzzling cases is sub-served by an unconscious thought process. The process delivers words that strike us as pertinent to the thought to some extent. At first, we experience ourselves as caught outside this process: we scrutinize its deliverances and facilitate it in an indirect way. But, with effort, we may become absorbed in the process and experience ourselves as actively producing and evaluating words. In this frame of mind, we remain oblivious to the exact criteria of evalu­ation; upon correcting a syntax error, we do not think “Aha! Lack of number agreement between subject and verb!” The monitoring systems that spot the error remain inaccessible and the thought is opaque to us until we bring the process to a close. Nevertheless, contrary to what the present account predicts, the process is not wholly sub-personal; in a peculiar way, it straddles the personal/sub-personal divide.

4.1.  Our involvement in articulation To understand the nature of this straddling, we can start by looking at a more basic case of expression: the expression of emotion in action—for example, scratching one’s head in frustration, ruffling someone’s hair in affection, punching the air in delight. Such spontaneous displays of emotion can start out as involuntary. However, unlike the involuntary bodily changes that are part of an emotion (for example, blushing, perspiring, trembling), an expression of emotion can at least sometimes be something that we do, or try to do, intentionally. All the same, in the process of expressing an emotion, the emotional state need not itself be  something that enters our deliberation. Indeed, in her “Arational Actions” (1991), Rosalind Hursthouse argues that many actions expressive of emotions cannot be explained in terms of reasons at all.8 I may 8  On Hursthouse’s view, actions such as smashing the vase in anger serve as counter­­ex­amples to the Humean conception of intentional action, on which the reason for an action consists of a belief–desire pair. Smith (“The Possibility of Philosophy of Action,” 1998) defends the Humean conception by arguing that the reason for smashing the vase could be the desire to smash the vase along with the belief that one can do this by doing what one is doing. The emotional state, according to Smith, does serves not as a reason but as a “supplement” to the explanation. Goldie (The Emotions, 2000) objects that, in many cases, appealing to the emotion

The encoding-difference account: Second pass  105 allow myself to smash a vase in the grip of anger, but I do not deliberate and decide to do it, in the belief that it would optimally express my mental state. At best, this would be a way of mimicking an angry expression. The emotion helps precisely by relieving some of the burden of choosing how to act. I could express the emotion poorly or disproportionally to the situation, but there is no risk of misidentifying the emotion and expressing a different one by mistake. While identifying an emotion is not needed for expressing it, expressing an emotion can, on the contrary, help us identify it in ourselves. As we saw in the conclusion to Chapter 3, prior to expressing my anger, I may be aware of it only as an unidentified perturbation— an unknown confluence of feelings that push me to have certain thoughts and act in certain ways. By expressing it, I may become aware of it as anger, and come to know it as such. The self-knowledge I gain in this way differs from the kind of knowledge that I may gain through abductive inference. Catching myself acting in ways that are indicative of anger may increase the subjective likelihood of that hypothesis, without altering how the emotion itself is felt. By contrast, becoming aware of my emotion as anger goes beyond merely thinking of it as such. Unlike the conclusion of an inference, the anger is not given to me with a measure of probability. Like the state of affairs presented to me in perception, it does not merely strike me as probable or plausible but confronts me with the character of a fact. Although expressing an emotion may be something we do intentionally, the nature and origin of the link between the emotion and its expression is not something to which we generally give much thought.9 Nevertheless, in expressing our emotions, we are aware of our actions as more or less appropriate to them. The experience is not exhausted by our awareness of our actions as driven by the emotions. To be sure, is not enough, and the explanation must get a further supplement in the form of an “idle desire” or a “wish” (e.g. to smash the person I am angry with). And Green (Self-Expression, 2007) extends the explanation further by appealing to the notion of make-believe, or the desire to make as if I am smashing the person. Nothing I say here is meant to exclude these views. The notion of a subject’s reason for a response, on the Humean conception, is much broader than the one I am working with here. Since the beliefs and desires featured in these views need not be available to the subject in any shape or form, they are not reason-giving, in my sense. 9  A classic source of many illuminating evolutionary explanations is Darwin (The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animal, 1872).

106  The Implicit/Explicit Strategy many actions out of emotion may be registered in this way—only as ­passionate actions. But there is a felt qualitative difference between such passionate actions and actions expressive of emotion. In expressing our emotions, we recognize our actions not only as fueled by the emotions, but, also, as expressing them. Just as our actions can fall under the sway of emotions, our emotions themselves may fall under the influence of other states. The role of emotion in thinking has long been recognized by philosophers and psych­olo­gists. According to Vigotsky (Thought and Language, 1962), “every thought contains a transmuted affective attitude toward the bit of reality to which it refers.” A similar idea has been at the core of Antonio Damasio’s work (Descartes’ Error, 1994) on “somatic markers.” On Damasio’s “somatic marker hypothesis,” our thoughts about practical possibilities are paired with different emotional valences—for example, pleasant or unpleasant “gut feelings.” The “somatic markers” function as criteria that facilitate the decision-making process by helping us sift through vast, and otherwise overwhelming, numbers of alternatives, highlighting some, and eliminating others from consideration. A more ubiquitous version of the somatic-markers hypothesis, on which all our concepts are associated with “microvalences,” or subtle pieces of affect that facilitate rapid selection of a response, has recently been reinforced by Lebrecht and Tarr (“Defining an Object’s Microvalence through Implicit Measures,” 2010). Although less explored than its role in thinking, the role of emotion in the expression of thought has also been noted by a number of philo­ sophers. Collingwood (The Principles of Art, 1958: 225) writes, “The expression of any given thought is effected through the expression of the emotion accompanying it.” The accompanying emotion could be our affective response to the thought or the affective configuration in response to which the thought itself was formed. In expressing such an emotion, we act out of the emotion. But, although our choices of words are helped by it, it is the thought, not the emotion, that ultimately gets expressed.10 10  The mechanism that couples emotions with thoughts may not only mobilize existing emotions, ones that are already implicated in other activities, but, also, give rise to a new order of emotions, ones that can arise only in someone who can think. The number of such emotions may be limited only by the number of thoughts that one can have. This hypothesis is especially congruent with viewing the mechanism as one of appraisal. Reacting emotionally to the content of a thought is, on this view, already understanding or interpreting it in a certain way.

The encoding-difference account: Second pass  107 Dewey (“The Act of Expression,” in Art as Experience, 1934: 69) makes a similar observation: In the development of an expressive act, the emotion operates like a magnet drawing to itself appropriate material . . . [Emotion] works to effect continuity of movement, singleness of effect amid variety. It is selective of material and directive of its order and arrangement. But it is not what is expressed.

In the lack of explicit knowledge of our thought, we cannot adequately plan its formulation by engaging in means–ends reasoning—no matter how elaborate, our plan is bound to contain a gap. Indeed, although the similarities between the thought and other thoughts that we consider may point us in the rough direction, the selection of the appropriate words is not a problem that we can solve through reflection at all. Even if we had this knowledge, there are just too many possibilities. And so, our optimal strategy is often to proceed by trial and error, with the hope not of producing the correct formulation by chance, but of bringing about a spontaneous process of expression that would take care of the problem for us. Just as with the process of expressing an emotion, the process we attempt to bring about is directly controlled by the thought, or our affective response to it, without any intervening reasoning or planning. As long as we are occupied with such activities, we experience the process as sub-personal. However, once the process is sufficiently active, we can become absorbed in it and experience ourselves as freely carrying it out. Crucially, the freedom we exercise in this process is not that of choice between alternatives; if this were the case, we would indeed need to have some reasons (for example, in the form of some knowledge or feelings) to help us decide. The freedom in question is perhaps better described as the freedom from having to choose.11 The words that we produce are free not in the sense of being deliberately selected but in the sense of being unimpeded by any internal censorship or constraint. 11  Whereas the former characterizes our freedom in the process of deliberation, the latter characterizes our freedom in engaging in many artistic pursuits. For an attempt to disentangle our control over the process of artistic creation from the control we have over our actions in the practical sphere, see Christopher Prodoehl (“Aesthetic Insight and Mental Agency,” 2019).

108  The Implicit/Explicit Strategy Like the process of emotional expression, the process culminates in a distinctive experience of recognition: just as we recognize our emotional expressions as expressive of emotions, in acting out of our affective reactions to our thoughts, we recognize our words as expressing those thoughts.12 However, claiming that we recognize a formulation as expressing the thought that p does not yet tell us anything about what this recognition amounts to and how we manage to recognize it as expressing our own thought rather than simply a thought with a certain content. To answer these questions, we need to look closer at the nature of our implicit knowledge of our thoughts and how we bring this know­ ledge to bear in recognizing the correct words. To do this while drawing on independently credible epistemic resources, let us return to the application of basic perceptual concepts—for example, of color.

4.2.  A model of color recognition We can agree with Burge that perceptual objectification is carried out by sub-personal mechanisms outside of our direct control. However, perceiving a color is one thing; thinking or making a judgment about it is another. When I see a color, a highly specific color shade is present in my experience. I could think of it as my favorite color, the color flamingos, cherry blossoms, and my desk-lamp have in common, the color between red and white, and numerous other ways. But the best way of thinking about the color, it seems, the one that totally captures what it is like and leaves nothing out, is by mentally pointing to it—by focusing my attention on the color and saying “this.” In thinking about the color in this way, I feel that I have grabbed on to a piece of reality with my thinking. The color itself, rather than some abstract description, is incorporated into my way of thinking about it. What makes this episode an instance of thinking about the color, though? On the face of it, the same sequence of operations should be 12  Our experiences of expressions share several characteristics that suggest that they belong to a single level of representation. One telling characteristic of such experiences is that they can be ruined by repetition and prolonged attention. The susceptibility of emotional expressions to “perceptual adaptation” provides some prima facie evidence that emotional states are attributed already at the perceptual level. For more on this, see Block (“Seeing-As in the Light of Vision Science,” 2014).

The encoding-difference account: Second pass  109 possible for a creature wholly incapable of thought: all one needs is attention and the capacity for saying “this.” In attending to the color, I  appear to seize hold of the exact color property made salient in my experience and judge that the highly specific color that I am seeing falls under it. But judging that a color looks a certain way must go beyond experiencing a specific color. At minimum, it requires having some cognitive fix on the color property and attributing the color property to the specific color we see. On a bare dispositionalist account, our cognitive fix on the color could consist in a “differential sensitivity” to the color, or a stable dis­ pos­ition to pick out positive and negative instances of it; attributing the color property could consist in manifesting the disposition in the presence of specific colors. It is, however, doubtful whether such an account can adequately explain our thinking about colors in the simplest cases. The problem is not a general one about the explanatory efficacy of dis­ pos­itions. It is rather that the dispositionalist seems to get the order of explanation backwards in this particular case. For it seems that my cognitive fix on the color—my knowledge of what it is like—should explain why I am disposed to recognize its instances, not the other way around. Nor is it obvious why a stable disposition should be necessary for having such knowledge. Much of the information that we register through our senses is discarded no sooner than it comes in. Likewise, my grasp of what the color is like could (in principle) be fleeting and not last much longer than my initial experience of it. Finally, could we not manage to classify the color, even if we are generally lousy at classifying it? One could perhaps iron out these worries by refining the relevant notion of a disposition. But, instead of doing so, let me propose a slightly less austere account. On the alternative account, the categorical basis for our disposition, or our cognitive fix on the color, consists in a stored “signature” of the color: a copy of the aspect of color experience that is shared by its instances, which we obtain by focusing our attention on it. Attributing the color property, by making a color judgment, consists in matching specific colors in our experience with its signature.13 Notice that making 13  On this model, the signature functions as a representational vehicle of the color. But not any associated experience can serve as the signature of the item it is associated with. For

110  The Implicit/Explicit Strategy such attributions does not require consciously calling up an image of the color and comparing it with the color we see. Nor do we need to think of the persistence of the signature as literally having an image in mind. Rather, what persists is a certain slice of visual information that is marked off for future use—a repeatable aspect of experience, rather than some particular item (for example, a concrete sample) that exemplifies the color. The signature could be as short-lived as our visual experience or could be stored in memory for an indefinite time. It could represent a more specific color property than any of the ones denoted by our color words. And it could ground our ability to recall the color, compare it to other colors along various dimensions, and make other qualitative judgments about it.14 Given the right set of interests, the signature could become integrated into the subject’s body of explicit knowledge, by serving as part of a more complex structure—a kind of dossier or file that functions to accumulate information about the color. Such a file can be divided into two components, one implicit, the other explicit. The implicit component contains a “slot” for the color (the signature), which enables the subject to reidentify the color across time. This component need not be ac­cess­ ible to the subject at the time of reidentification; just as we can recognize a smell or a taste without being able to imagine it, we can recognize a color, without the ability to consult the information that allows us to reidentify it. The explicit component of the file contains information about the color that is accessible to the subject and that the subject can reason with and report— for example, the fact that it is a color, the word ex­ample, the experience of smoke is associated with heat but does not serve as the signature of this property. Although heat is “swiftly derivable” from the appearance of smoke, the appearance of smoke does not give rise to an awareness in which heat itself seems present. 14 Such signatures are akin to the “stored sensory templates” posited by Papineau (“Phenomenal and Perceptual Concepts,” 2006). In mediating the application of general concepts to specific experiences, they also bear a close resemblance to Kantian “schemata,” discussed in the Schematism section of the Critique of Pure Reason (A138/B177). On Kant’s view, the schemata are both sensible and general representations. For example, the schema for the concept zebra consists in (something like) the common look that all zebras share. It is sensible in that we experience zebras as having that look, and it is general in that it applies to multiple zebras. The subsumption of appearances under concepts by means of such representations, for Kant, is an activity that goes on all the time, but is not something we often catch ourselves in the act of doing. “The schematism of our understanding with regard to appearances and their mere form is a hidden art in the depth of the human soul, whose true operations we can divine from nature and lay unveiled before our eyes only with difficulty” (A141–2/B180–1).

The encoding-difference account: Second pass  111 My favorite color A type of pink

Explicit component

Last observed at time t The color of flamingos

Reasoning Report

Implicit component

Signature Recognition


Figure 5.2.  A model of color recognition

for it, some salient episodes when it was present, and other properties. Some of these properties may be erased and others may be added with time; and the explicit information in the file may fluctuate from context to context. However, whenever a quality of our experience matches the color signature, or fits into the color slot in the file, the whole file gets activated and its explicit information becomes available to the subject in bulk, without any further processing. This model of color recognition is illustrated in Figure 5.2. For all I have said so far, the process by which we identify a color, on this model, could take place entirely behind the scenes. Perceiving a color could trigger a match, and this may, in turn, activate various pieces of information about the color. However, in responding to a color ex­peri­ence, I am usually justified in making some judgments (for ex­ample, that I am experiencing this (perceptually presented) color, which I am experiencing pink) but not others (for example, that I am experiencing fuchsia or magenta). Moreover, I can usually tell that these judgments differ epistemically, at the time of making them. It seems reasonable for me to judge that the color looks like this, and that it looks pink, but it seems arbitrary (risky or epistemically reckless) for me to judge that it looks fuchsia or magenta, even though it may in fact fit these classifications. Part of the explanation for these disparities is already built into the model’s design. After all, I have a stored signature of pink. I also have a

112  The Implicit/Explicit Strategy signature of the maximally specific shade of pink presented to me in my visual experience (at least while the experience lasts), which allows me to make the demonstrative judgment about it. But I lack stored signatures of fuchsia and magenta, which may explain why I am not justified in making immediate judgments involving these colors. Acquiring such additional signatures—for example, by honing my color expertise— would make my judgments about these colors both justified and intelligible from my point of view. But, whatever explanatory work the signatures are doing, the ex­plan­ ation cannot be as easy as saying that I can deliberately call to mind a signature of pink but not the signature of fuchsia or magenta, since recognizing the colors does not require having these further abilities. Nor does the difference simply lie in the acquisition of expertise, since my expertise need not itself be something that I think about or that otherwise enters my perspective. And, given that I seem to be justified in many of my color judgments (for example, “I am seeing this color”) without any special expertise, the role of expertise in the explanation does not anyway seem essential. A more plausible role for the signatures in the explanation lies in the impact of their activation on our color experience. I may experience a color in the highly specific way it is presented to me in perception; and I may experience it as generic pink. But, after a while, I may start picking up on more differences and similarities and come to experience it as fuchsia. On the present account, my attribution of the color and the new aspect under which I experience it both result from the activation of the color’s signature. Whether the experience reflects some standing competence or occurs fortuitously, for the first time, the fact that the color is presented to me in this way helps explain why I am justified in thinking that it is present and why I find it reasonable to judge that it is there. Notice that the role of my color experience in the explanation is not that of supplying an extra reason for the judgment: judging that I am presented with fuchsia for the reason that I am presented with it would be patently circular. And I do not come to judge this by considering the experience and engaging in some extra bit of reasoning from it. The judgment and the experience are products of a single process of recognition, so that, as soon as I am aware of the color, the judgment is in place;

The encoding-difference account: Second pass  113 to take the experience at face value is no more than to forgo questioning it, or seeking to interpret it in other ways. The epistemology of color judgment, on this account, thus dispenses with the appeal to reasons, while still accounting for why such judgments make sense from the first-person point of view.15 What makes it reasonable for me to judge that the color is fuchsia is the fact that the color appears to me as fuchsia, and not some other way. On the present account, such “seeming” or “appearance” consists in a recognition ex­peri­ence brought about by the activation of the color’s signature—the distinctive aspect of our perceptual experience that instances of the color share. Once abstracted and integrated into a suitable type of file, this aspect acts as a “recognitional concept”—a vehicle for representing a color property, which surpasses a mere subjective sensation. The color judgment that results from the application of this concept is justified not by some separate, supporting consideration that the subject consults but by the fact that, to the subject, things are (or appear to be) as though the color itself is present.16

15  Although the explanation cites no considerations that the subject counts in favor of the judgment, one might argue that there are still some facts that could be regarded as the subject’s reasons, in an attenuated sense. The issue here is terminological, since there are multiple candidates for what such facts could be—e.g. the tokening of the perceptual experience, the tokening of the recognitional experience, the facts such experiences represent, and more. Given the plur­al­ity of options and nothing to militate between them, it seems preferable to dispense with talk of reasons altogether rather than seek some facts that would count as reasons, in a noninferential sense. 16  One benefit of the model is in providing a solution to the thorny epistemological problem of the speckled hen—of explaining why we can be justified in judging that a hen has many speckles (or two speckles, or three speckles, etc.) but not forty-eight speckles, without counting the speckles, given that all the speckles are represented in our experience of the hen. The answer, on the present model, is that, while we possess the signatures of numbers below a certain value, as well as the signature of the property of being numerous, we do not possess the signature of forty-eight. And so, while a hen can appear to us as having two, three, or many speckles, it cannot appear to us as having forty-eight of them. This solution fits well with the strong empirical evidence for the existence of a “number sense”: a system of analog magnitude representations that underpins many types of numerical discriminations (for a review, see Susan Carey, The Origin of Concepts, 2009: ch. 4); indeed, the signatures postulated by the present model could even be identical to the analog number representations posited by Stanislas Dehaene (The Number Sense, 1997). Whether the justification for the judgments delivered by such a “number sense” counts as purely perceptual or perceptual plus recognitional depends on whether the recognition experience is a built-in ingredient of perceptual states—an issue on which I take no stand. What is notable is that the factors that make such judgments justified are available to the subject and that the subject’s justification does not itself rest on any other supporting propositions.

114  The Implicit/Explicit Strategy The basic application of color concepts, on this model, consists in the drawing of a match between the color’s signature and our experience of specific colors. But the ways in which we obtain and hold on to such signatures differ between two types of cases. In the case of the colors that we pick out by our color words, the signatures are obtained by discarding some of the color information contained in our perceptual experience. Although we could in principle acquire such signatures by chance, we usually gain them in more directed ways, through exposure to public samples. The signatures are retained by being stored in memory. In deploying them, our perceptual experience of colors is “pruned” or abstracted, in a progressive testing for a match. Once a (qualitative) identity between the signature and the abstracted aspect is established, we become aware of the point of similarity, and the process of recognition stops. By contrast, in the case of the subtle colors that we pick out by mental pointing (for example, by focusing our attention on a color and saying “this”), the signatures are not abstracted from the color aspects of our perceptual experience but are (strictly) identical to them. Having such signatures does not require relying on memory: the signatures are retained in virtue of the persistence of the perceptual ex­peri­ence and the fact that the momentary snapshots that make up our continuous perception of the color represent the color as the same.17 The difference between the two cases helps reconcile two prima facie conflicting observations about our experience of colors. On the one hand, a color expert (for example, a painter) can spend a long time learning to discriminate between ever more specific shades of color— from fuchsia to bougainvillea fuchsia to more specific shades still. On the other hand, a child, or any one of us, with no special training, can look at a color and straight away be aware of it as the highly specific color that it is. There need not be a tension between the two observations if we understand recognition as taking place at two distinct levels. At one level, the child and the painter both see the same richly detailed color, which is in fact fuchsia, bougainvillea fuchsia, and so on. But only the painter recognizes the color as falling under the latter classifications.

17  Representing the color as the same is distinct from representing the color as being the same or judging it to be so on two separate occasions; the latter ability but not the former presupposes recognition. For an account of the distinction, see Kit Fine (Semantic Relationism, 2007).

The encoding-difference account: Second pass  115 At this level, the painter has a richer appreciation of the color than the child, which grounds further abilities. Both levels make up our total experience of the color. As the painter cultivates her color ex­pert­ise, the signatures of the colors that she acquires become more similar to the built-in signatures of the colors that she perceives. Still, given the limitations of our conceptual competences, there is always some deg­rad­ation of information, and the signatures at the two levels do not fully match. Distinguishing recognition at these two levels helps accommodate another perplexing intuition about color judgment. My perceptual experience is likely to present me with some highly determinate color in color space—for example, upsdell red (or, more likely, an even more specific shade). Intuitively, even though I know that I am seeing some highly determinate shade of red, I do not know that I am seeing upsdell red. Even if I had the name for the color, without special familiarity with it, the judgment would be too risky. But it may be hard to see how this could be the case. In seeing the color, I notice it clearly, in all its richness and specificity. Unlike various fleeting and peripheral aspects of my experience, my perceptual experience of the color could ground a wide range of accurate color discriminations. While the experience lasts, it appears to me that I am confronted with this shade, rather than any other that comes to mind. But this shade just is upsdell red. And so, one might think that the proposition that I am seeing this shade just is the proposition that I am seeing upsdell red. To classify the color as this shade would just be to classify it as upsdell red. If the former judgment is justified, so is the latter. But, if the judgment is both true and justified, it is unclear why it fails to amount to knowledge. On the present account, the classification of the perceptually presented color may consist in the activation of signatures at two distinct levels: a level of recognition that is imposed on the outputs of perception and a level that is built into perceptual states and that helps constitute them as stable states in the first place. Even if I have the concept upsdell red (or the relevant coordinate in color space), using it to classify perceived colors, in the basic way, would require having a signature of the color that is coupled with it. Since the signatures built into perceptual states exist only for the duration of those states, the signature cannot be at that level. An imposed signature that aligns with the perceptual signature of the color would be right for the job; the signatures at this level

116  The Implicit/Explicit Strategy are calibrated to our needs and function to coordinate perception and thought. But, precisely for this reason, such an alignment does not happen: I have no need to reidentify colors as determinate as the ones presented to me in perception, and no capacity to store signatures of colors of that grade of specificity. And, so, I lack stored signatures for them. Consequently, while it makes sense for me to judge that I am seeing this color (via the activation of its perceptual signature), it seems arbitrary for me to judge that I am seeing upsdell red, even if I am cap­able of picking out the color in a general way.

4.3.  From colors to words Just as our implicit knowledge of a color may consist in a stored signature of it, so too our implicit knowledge of a thought may consist in its stored signature—a representation of the thought by means of its associated experience. As we shall see, what plays the role of the signature varies between two types of cases. In many cases, however, such a signature consists in our awareness of the salient properties the thought is about. Take the property of injustice. I listen to a policy proposal at a public hearing. In most cases, evaluating such a policy would take me some time. But not here. The proposal instantly strikes me as unjust—as exemplifying a familiar type of injustice. The awareness is not just intellectual. It is “visceral.” My emotions are engaged. My imagination is exercised. As I imagine the policy playing out in practice, the quality of injustice itself seems to be jumping out of every word. The awareness has a “universal” character; I expect others to share my reaction. But the reaction is not set in stone. Perhaps I could be made to see things differently, though at this moment such a prospect seems dim. Now, as soon as I am aware of this quality, I immediately recognize it for what it is. I do not need to reflect on past experiences in which it was present. I do not need to consult my knowledge of the meaning of “injustice,” or any other such knowledge. The policy strikes me as unjust, and I instantly know that that is how it strikes me.18 18  Such states of awareness resemble “intuitions,” as described by Chudnoff (Intuition, 2013) and Bengson (“The Intellectual Given,” 2015). For both authors, presentational phenomenology

The encoding-difference account: Second pass  117 There could, however, be a rift between this kind of direct p ­ resentation of a property and our knowledge of what it is. The activation of the signature of a property could relate us to the fact of the property’s instantiation. However, having full (explicit) knowledge of this fact requires having cognitive access to it. Among other things, our relation to the fact should allow us to draw on it in a variety of ways, not just in direct qualitative comparisons. Most importantly, the fact must be represented in a form in which it could serve as a reason (or a premise in reasoning) and be directly amenable to reasons (or rational con­sid­er­ ations). For this, the representation that results from the activation of the signature must be coupled with a “verbally interpretable” representation (for example, a sentence or a higher-level representation of its meaning), which is equivalent to it. Such a coordination may come about automatically, if the signatures are acquired through systematic learning and already belong in a file that includes the corresponding explicit information (as in the case of the signatures of the colors that we associate with public language words). However, in cases in which the signatures are gained spontaneously, through an individual course of experience, achieving such integration may take considerable effort. It is plausible that we find ourselves in such a predicament in many of the puzzling cases. For example, in the seminar objection case, you are struck by (what seems to be) a serious flaw in the speaker’s argument and try to get clear on it by putting it into words. In this case, you are already familiar with the problematic feature of the argument that is affecting you; your thought of it is already causally efficacious in virtue of its content, so you are not trying to figure out what the flaw is from scratch. And it would be easier to figure out what the flaw is from scratch than trying to interpret yourself based on some evidential cues (what cues?). What rather happens is that you have a thought directed at the

is a key characteristic of such states. In acknowledging the reality of such states and assigning an important epistemic role to their presentational phenomenology, I am in full agreement with these authors. Unlike these authors, however, I do not view the distinction between in­tu­ itions and ordinary thoughts as basic. Rather, there are two ways of having or being related to thoughts. In the first, we are presented with the contents of thoughts. In the second, we are presented with thoughts as such. On this picture, there is still room for intuition, not as a fundamental type of mental state, nor simply as the quality of being “intuitive” (e.g. as the location of the light switch in the room can be intuitive) but as whatever it is in virtue of which we can be presented with anything (e.g. either the intentional content of a state or the state as such).

118  The Implicit/Explicit Strategy problematic feature; there is nothing in it (or your thought of it) that is vague or imprecise. But you can represent it to yourself in two different ways, using two distinct vehicles. The first is through the activation of its signature—an aspect of your experience (of arguments), integrated into a file for some problematic property that they share. The second is using words, or a higher-level “verbally interpretable” representation of their meaning. The process of articulating the thought, on this model, involves two moments of insight. The first is when you first register the problematic feature and gain the ability to think about it in a private way, via its signature (“Aha! The argument suffers from this problem!”). The second is when you find a formulation that expresses the feature and gain the ability to think about it using public language words (“Aha! The argument equivocates between two senses of the word ‘ground’!”).19 The transition is depicted in Figure 5.3. Possible objection

Illicit equivocation between two senses of the term “ground”

Pertains to argument S

Explicit component

Occurred to me in the seminar

Pertains to argument S Occurred to me in the seminar

Implicit component








Argument S t1


Formulation t2

Figure 5.3.  The process of articulation 19  Transitions of this form are extremely pervasive. You may notice a texture, a sensation, a nuance, and represent it in a personal way, in terms of your experience of it (“I feel this sensation,” “the restaurant gives off this impression,” “the building looks this way”), and then bring these features under concepts expressed by public language words (“I feel a dull pain,” “the restaurant has a rustic feel,” the building has an oatmeal look”). Just as the problematic feature of the argument, the features picked out by the “this” in these cases are general or repeatable

The encoding-difference account: Second pass  119 On the present model, we recognize the correct words when they activate the thought’s signature. The recognition gives rise to a classification of the formulation as matching the thought and an experience of the formulation (as expressing it). Crucially, on this model, our confidence that a formulation captures the thought is not just inductive. The fact that the formulation is accompanied by the same experience that we have had when we first had the thought could (perhaps) provide us with ancillary evidence of a match, in some cases. But, in the first instance, our detection of a match is as cognitively basic as a direct comparison between two colors or simple shapes, or the reidentification of a familiar person. Just as we can recognize a person’s face without thinking back to our previous encounters with the person, we can recognize the problematic feature of the argument, without paying heed to where and when we have registered it before. Given our (explicit) knowledge that the formulation means that p, a “verbally interpretable” representation of p gets incorporated into the thought’s file. We thereby come to know that we are thinking that p and gain the ability immediately to classify the thought again (as the thought that p), whenever it recurs, without having to rearticulate it. Some of the model’s strengths are evident in the swiftness with which it handles the challenges from Section  2. The fact that some formulations can spontaneously activate the signatures of our thoughts helps solve the problem of lag or explain why there need not be any substantive delay between our registration of the problematic feature and our recognition of the appropriate words. For the words to elicit such recognition, we may need to gain closer familiarity with the segment of the language to which they belong than is required for mere knowledge of their meaning. It may not be enough merely to grasp what they say; we may need to attend to them in a way that exceeds the threshold for comprehension. This may explain why sometimes we cannot, and do not types, rather than particular colors, nuances, or sensations. This two-phase structure may characterize many cases of “hermeneutical injustice” discussed by Miranda Fricker (Epistemic Injustice, 2007) and others. In such cases, a significant area of one’s experience is systematically occluded from a subject’s understanding owing to a gap in the collective system of concepts. For example, a person may register a certain pattern of unjust treatment (“I experienced this”), without yet bringing it under a publicly recognizable concept/word (“I was a victim of sexual harassment,” “I was a subject to racial discrimination,” “I was illegally detained”). Finding the appropriate words can be both illuminating and liberating in many such cases.

120  The Implicit/Explicit Strategy even seem to ourselves to be, in a position to tell immediately whether a given formulation is right. In addition to helping with the problem of lag, the model easily handles the problems of organization and completion. The fact that the verbally interpretable representation results from our own work on the formulation (rather than from the work of an unconscious process) helps explain why we cannot wait until the representation is in place and must concern ourselves with the organization of the formulation right from the beginning; just as in solving a jigsaw puzzle, it is often best to start with the biggest pieces, in devising a formulation it often makes the most sense to test the larger structural elements first. Finally, the fact that the representation gets “written into” the file only in virtue of our recognition of the correct words helps explain why we need to complete the articulation process to gain (explicit) knowledge of the thought. Without completing the process, our identification of the thought, when it recurs, is bound to remain partial. One might worry that allowing for the possibility of recognitional identification in the articulation case would open the door to the kind of view Wittgenstein mocked in William Jame—namely, that the words of our language (for example, “if ” and “but”) are associated with dis­tinct­ ive experiences (for example, an if-feeling, a but-feeling, and so on). However, the present model is committed only to a modest version of this view, on which some formulations can activate the signatures of specific thoughts. Indeed, the propensity of a formulation to evoke a felt meaning may accrue slowly and require using the relevant segment of the language for an extended time.20

4.4.  From opacity to transparency As it stands, the model may give the impression that we initially have the thought perfectly clearly in mind, which need not be true, especially 20  The stronger view, on which all meaningful segments of a language one understands give rise to distinctive experiences in which semantic properties are present, is defended by Brogaard (“In Defense of Hearing Meanings,” 2018). Although the present account is not committed to the stronger version of this view, it seems indisputable that the words of our language possess a dimension of felt “significance,” or experienced meaning, over and above their referential function. This dimension of language use has been described by writers in the phenomenological tradition, as recently reviewed by Inkpin (Disclosing the World, 2016).

The encoding-difference account: Second pass  121 when it comes to thoughts with complex contents. In producing a ­formulation, we often bring our “opaque” thought into sharper focus so that our initial awareness of it itself becomes “clear.” And this may seem at odds with the present account. For one may take it to claim that we come to know what we are thinking in virtue of a match between the awareness elicited by the thought and the awareness elicited by its formulation. But that hardly seems right given that our initial awareness of what we are thinking is “unclear” and the awareness we get by means of the formulation is “clear.” To understand what this feeling of clarity is and where it comes from, it will be useful to compare it to an analogous feeling that could be brought to perception by means of art. For example, experiencing the ocean for the first time, its vast blue expanse, the saltiness of the air, the rustling of the waves, and much more, may all be contained in exquisite detail in our perceptual experience of it. However, after spending years living by the ocean, we may tune out and become inured to much of this detail. Our perception of the ocean may do little more than activate its stored signature—the generic ocean-look—leading us to neglect the details in favor of its more general aspects. A work of art, such as a painting or a poem, can undo some of the work of recognition, if only for a short time, making us aware of the ocean closer to the way we experienced before.21 Whether the artist has a firm hold of this impression while creating the artwork or, like the rest of us, only recaptures it after the artwork is done, on some level, we must all retain a trace of it to

21  This function of art was emphasized by the Russian Formalist school of art criticism; for a lively introduction to the movement, see Peter Steiner (Russian Formalism, 1984). Viktor Shklovsky, one of its most influential writers, wrote: “People living at the seashore grow so accustomed to the murmur of the waves that they never hear it. By the same token, we scarcely ever hear the words which we utter . . . Our perception of the world has withered away, what has remained is mere recognition” (quoted in Victor Erlich, Russian Formalism, 1955: 176). Jean Cocteau, one of the leading poets of French Surrealism, echoed this observation, describing the aim of poetry as the reversal of the move toward recognition: “Suddenly, as if in a flash, we see the dog, the coach, the house for the first time. Shortly afterwards habit erases again this potent image. We pet the dog, we call the coach, we live in a house; we do not see them anymore. . . . Such is the role of poetry. It takes off the veil, in the full sense of the word. It reveals . . .” (quoted in Victor Erlich, Russian Formalism, 1955: 179–80). This function of art gives rise to a version of the paradox that we have been examining. For how could we recognize that an artwork captures some aspect of our experience if the role of the artwork is precisely to make us aware of it? If we are unaware of the aspect, we cannot compare it to the experience that the artwork evokes and thus recognize the artwork as capturing it; but, if we are aware of it, and are thus in a position to draw the comparison, the function of the artwork cannot, it seems, be to make us aware of the aspect after all.

122  The Implicit/Explicit Strategy recognize the artwork as disclosing a reality already latent in our ­perception, rather than merely something new and different. Through the artwork, the artist may not only recapture our former perception but bring “clarity” to the objects of our present perception as well. The feeling of clarity that an artwork brings to the objects of perception is akin to the feeling of clarity that a formulation may bring to the objects of thought. But the need for achieving such clarity comes from a different source in the two cases. In the case of perception, the need comes from the discrepancy between the signatures built into our perceptual states and the signatures that we impose on the outputs of perception. Unlike perceptual signatures, the latter are largely abstracted to advance our practical ends; their activation presents us with properties that reflect our interests and that are distant from the properties we usually perceive. For example, our perceptual experience may present us with an object of a highly specific shape, size, texture, and so on. But, at the level of recognition, we may be aware of it only as belonging to a certain functional category (for example, as a street lamp or a kitchen knife). An artwork can arrest the process of recognition and slow down the subsumption of the object under the more generic categories, leading us to recognize it as the same thing we have seen before but giving us a glimpse of its constitution at a more fundamental level. In addition to activating the signatures of such categories, the artwork provides us with signatures that bear a closer resemblance to the unabstracted aspects of our perceptual experience; indeed, helping us cultivate and preserve such signatures may be one of the key functions of many arts. Through their activation, the way an object is presented to us in recognition may, at least for a short while, approximate the way it is given to us on the more basic level. Our awareness of the match between the signatures at the two levels constitutes the feeling of clarity or disclosure. Just as an artwork can bring clarity to our perception by providing us with signatures of the objects and properties that we perceive, a formulation can bring clarity to our thought by providing us with signatures of the items (for example, properties, structures, relations) that it represents. However, unlike the objects of perception whose clarity we recapture through art, the objects of our thoughts in the puzzling cases are often novel to us, and so are not hidden from us because of their fa­mil­iar­ity. The felt “opacity” of these thoughts is brought about not by

The encoding-difference account: Second pass  123 the passage of time but by something that could be there during their very formation. As a first pass, one might identify the culprit with the operation of attention. The properties we are aware of in the puzzling cases (for example, the problematic feature of the speaker’s view) are often given to us only in virtue of our attention to further items: the speaker’s claims. To enter as inputs to processes of recognition, such properties must be taken as objects of attention. But, since our awareness of them is itself sustained by our attention, no sooner do we try to shift our attention to them than our awareness of them is gone. But, while it is true that the objects of our thoughts in the puzzling cases seem to vanish from our awareness as soon as we try to reflect on them, appealing to attention does not explain why this happens. To begin with, the account is not general enough: the thoughts in the puzzling cases need not result from the operation of attention and the ones that do need not involve concurrent attention to further items. Moreover, even in cases that do involve attention to such items, it is unclear why we need to withdraw our attention from them to attend to the properties presented to us by our thoughts; after all, attention can be split and allocated to multiple objects.22 Finally, since the properties we are aware of are presented to us, it is unclear in what sense we are not attending to them already. Rather than being caused by a contingent limitation of our capacity of attention, the disappearance of the objects of our thoughts, in the act of  reflection, lies more broadly in the nature of reflective awareness. Like other elements of our perspective, such as emotions and desires, thoughts can directly control our responses by presenting things to us in certain ways. An emotion, such as anger or irritation, may make us aware of a person as doing something terrible or annoying, leading us to say things we soon regret. A desire may make an object seem appealing 22  For the same reason, appealing to attention cannot, on its own, explain why skilled performers, such as athletes, may “choke” or “draw a blank” as a result of reflecting on their own actions. What throws off the performers is not the mere fact of attending to their own actions, since they may be trained at dividing their attention—e.g. to keep track of multiple happenings in the field. Moreover, concentrating on the details of one’s movements enhances rather than impedes performance, in many situations. If the drop in performance has anything to do with attention, it is caused not by attention per se, but by attention recruited for the specific task of reflection or “detachment” from one’s own acts.

124  The Implicit/Explicit Strategy and lead us to act in its pursuit. And a thought may block us from accepting the conclusion of an argument by presenting the argument as problematic in a specific way. Under the control of these states, we ex­peri­ence ourselves as their subjects—acting and expressing ourselves from them. However, we can also step back and become aware of these states as objects to be controlled or managed, inclining us to responses that we could either allow or reject. When we step back from these states, our responses are no longer dictated by them. There is room for thinking, and we can deliberate about what to do. In distancing ourselves from these states, the properties they present us with may disappear from view: in being aware of our own anger, we may no longer experience the person’s actions as terrible; in being aware of our own desire, we may no longer experience the object as desirable; and, in being aware of our objection as such, we may no longer be aware of the argument as objectionable in the former way. The states no longer present us with the properties of things but are presented to us as properties of ourselves. The reason for this duality does not lie in the shift of attention (from external objects to internal states); although the elements of our perspective can occupy our attention, by contributing to our overall ex­peri­ence, they are not themselves objects of consciousness to which we can directly attend.23 Like the properties they present us with, they show up to us only in virtue of the activation of their signatures. The felt “opa­city” of these states is a consequence of this mode of representation. By activating the appropriate signatures, the very same confluence of feelings may be presented to us as something negative about a person’s behavior or as our own state of anger or irritation. The very same feeling (for example, of attraction) may appear to us as an appealing attribute of a thing or as our own desire for obtaining it. And the very same awareness that we have in response to an argument may be presented to us as something problematic about the argument or as our own thought about it. In the first case, the awareness activates the signature of an external condition; in the second, the signature of an internal state. Which type of property is presented to us is a function 23  For more on the distinction between the occupation of attention and being an object of attention, see Peacocke (“Conscious Attitudes, Attention, and Self-Knowledge,” 1998).

The encoding-difference account: Second pass  125 of the file—the larger “frame” or structure—to which the signature belongs. But, since each file provides a competing perspective on the same experience, the two cannot be activated simultaneously; a single quality could appear to us either as a property of a thing or as a property of ourselves but not as both. In registering the thought, we may find ourselves occupying either one of these two perspectives. From the internal perspective of the thought, we may be presented with a specific property of the argument; the signature of the thought in this case may consist in this awareness. If we step back, however, the thought may appear to us as a perfectly distinct point in the space of thoughts. From this “bird’s-eye” view, we may be able to draw qualitative comparisons between it and other thoughts and formulations. But the objects of the thought may seem “opaque.” The signature of the thought in this case may consist in our awareness of the thought’s “significance”—its relation to other thoughts and mental states. A formulation that activates the former type of signature, by presenting us with the same objects and properties as the thought, may afford us with an awareness of its relations, thereby granting us the latter signature. Conversely, a formulation that has the same “significance” as the thought may afford us with an awareness of the objects and properties that it represents, thereby providing us with a signature of the thought of the latter type. Together, the two sets of signatures combine into a single ability to track the thought, regardless of which perspective we happen to occupy with respect to it. In both cases, we come to know what we are thinking in virtue of a match between the awareness elicited by the thought and the awareness elicited by its formulation while also arriving at a “clearer” awareness of what we are thinking.24 The thought becomes “clear” not just in the phenomenological sense but also in the traditional sense that goes back to Leibniz, in which “a clear idea is defined as one 24  A description of the articulation process that fits well with this view is given by Wilhelm Wundt (An Introduction to Psychology, 1912: ch. IV Apperception, p. 137): “Let us call to mind the processes by means of which the beginning and end of an expression of thought are held together into one sentence or into several sentences jointed together by the same thought. We note at once that the general content in its whole feeling-quality is already present as soon as the first word is spoken . . . If the process continues without associative distractions and add­ itions, then we notice at the same time that that beginning feeling corresponds perfectly with the terminal feeling that accompanies the termination of the spoken thought.”

126  The Implicit/Explicit Strategy which is so apprehended that it will be recognized wherever it is met with, and so that no other will be mistaken for it” (Peirce, “How to Make our Ideas Clear,” 1878: 286).

Conclusion The thoughts in the puzzling cases are marked by two characteristics that distinguish them from our ordinary thoughts. Unlike our regular thoughts, they are hard to put into words; indeed, even identifying the right words can be a challenge. And, unlike our ordinary thoughts, they are hard to know. Articulating these thoughts is our way of discovering what they are. Bergson (The Two Sources of Morality and Religion, 1977: 34) traces the difference between the hard and easy cases to etiology: In the first [easy case] the mind cold-hammers the materials, combining ideas long since cast into words and which society supplies in a solid form. In the second [hard case], it would seem that the solid materials supplied by intelligence first melt and mix, then solidify again into fresh ideas now shaped by the creative mind itself. If these ideas find words already existing which can express them, for each of them this seems a piece of unexpected good luck; and, in truth, it has often been necessary to assist fortune, and strain the meaning of a word, to mould it to the thought. In that event the effort is painful and the result problematical. But it is in such a case only that the mind feels itself, or believes itself, to be creative.

However, the difference between the two kinds of cases cannot simply lie in the fact that the thoughts in the puzzling cases come from us. The thoughts that we form on the basis of reasoning and perception are often readily expressible. Even the thoughts that seem to come to us out of nowhere—for example, through free association—can be easy to express. So, not all thoughts that come from us are hard to articulate. But it takes special effort and skill to be able to articulate some thoughts that come from us. What accounts for this bifurcation? Why do some thoughts start out as “opaque” and hard to articulate while others are “transparent” and easy to articulate from the start?

Conclusion  127 Although Bergson is not univocal on this question, on a natural reading of the above passage, the difference lies in the fact that not just the thoughts but, more importantly, the general elements or ways of thinking that feature in the thoughts in the puzzling cases are “self-produced.” After immersing ourselves in a complex topic and digesting various facts and arguments pertaining to it, we may develop our own categories and classification schemes—our own ways of carving up information about the subject, which arise organically from our engagement with it. However, as Bergson acknowledges, even though in some cases we may lack words for such categories, in many cases, our vocabulary already contains words that fully capture them; for the most part, the ways of thinking that come naturally to us have also come to others who had thought hard about the same issues. So why is expressing them such a challenge when we rediscover them on our own? On the model I have been developing in this chapter, the categories come from us in that they issue from a spontaneous process that is geared toward selecting significant aspects of our experience and retaining them for future use. Just as gaining familiarity with a certain range of colors may lead us to notice additional aspects of our color ex­peri­ence, grappling with an abstract subject may lead us to notice commonalities that show up as aspects of the material at hand. Such common aspects may become integrated into files that may serve to represent objects or properties, types or tokens (depending on their role in the file). Once integrated into such files, the aspects could be thought of as “signatures” of the items they represent. The thoughts in the puzzling cases could consist in the combined activation of such signatures. Given their origin, the files in which the signatures belong may fail to include the corresponding public language words, making these thoughts hard to articulate. On the solution to the puzzle I have been advocating, we recognize the correct words by relying on our implicit knowledge of what we are thinking. Just as our implicit knowledge of a property may consist in its stored signature (the aspect of experience shared by its instances), so our implicit knowledge of our thoughts consists in certain invariances in our experience of them. In some cases, the signature of the thought may consist in our awareness of the objects and properties it presents us with. In others, the signature may consist in our awareness of the

128  The Implicit/Explicit Strategy thought’s “significance”—its relation to other thoughts and mental states. The triggering of the thought’s signature by a formulation yields both a judgment (to the effect that the formulation matches the thought) and an awareness of the thought as present. Notice that “implicit know­ledge,” on this use of the term, is not really knowledge, in the ordinary sense— that is, it is not knowledge-that, knowledge-how, or knowledge-of (though it might be closest to the third kind of knowledge). My solution to the puzzle thus squarely rejects [B]—the proposition that our recognition of the right words is based on some knowledge we have of our thought. This, however, still leaves open the question of what made this proposition plausible in the first place. The answer—already gestured at in Chapter 4—lies in the temptation to assimilate our activity in articulation to responsiveness to reasons, conceived of as (accessed or accessible) considerations that bear on what we do. The only reason we could have for rejecting or accepting a formulation may seem to come from some knowledge we have of our thought. The unavailability of such knowledge, and the inability to locate other reasons for our reactions, makes it puzzling how these reactions could so much as make sense from the first-person point of view. A deeper source of [B]’s appeal that emerges from this chapter’s discussion of our involvement in articulation lies in the conflation between two types of freedom (or control) that we may have over a response. On a minimal conception of freedom, any response that comes out victorious from the battle between the subject’s conflicting inclinations counts as free, as long as it is unimpeded by an external barrier; in the absence of resistance from the outside world, one acts freely in the service of any impulse that gains dominance, regardless of how one stands with respect to it. On a more natural and common understanding, however, freedom can also be impeded by factors internal to the subject’s psychology—a person acting in the grips of a powerful addiction may fail to be free, experiencing oneself to be a passive bystander to one’s compulsive behavior. On a more demanding conception of freedom motivated by such cases, an action is free just in case it issues from the subject’s “judgment” or appreciation of reasons; an addict fails to be free in acting against one’s better judgment or the reasons one takes oneself to have. On both conceptions, freedom consists in causation by the agent. But whereas, on the minimal conception, the agent is taken to be the whole

Conclusion  129 human organism or psyche, on the more demanding conception, the agent is just that part of the psyche whose activity is confined entirely to the “space of reasons.” One upshot of this chapter is that, in articulating our thoughts in the puzzling cases, we are not agents, in this sense. Nevertheless, our activity in articulation can still be free in more than just the minimal sense: we can be in control of the process without having to exert control. Whatever the nature of this form of agency, it is clear that the two types of freedom come into conflict, on some occasions. For example, one may successfully align one’s responses to reasons, but only at the price of suppressing many spontaneous inclinations that push the other way. In this case, one may act freely and experience oneself as active, in the sense of complying with the reasons one takes oneself to have. Yet, in having to act on oneself, one’s behavior may still involve a sacrifice of freedom, in the second sense. The two modes of engagement can be thought of as belonging to two distinct spheres of activity: a reflective sphere, on which we respond to reasons (the contents of thoughts), and an unreflective sphere, on which we respond directly to mental states, without recognizing them as reasons or being aware of them as such. In the next chapter, I will continue to explore the interaction between the two levels by looking at how we reason with unarticulated thoughts by placing them in a network of normative relations, prior to being able to access and actively deploy them in deliberation.

6 Reasoning with Unarticulated Thoughts In this chapter, I turn to explore a further important dimension of the articulation process: the kind of reasoning that we engage in when we articulate a thought. Although we can, in principle, articulate our thoughts without engaging in any reasoning, I will argue that articulation often involves a form of reasoning in which we pay heed to our immediate reactions to our thoughts. In Section  1, I start with some examples of this form of reasoning. In Section 2, I show that our immediate reactions to our unarticulated thoughts pass through a kind of “normative filter” or a rapid normative evaluation: we regard some of the attitudes that we have in response to our thoughts not merely as brute causal responses but as justified or appropriate responses to them. In the sections that follow, I turn to investigate how such a “normative filter” works. I argue that we do not regard the attitudes as appropriate by default (Section 3), through rapid self-assessment (Section 4), based on partial knowledge of what we are thinking (Section 5), or based on feelings elicited by our thoughts (Section 6). In Section 7, I extend the account of implicit knowledge from the previous chapter to suggest how we can establish normative relations between thoughts, in the absence of personal-level access to their contents.

1.  Reasoning in articulation: Illustrations In evaluating the adequacy of a formulation, we sometimes make judgments that do not spontaneously result from any sub-personal capacity and that are driven by reasons that go beyond mere feelings that such a capacity may turn out. In some cases, our reasons for rejecting a formulation come from its failure to accord with the rules of grammar or Articulating a Thought. Eli Alshanetsky, Oxford University Press (2019). © Eli Alshanetsky. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198785880.001.0001

Reasoning in articulation  131 meet general standards of literalness and exactness that apply to any formulation, no matter which particular thought we are trying to express. But, in many cases, our reasons concern specific respects in which the formulation deviates from our thought. The following scen­arios illustrate the sorts of reasons that may enter into our deliberation: • You spend a day at a café grappling with an abstruse text. You have a feeling that its author is trying to communicate some important insight, but none of the interpretations you come up with seems to cohere with what she says. On your walk home, you are seized by a powerful sense of where the author is coming from. An in­ter­pret­ ation comes to you that seems to fit well with what she is saying and that makes her view appear interesting and true. In excitement, you condense your interpretation into a murky slogan or a few disjointed phrases, knowing that your words fall far short of capturing your full thought. You urge yourself to remember it until you get home. Back at your desk, you try to unpack your thought. You prod­uce a formulation, but immediately judge that the view it expresses is false and unfaithful to the author’s text. So you reject this formulation and go on searching for one that is adequate to your thought. • After taking a break from mathematics for many years, you volunteer to teach calculus at a summer school. As you prepare your lesson plan, you stumble upon something that makes you question whether some parts of the solutions to the sample problems in the textbook are correct. You grope for the pen, to get the thought down on paper, while it darts through. But you find it difficult to articulate the realization that leads to your worries. You make a quick note, epitomizing what you have realized to yourself in a few words, and talk to your mathematician friend, who gives you her guess about what the source of your worries might be. But the thought she attributes to you does not lead you to question the same parts of the solutions that you were questioning. So you reject her formulation and try to articulate the thought that generated your worries in your own way. • Late at night working on your nearly completed paper, you come to  suspect that its conclusion might be untenable—too strong to

132  Reasoning with Unarticulated Thoughts be warranted by your premises. As you think hard to determine whether there is any truth to your suspicion, you are struck by an alarming thought that you do not manage to put to rest and that moves you to think that a central piece of your argument is seriously flawed. Although you have a hard time clutching the thought firmly, it sits uneasily with some of your claims, and makes you think that you left something crucial out of the account or overlooked an objection to your view. You take a moment to gather yourself, concentrate on the thought, and try to articulate it clearly. But none of your initial formulations leads you to think that there is anything wrong with your paper. You take it as a reason for rejecting these formulations and go on searching for a formulation that really captures your thought. All these examples involve “theoretical” thoughts from intellectual domains. But this is not essential to the examples. There are similar cases where the thoughts in question are not especially “theoretical.” One kind of case is where the thought elicits a moral response—for example, guilt, indignation, regret.1 Another is where the thought comes in reaction to a work of art and elicits an aesthetic judgment. For instance, after watching a movie, you might be uncertain of its quality. Although you can follow its basic plotline, you suspect that there is an additional layer of significance behind it that you are missing. Then suddenly, something clicks. You understand something—a deeper reality that the director saw and labored to convey using some mixture of 1  A somewhat fantastical example—inspired by a conversation with Stephen Schiffer—is this. On my way to a dinner party, I am struck by a realization that leads me to think that I should do more good deeds—e.g. volunteer more, give money to the homeless person on the subway, things like that. When I arrive, under the spell of this realization, I try to relate it to a friend. I say: “believe it or not, but I think I am finally starting to see what the Indian guru Meyer Baba was saying when he propounded that everything is one.” My friend retorts: “What on earth do you mean? You cannot possibly mean that everything is identical to ­everything!” I wrack my brain. “What was I thinking? Was there anything coherent on my mind at all?” After mulling over it for some time, I reply: “Look, we are all biological organisms, set on survival, and have to strain our energies to prevail against each other in an unkind world. But, along with our rivals and victims, each of us is also an integral part of this world, not at all detached from the others and as independent as he thinks. What I meant was that the normal bustle of life keeps us from noticing the pattern of interrelationships that link us to each other. Come to think of it, maybe that is not entirely right. But I do not see anything outright incoherent in this idea!”

Causal relations  133 devices—that makes you appreciate the movie more. But you find it difficult to articulate your new understanding. You know that you have just grasped something illuminating about the movie, but you cannot say precisely what it is. You turn to your film critic friend, who offers you his opinion. But what he tells you does not strike you as a reason for liking the movie more. So you reject his formulation and try to articulate your understanding in your own way. Such cases suggest that in being struck by the thought we are often cognizant of various attitudes (for example, other thoughts) that stand in certain relations to it: the thought may seem true or false, hopeful or alarming, frivolous or serious, may lead us to find value in certain things, worry about others, awake certain emotions or suspicions, make obscure-seeming things seem obvious or obvious-seeming things obscure, and so on. In articulating the thought, we may expect its formulation also to bear certain kinds of relations to these attitudes; finding that it does not may prompt us to reject the formulation and, in some cases, overturn our initial judgment (or defeat our initial feeling) of its appropriateness to our thought. What sorts of relations, then, do we expect to hold between the relevant attitudes and the ­formulations of our thoughts, and why is it that we expect the right formulations to enter into the expected sorts of relations to such attitudes?

2.  Causal relations On a simple construal of these relations, our reasoning about the ad­equacy of our formulation is restricted to comparing the actual attitudes that result from entertaining the formulation to the attitudes that we have in being struck by the thought. For example, when struck by the thought, we may have certain attitudes toward its content, and these attitudes may in turn cause us to have certain other attitudes. Our reason­ing would then consist in testing whether entertaining the formulation occasions the same types of attitudes toward what it says and whether these attitudes cause the other types of attitudes. On a more elaborate account, our reasoning may also involve a simulation in which

134  Reasoning with Unarticulated Thoughts we check whether entertaining the formulation, instead of having the thought, would have resulted in the same attitudes. But it would be a mistake to construe our reasoning as just another instance of “causal self-interpretation.”2 We can gain a better understanding of the nature of these relations by looking at the way in which our grounds for rejecting our formulations in the former scenarios could be defeated and how our rejections of these formulations could be overturned. These further scenarios illustrate how this could happen: • Having dismissed your initial formulation of your interpretation, you try some alternative formulations. At first, you produce ones that are very different from the formulation you first produced. But they either have flaws that seem absent from your thought (for example, they are implausible or inconsistent with some salient parts of the text) or just seem inappropriate to your thought for reasons you cannot explain. You try to correct the flaws and make your formulations seem more acceptable. But the more adjustments you make, the more your formulations start to resemble your initial formulation. Thinking back to why you rejected this formulation, you realize that your only reason for finding the view it expresses false is that your college professor, who is known for his dogmatic opinions, repeatedly said it was. And you realize that you found the view inconsistent with the text only because you mistakenly took some of the author’s words to have the meaning they have in your formulation. Once you see past your prejudice and understand the author’s words in their context, your formulation seems to express a plausible view that fits with the text. You realize that it captures your interpretation. • After turning down your friend’s suggestion as to what made you worry about your lesson material, you browse through various textbooks, trying to find something that may help you pin down your thought. You suspect that there is something deep and complex behind your worries and start by looking at advanced texts, searching for clues about what it is. You spend a long time searching 2  For more on the structure of “causal self-interpretation” and its role in self-knowledge of belief, see Krista Lawlor (“Knowing Beliefs, Seeking Causes,” 2008).

Causal relations  135 these books but find no basis in them for questioning the relevant parts of the solutions. Finally, close to giving up, you open an introductory high-school text. In it, you find a passage that warns against a common misunderstanding of one of the definitions: the thought attributed to you by your friend. Pausing to reflect on this misunderstanding, you realize that its truth would invalidate all the same parts of the solutions that you have been questioning. Failing to see this while talking to your friend was your only reason for turning down her suggestion. In embarrassment, you realize that there was nothing complicated or deep behind your worries, and that this common misunderstanding is all there is to your thought. • Struggling to articulate your alarming thought about your paper, you go through many formulations, but none of them seems to reveal any problems associated with your view. Concluding that your worries were just the products of anxiety or paranoia, you eventually forget all about your thought, and go on to present the paper at a conference. At the questions period, a member of the audience raises a point that is virtually the same as the one expressed by one of your early formulations. Your first impulse is to explain why her point is not damaging to your view. But, before you open your mouth to speak, you realize that what she said does expose a major gap in your argument. The woman begins to draw out the consequences of her point, but you do not need to listen further: you know exactly how the rest of the explanation goes. You are angry with yourself, realizing that, in your wishful thinking, you must have overlooked the consequences of your early formulation. You recognize that it captured your alarming thought. In all these scenarios, our grounds for rejecting our formulations are defeated and our rejections are overturned when the attitudes we had in response to our thoughts turn out to be appropriate to our formulations. The fact that the grounds for our rejections could be defeated in these ways shows that the relations we expect to hold between the correct formulation and the relevant attitudes are “normative” rather than merely causal. The attitudes that we form (or are inclined to form) when we are

136  Reasoning with Unarticulated Thoughts struck by our thoughts pass through a kind of normative filter, or a rapid normative evaluation. We regard some of these attitudes not merely as brute causal responses to our thoughts but as justified or appropriate responses.3 Finding the interpretation to be consistent with the text and taking the view that it expresses to be true are justified responses to considering the interpretation; questioning the correctness of the solutions is justified if we are subject to the common, calculus misunderstanding; thinking that there are problems with our view is justified or supported by the truth of the alarming thought. In assessing a formulation, we check whether what it says makes it appropriate for us to form the same attitudes as the attitudes that we endorsed in response to our thought: whether finding what it says to be consistent with the text is a justified response to considering the formulation, whether questioning the correctness of the solutions is justified if we believe what it says, and so forth. We reject a formulation when we conclude that what it says cannot replace the content of our thought in a network of such justificatory relations. The proponent of the implicit/explicit strategy should be able to explain how we arrive at such attitudes and, more importantly, how we figure out, prior to articulating our thoughts, that such attitudes are appropriate in response to them. We cannot come to endorse these attitudes by drawing on our complete (explicit) knowledge of what we are thinking, which is unavailable to us at this stage. And so, there should be some other explanation for why we expect the formulations of our thoughts to mesh with them.4

3  In a similar way, we take certain mathematical inferences to accord with our understanding, without being able to articulate the understanding from which they derive. According to Frege (“Logic in Mathematics,” in Posthumous Writings, 1991: 222): “We simply do not have the mental capacity to hold before our minds a very complex logical structure so that it is equally clear to us in every detail. What man, when he uses the word ‘integral’ in a proof, ever has clearly before him everything which appertains to the sense of this word! And yet we can still draw correct inferences, even though in doing so there is always a part of the sense in penumbra.” 4  Recall that the problem was not just that, at the outset, we lack access to “higher-order” information about our thought—e.g. to the fact that the thought that p is occurring. We may be able to determine that some attitudes (e.g. beliefs) are appropriate to our thoughts, in the normal course of reasoning, without relying on such information. The problem was, rather, that we also lack full access to the information carried by the thought, which we access by articulating it.

Default appropriateness  137

3.  Default appropriateness One might object that our taking the attitudes to be appropriate does not entail that we put them through any kind of normative evaluation. For we may regard them as such for no specific reason, or by default. There are two ways in which one may try to develop this account. On the first, we automatically regard every attitude that we are spontaneously moved to form by our thoughts as appropriate to them. We may, of course, subsequently find reasons to regard the attitudes as in­appro­pri­ate, or as insufficiently supported. But, in the absence of such specific reasons, our endorsements of the attitudes tend to stick. However, on such an account, our endorsement of the attitudes would just be another causal and unreflective response. Finding ourselves to have such an ungrounded response to our thought may give us a reason to expect that, when we come upon its formulation, we would feel inclined, or have an impulse, to take these attitudes to be appropriate to what it says. But the mere fact that we respond this way to our thought gives us no reason to expect these attitudes to be appropriate to its formulation. On the second way of developing the account, our basis for this expectation comes from a general presumption that, in the absence of specific, positive reasons for doubt, we should regard our spontaneous responses as correct. Notice that such a presumption cannot simply take the form of an a priori entitlement—a principle or an argument to the effect that these responses are justified, which may be available only to the theorist. Rather, to account for why we privilege the attitude, the presumption must somehow enter our point of view: given our presumptive trust in our spontaneous reactions, when a thought immediately moves us to certain attitudes, we expect these attitudes to be justified in response to its formulation. However, even if our expectations are partly driven by such presumptive trust, there are at least three reasons to think that they must also be grounded in something else. First, in the absence of any positive reason to think that the attitudes are appropriate to our thoughts, we should very easily be persuaded to stop regarding them as such. But we may keep regarding the attitudes as appropriate to our thoughts even in the face of strong evidence that these attitudes are inappropriate. For ex­ample, someone may offer us a compelling reason for thinking that the text is

138  Reasoning with Unarticulated Thoughts incoherent; that the calculus solutions are obviously correct; that the argument in our paper is impeccable, and so on. Such considerations may convince us that the attitudes we were moved to form are false and unjustified (all things considered). And this may, in turn, make us suspect that the thought that moved us to them is itself unjustified and false. Nevertheless, in many cases, such considerations would not displace our initial conviction that, if we have any definite thought to express, then the thought vindicates the attitudes in some way. Second, when we become convinced that the attitudes we were inclined to form are false and inappropriate, we often still want to get clear on what led us to them. In articulating our thoughts in these cases, we still reject formulations that do not support the attitudes in any way. In such cases, we may still reject formulations that do not stand in the relevant relations to the attitudes; we may keep regarding the attitudes as appropriate to our thoughts even in the face of evidence that they are inappropriate simpliciter. But, if our only reason for endorsing the attitudes comes from a general trust in our spontaneous reactions, any reason for thinking that the attitudes are inappropriate simpliciter would also be a reason for thinking that they are inappropriate to our thought. Finally, if our only reason for thinking that the attitudes are appropriate to our thoughts is the fact that we spontaneously have them, it is unclear why we would put any effort in carefully checking that they are appropriate to our formulations. The fact that a formulation does not spontaneously incline us to these attitudes should be reason enough to reject it already. In sum, there seems to be some special, positive reason why we regard the attitudes as appropriate to our thoughts. The challenge is to uncover what that reason is.

4.  Rapid self-assessment One might argue that the “normative filter” that we apply to the attitudes consists in nothing more than a rapid self-assessment. For ex­ample, we may know that our “intuitive” statistical judgments often result from fallacious heuristics, or that we are bad at estimating risk under stress.

Rapid self-assessment  139 We may then train ourselves to withhold such judgments, until we step back and thoroughly reflect on our evidence. On the other hand, we may know that we are reliable at making snap inferences about certain subjects, or under certain conditions, and have a policy of trusting such inferences, without engaging in any further deliberation. Our reason for expecting the formulations of our thoughts to support the attitudes may thus come from some property of the context in which we had the thought, or of the topic of the attitudes that we were moved to form in response to it. However, the thought may incline us to various attitudes not only when it first strikes but also in the course of articulation. While we articulate it, the thought serves as a continual source of attitudes, either toward the candidate formulations that we produce or toward other things. For example, in articulating our interpretation, we may produce a formulation that, for a moment, seems adequate to our thought. Then, as we recall our thought, the view our formulation attributes to the author may seem to be too crude or to distort what we take to be most interesting about her text. In articulating the source of our worries about the solutions, we may come across an example that bears some analogy to them, and take it to commit the same mistake as the one we thought we detected in the solutions. But, returning to our thought, we may change our mind and conclude that we were misled by the resemblance, and that the example does not suffer from the mistake we were thinking of after all. In getting clear on the problem with our paper, we may temporarily lose track of our thought and try to rediscover the problem by ordinary reasoning. Finding a problem, we may be relieved to see that it is easy to fix. But, going back to our thought, the problem we found may suddenly strike us as trifling, or as a mere symptom of the more serious problem that we have not yet managed to express. The only salient, common property of the contexts in which we have these attitudes is that we have them in the presence of our thought. And the only salient, common property of their topics is that each of them concerns the thought, in some way. Our reason for expecting the correct formulations to justify these attitudes does not appear be any property of their topics or of the contexts we had them in but seems to have something to do with their specific relations to our thought.

140  Reasoning with Unarticulated Thoughts

5.  Partial knowledge A straightforward alternative explanation is that we come to endorse the attitudes by drawing on our partial knowledge of our thoughts. We can sometimes tell that certain attitudes are appropriate to our thoughts, without knowing our thoughts’ full content, based on our knowledge of just the parts or properties of our thoughts that make the attitudes appropriate.5 For example, we may know that a certain belief is a justified response to our thought simply by knowing that our thought is a conjunction, and that the belief expresses one of its conjuncts; we may know that our thought makes it appropriate to think that we are mad at someone just by knowing that it represents the person as the jerk who cut us off in traffic. We may thus establish the appropriateness of the attitudes in some of the hard cases of articulation in the same way that we establish the appropriateness of the attitudes in such cases. It is, however, implausible that we establish the appropriateness of  the attitudes in every hard case of articulation in this way. The implausibility of the partial-knowledge explanation becomes apparent once we look at the relation between the parts of our thoughts that make the attitudes appropriate and what we may come to discover about our thoughts, in the former scenarios. Given the view our interpretation attributes to the author, we may be justified in taking the interpretation to be true and consistent with what she says. But the view may become clear to us only once we articulate our thought; indeed, considering our initial bias and confusion over the use of the author’s words, if we started out knowing what view our interpretation attributes to her, we probably would have taken the opposite responses to be appropriate to the interpretation. The common calculus misunderstanding might be a belief that a formula in one of the definitions does not apply to some specific type of case. Since this restriction invalidates some parts of the solutions, our thought justifies us in thinking they are incorrect. But we may be unaware that our thought concerns the formula, or any such restriction, until we read the 5  I assume that the norms that control our thinking set certain conditions on our thoughts, whose satisfaction suffices for the appropriateness of certain attitudes. The properties of our thoughts that make the attitudes appropriate are the properties in virtue of which our thoughts satisfy such conditions.

Feelings  141 warning in the high-school text. The alarming thought about your paper might be a judgment affirming the possibility of cases with a certain abstract structure. Since cases with this structure constitute a coun­ter­exam­ple to our view, our thought justifies us in thinking that our paper has problems. But we may not realize that we were thinking of such cases, or that our thought involves a counterexample (rather than some other flaw), until the audience member raises her point. In all these scenarios, the parts of our thoughts that make the relevant attitudes appropriate are the very parts that we discover upon completing the articulation. So we cannot draw on our knowledge of these parts of our thoughts, at the time of their occurrence, to establish these attitudes’ appropriateness to them.

6. Feelings Instead of appealing to our partial knowledge of the thought, one might deny that arriving at these attitudes requires going through any process of reasoning from the thought’s content. In forming our judgments, we often allow ourselves to be guided by feelings. In most cases, we are un­aware of the origins of these feelings. But, occasionally, we recognize them as responses to certain situational facts, to which we bear some psychological relation. Certain nuances of a stranger’s glance, gestures, and tone may make us suddenly realize that we should not trust him; something about a restaurant’s appearance may suggest that the food is likely to be good; some of the key phrases of a dubious hypothesis or a telemarketer’s vacation deal may stand out as “red lights” and lead us to dismiss it as improbable or a scam. Whatever the correct account of these cases turns out to be, they have much in common with the former scenarios. In both types of cases, we respond to the contents of informational states: thoughts in one case, perceptions in the other. And, in both cases, we are aware of ourselves as responding to something, without knowing what that something is. Like the contents of our thoughts in the former scenarios, the situational facts that prompt such judgments are often hard to put into words. Describing them may take skill and reflection; and the description may enhance our self-knowledge.

142  Reasoning with Unarticulated Thoughts However, such cases could give us only the structure of the ex­plan­ation of how we come to endorse the attitudes in the former scenarios. In justifying our judgments to other people, while trying to be mindful of shared standards of appropriateness or justification, we may appeal to the reliability of our hunches, to our familiarity with similar situations, to our expertise in the relevant areas, or to some other considerations altogether. We do not generally believe that our feelings (for example, repulsions, attractions, omens, premonitions, good/bad vibes, and so on) would carry any “objective validity,” or that the very same states that prompt such feelings would also contribute to supporting the judgments founded on them. Only in the case of some types of feelings or impressions do we expect our descriptions of the states that prompt them to contribute to such public justification. Now, one might argue that, whenever we have a feeling of the kind that informs us of the public (for example, moral, epistemic, prudential) justifiability of our attitudes, the inclination invariably consists in a simple feeling of appropriateness (or “ought”). When we have this feeling, we have ground to expect the states that prompt it to be normatively linked to the elicited states. It is this very special normative feeling that informs us of the justificatory relations between the thoughts and attitudes in the former scenarios.6 But, even if such a feeling is implicated in the process by which we arrive at the attitudes, its role in the explanation cannot be that of providing us with reasons for the attitudes. If a feeling serves as a reason for our response, we should know, or at least be in a position to know, that we have the feeling. Moreover, our confidence in having the feeling should be at least as strong as our confidence in the appropriateness of our response. But, clearly, our confidence in the appropriateness of the relevant attitudes is far greater than our confidence in having the special normative feeling. And many reflective people lack the concept of such a feeling at all. Indeed, our very uncertainty in identifying the feeling casts doubt on whether we have it in the first place. If a simple feeling informed our response, one would have expected our confidence in having it to be greater. Moreover, given the purported 6  Hannah Ginsborg (“Primitive Normativity and Skepticism about Rules,” 2011) appeals to such a normative feeling in the account of normative guidance she advocates.

Implicit knowledge  143 ubiquity and practical significance of this feeling, along with the facility of writers across generations, one would have expected that by now we should have succeeded in pointing to it, in language, and had assigned it an easily recognizable name. Our trouble in identifying and naming the feeling suggests that what informs us is not really a simple feeling but a more variegated state of awareness, whose realization could vary from person to person and case to case.7

7.  Implicit knowledge On the model of recognition developed in Chapter 5, feelings may play a part in the explanation of why we move to the attitudes and regard them as appropriate. However, rather than providing us with reasons for the attitudes, the feelings may serve as signatures of the factors that make the attitudes appropriate to our thoughts. In some cases, such factors may be the operations of various processes or capacities, with whose workings we are acquainted.8 For example, we may form some of the above immediate judgments (in response to the subtle features of our situation) by relying on associative memory: the situational features that prompt our judgments may evoke numerous past occasions where the features were present and the corresponding judgments were called for. Certain aspects of the phenomenology of such impressions (for example, the particular manner in which the past occasions permeate and shape our present experience) may serve as signatures of the associative process that generates our impression. The activation of such signatures may at once give rise to a  judgment, to the effect that the process is instantiated, and to an 7  Rather than appealing to a simple normative feeling, one might appeal to a more complex metacognitive feeling of the kind investigated by Joëlle Proust (The Philosophy of Metacognition, 2013), Jerome Dokic (“Seeds of Self-Knowledge,” 2012), and others. The account I sketch here is congenial to this proposal and could be seen as clarifying the role of such feelings in personal-level explanation. 8  According to Wolfgang Köhler (Dynamics in Psychology, 1940: 3), our intuitive familiarity with our psychological capacities is the reason why psychologists cannot make truly shocking or counterintuitive discoveries: “man was acquainted with practically all territories of mental life a long time before the founding of scientific psychology . . . psychologists could not make such startling discoveries as constitute the pride of physics, because at the very beginning of their work there were no entirely unknown mental facts left which they could have discovered.”

144  Reasoning with Unarticulated Thoughts awareness of association at play. The activation of the file to which the signatures belong may give us a reason to expect our description of the features to help us justify our judgment on inductive grounds: by adverting to the other occasions where the features were present and where the judgment was called for. However, the justificatory relations that we expect to hold between the formulations of our thoughts and the attitudes in the puzzling cases are generally not inductive. The thoughts in the puzzling cases often strike us as insights or realizations where something entirely new and unfamiliar—something we never yet considered or reacted to—suddenly comes to mind. Indeed, the psychological novelty of such thoughts (the fact that, apart from their identity as thoughts, they may share nothing essential with our other thoughts) may help explain why they are so difficult to articulate. We may neither believe nor have any reason for believing that any kind of inductive justification is forthcoming, yet still regard the attitudes as appropriate to our thought and expect the formulation of our thought to bear some justificatory relations to them. There would thus have to be some other kinds of processes or capacities that would generate the attitudes in these cases, and some other kinds of marks that would inform us of the normative relations between the attitudes and our thought. On an alternative interpretation of what happens with the above immediate judgments, what leads us to distrust the stranger on the street may not be the negative associations he evokes but a certain quality that we take him to exemplify. The nuances of the stranger’s glance, gestures, and tone may activate our signature of a property of sketchiness, which we attribute to him. Although what activates the signature is our perception of the nuances, its activation, through the processing of such nuances, gives rise to a thought to the effect that the stranger possesses this quality. The activation of the file that encodes this quality may inform us that the stranger is likely to mislead us and that we should limit our interaction with him. The attribution of the quality to the stranger can be represented as in Figure 6.1. In responding to the stranger in these ways, we need not be in a pos­ ition to tell which features of his demeanor are responsible for our impression; the features may be so “low level” that a description of them may prove impossible. Nor do we need to have a word for the property that we attribute to him, or explicitly know that we think he exhibits it.

Conclusion  145 Limit interaction Untrustworthy character

Explicit component

Dubious motivations Likely to mislead …


Glance Gestures Tone Recognition


Figure 6.1.  A model of immediate recognition

Our attribution of sketchiness to the stranger could thus be a prime example of the kinds of thoughts we have in the puzzling cases. The process by which we arrive at the attribution also gives rise to a distinctive awareness of the property—we may experience the stranger as sketchy. Such an awareness may serve as the signature of our thought about him and act as an input to higher-level processes of recognition. Many of the attitudes that we have and take to be appropriate to our thoughts may result from such higher-level recognitional processes. Just as a person may strike us as sketchy, a thought may appear plausible or implausible, consistent with some claims and inconsistent with others. The signatures of the properties that characterize our thoughts in the puzzling cases may be complex and evolve over time. But their activation by a thought may give rise to both a judgment and a distinctive awareness of the relevant property as present.

Conclusion One might take the upshot of the discussion in this chapter to be that we  can reason with unarticulated thoughts, by establishing normative

146  Reasoning with Unarticulated Thoughts relations between them, prior to gaining the ability to access and deploy them as reasons in deliberation. However, on a common and venerable conception of reasoning, our way at arriving at the attitudes in the former scenarios clearly does not qualify as such. Reasoning, on this conception, is a matter of drawing a conclusion from a set of premises by applying inference rules to them. On pain of regress, the process of applying such rules cannot require us to engage in any further reason­ing. But it is hard to see how this could be so if making an inference itself consists in drawing on our explicit knowledge of the rule that we are following.9 Whether or not the normative filter that we apply to the attitudes counts as reasoning, the model of implicit knowledge developed in the previous chapter can provide us with the resources to explain how the regress can be avoided. On this model, our implicit knowledge of a rule may consist in its stored signature. Just as the signature of a color consists in the aspect of our experience that instances of the color share, the signature of an inference rule can consist in the invariant aspects of our experience shared by arguments that conform to it. In both the color and the inference case, our experience is progressively “pruned” and tested, until an aspect that matches the signature is found. In effect, the stored signature serves as a standard for the organization of experience—a command for the process of abstraction to stop. Just as the activation of the signature of a color presents us with a property that surpasses a mere subjective aspect, the activation of the signature of the rule gives rise to a presentation of a rule—not just an experiential regularity. Given the nature of the process of application, we become aware of the rule in the act of applying it. This account can be extended to other domains where it seems likely that we are guided by, and try to make explicit, our implicit knowledge—for example, of rules of grammar, semantic rules of language, and other rules. Elaborating such an account and explaining why this is so are tasks for another occasion.

9 The regress problem has been systematically laid out by Paul Boghossian (“Epistemic Rules,” 2008) and goes back to Lewis Carroll (“What the Tortoise Said to Achilles,” 1895). For a contemporary development of a conception of reasoning as the application of inference rules, see John Broome (Rationality through Reasoning, 2013).

7 Conclusion Our difficulties in articulating thoughts do not merely affect us with thoughts that we have never articulated before, or ones that occur to us for the first time. In many situations (for example, while teaching, during job interviews, or tests), it might take some time and effort to convey what we know about a topic, or to relay the corresponding belief from head to page. The beliefs that we scramble to express in such situations could be the ones that we have thought up with the most care. In practice, it would be uncooperative (and mean-spirited) for the person hearing us to regard our scrambling as a sign that we lack knowledge and are simply making up things as we go along. Rather, in many situations, we just need to spend some time jolting our memories, so as to return to our former state of knowledge. Going through such a process can be more or less difficult depending on our mental context: the overall frame of mind that we are in. In his essay on the formation of thoughts and the dehumanizing effects of public examinations, Kleist (“On the Gradual Construction of Thoughts during Speech,” 1951: 45) reaches a similar conclusion: How necessary a certain mental stimulus really is, if only to reproduce concepts which have already occurred to us, can often be seen when persons with open and educated minds are examined and are suddenly confronted with such unexpected questions as these: what is the State? or what is property? or something of the kind. If these young people had just come from a party in which the State or property had been discussed for some time, perhaps they would easily have found the definition by the comparison, abstraction and recapitulation of ideas. But here, where this preparation of the mind is wholly absent, they are seen to falter, and only an examiner lacking in understanding

Articulating a Thought. Eli Alshanetsky, Oxford University Press (2019). © Eli Alshanetsky. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198785880.001.0001

148 Conclusion would conclude that they do not know anything. For it is not we who know, but at first it is only a certain state of mind of ours that knows.

Kleist’s mention of the comparisons, contrasts, and summaries that may be needed to come up with the answers and definitions suggests that “recreating” or getting back to our former state of knowledge is an active process. We do not just passively sit and wait, hoping for the requisite knowledge to return. On one type of suggestion, “recreating” our former state of know­ ledge consists in figuring out what to think about the question topic, by applying the same kinds of rational procedures as the ones that we used in arriving at our original answer or belief. Given the familiarity that we have acquired with the question topic (for example, while preparing for the test), doing this might be easier and more efficient than it was during the initial round. But, although trying to figure out what to think about the question topic might betray our inclination to believe that a certain answer is correct, it seems clear that doing so would just yield a new answer or belief, which may or may not match the belief we previously formed. Rather than returning us to our previous state of knowledge, carrying out such a process would, in effect, amount to putting behind our former know­ ledge, or what we have previously figured out, and tackling the topic anew. Moreover, our present epistemic setting may differ from the one in which we have arrived at our former belief; old evidence may be forgotten, new evidence may come in. Applying the same belief-forming procedures in our present context need not have the effect of applying them in the past. Indeed, even if we had a way of impeccably reapplying precisely the same rational methods as the ones that we followed in arriving at our initial belief, the resulting belief may still not share the content of the previous one. To be sure, once we bring back to mind our former belief, we could always decide to reopen the question of what to think about the topic. We could try to answer the question again from first principles, or by weighing out our present evidence, to see if our answer matches the answer we formerly gave. In some cases, in which we want to scrutinize our beliefs, reopening the question and reanswering it would, in fact, be the favorable way to go. But, on a job interview or a test, this would

Conclusion  149 usually be a lousy idea: for the task at hand, it would be more efficient to regard the question as closed and simply recall what we have already figured out.1 The effortful memory retrieval that we perform in such cases bears several conspicuous parallels to what we do in the difficult cases of ar­ticu­la­tion. When I first tackle a question on a test, I may have a moment of sudden vision—a surge of confidence—in which I register both my ability to produce the answer, by drawing on my knowledge of it, and the rough form that the answer would take. But the moment I force myself into writing it, I may find myself blocked, unable to recall it. Just like the contents of our thoughts in the puzzling cases, the content of my knowledge at this instant may seem sealed off or inaccessible. In recalling the answer, I may try to get myself in the “zone” by thinking of certain things, which may strike me as pertinent to the question topic. I may produce certain words and sentences, with the hope that they would rouse the process of recollection into motion. If the test is mul­tiple choice, I may find it hard to identify the answer, among the alternatives, before I successfully draw it out. Indeed, even my own (shorthand) notes may bear no traces of the idea that I prepared them to remind me of. In some cases, the full answer may come out in a continuous flood of memories; in others, the retrieval process may be strenuous, and the answer may come out slowly, in a discontinuous thread. I may say to myself “hydrogen . . .” and get the feeling, as if from nowhere, that at this instant all I need to carry on is to recall some specific configuration in which the element occurs. A host of words and schematic images may come forth until I become absorbed in their elaboration and feel that I am doing everything myself. At some point, I may balk and lose the memory strand. I may wonder whether I genuinely know (or remember) the answer and consider giving up on the question and skipping to the next. However, despite any difficulties that I may face in recalling it,

1  On a more radical position, all our belief-reports require the application of such beliefforming procedures. But it is hard to see why anyone would be tempted by this position. I have a belief that represents the theory of evolution. Determining whether the theory is true consists in thinking hard about adaptationism, spandrels, peppered moths, etc. Determining whether I believe the theory seems to require nothing more than effortless recollection.

150 Conclusion once I bring the answer to mind, I may feel certain that it is identical to the answer that I gave while studying for the test. The type of recollection that we perform in such cases need not comprise any element of reasoning or inference. To be sure, memory is dynamic, and it can be hard to tell, with confidence, whether we have genuinely recalled something or just seamlessly inferred it from other things—for example, as often happens when we embellish our childhood recollections. And there are many situations in which we engage in a kind of hybrid of recollection and reconstruction: we recall certain fragments of an event and fill out the rest with inferences. In such cases, memory not only encodes but processes the encoded information.2 But, in recalling an objection that I have advanced in an old paper—for example, while being cornered by a bellicose philosopher at a party, I am not concerned with retrieving certain parts of it and then putting them together into a coherent shape. I have no interest in doing new philosophy, or in assembling some objection, out of the vestiges of my old objection, with the expectation that the two would coincide. All I want is to bring back to mind my original objection, which may take me a bit of scrambling and effort. This memory process gives rise to a version of the Meno puzzle that we have been grappling with throughout the book. For it seems that the whole point of engaging in it is to access the original objection—to bring it to mind. But how can we tell that our words express the objection if we do not already have the objection in mind? Without the ability to tell this, the words would be no different from any others that float in consciousness and would hardly help realize the process of recollection. The puzzle shares the form of the puzzles in the case of thought and perception: Sticking to what we see.  In conceptualizing a perceptual experience (for example, by applying color concepts to it), we need to take care not to impute to the experience something that is not strictly there. But we only gain access to the content of the experience by applying concepts to it. So, how can we make sure that our classifications are appropriate to the experience? 2  A seminal discussion of the reconstructive function of memory is Bartlett (Remembering, 1932).

Conclusion  151 Sticking to our thought.  In articulating a thought, we make sure to adhere to the thought, and not to get diverted by extraneous reasoning, other thoughts, and so on. But how can we make sure that our words are appropriate to the thought, given that we gain access to the thought only by articulating it? Sticking to memory.  In recalling an event or a piece of information— for example, by converting it into a narrative or an argument form, we need to make sure that we are true to our memory. Indeed, the very form that we convert the memory to may lend itself to many tempting deviations—we may be tempted to embellish it or to fill out gaps with bits of reasoning, and so on. But how can we guard against this without already having access to the item we are trying to recall? In each of these cases, there is some fact (for example, about the past or about our own mind) that we try to access by means of a representation. But, since a representation of the kind in question is our only means of accessing the fact, we seem to lack any way of checking the correctness of the representation. A general version of the puzzle can be put as follows: Sticking to the facts.  In managing our beliefs, we want to make sure that our beliefs line up with the facts; ideally, the most useful, fundamental, or illuminating facts, not just any facts. But we cannot, it seems, directly access the facts to compare our beliefs with them. Our access to the facts is always mediated by our beliefs. So how can we make sure that our beliefs line up with the facts? One might be tempted to answer that the best we can do is follow our evidence. But “evidence” could mean either another belief or some further fact that we would have to calibrate our beliefs to. Either way, the question of how we calibrate our beliefs to facts—whether external facts or facts about our beliefs—rearises. On the picture suggested by the book, there are foundational facts that we can know to obtain, without drawing on any other facts or considerations. The fact that I think or believe that p is one such fact. The claim is not that I (question-beggingly) infer that I believe that p from the premise that I believe that p; it is that facts about my first-order mental states can provide immediate or non-inferential justification for

152 Conclusion my introspective beliefs. Suppose that I set out to find out what I believe. How can I make sure that my belief is controlled by the relevant facts? After all, in the process, I cannot draw on the fact that I believe that p. Nor can I draw on any other facts (since we are supposing that the knowledge is foundational). What distinguishes my introspective judgment about my belief from a mere stab in the dark? Treating such facts as foundational may appear odd, for one might argue that there is a crucial epistemic difference between facts about propositional attitudes and facts about our sensations—between coming to know that I am in pain and coming to know that I believe that p. Being in pain is, after all, a phenomenally conscious state, whereas believing that p is not. There is something it is like to be in pain, but there need not be anything that it is like to believe a proposition. Consciousness is where we reach bedrock. We know that we are in pain because we are conscious of it. It is, however, hard to see what relevance the fact of consciousness has for answering the epistemic question. For, if my consciousness of pain just is the fact that I am in pain, then this just restates the original problem: how can I know that I am in pain, without drawing on any other knowledge? If, on the other hand, my consciousness of pain is some further fact (for example, an inner perception of the fact that I am in pain) then, contrary to our supposition, the fact that I am in pain is not foundational after all. To know it, I must draw on this further fact. And the same question rearises: how can I make sure that my beliefs are controlled by such further facts about consciousness? Either way, it is unclear how invoking consciousness helps. To be sure, phenomenal consciousness does make a difference of some sort. You know the pain, in the sense that you are “acquainted” with that sensation. But that is just to say that you experience the pain. And experiencing the pain cannot be the same as knowing that you are in pain. At the very least, you must subsume the sensation under a general property that reflects it. To recognize it as pain, you must have some grasp of this property and realize that it is instantiated by the sensation you have. On the model of recognition proposed in this book, our grasp of the property consists in our possession of its signature—the aspect of experience shared by its instances. The particular pain sensation that we

Conclusion  153 are having is bound to differ from other pains in many respects (for example, it may be more or less sharp or intense, burning or throbbing, and so on). Nevertheless, it may share with them a common painful quality. Once stored, such quality could act as a standard for the recognition process. In having a specific sensation, our experience of it is selectively “pruned” or abstracted until a match with the stored quality is found. This match, or the activation of the pain’s signature, constitutes an awareness of the sensation as instantiating the general property (an awareness of the pain as pain) and a classification of the pain as such. Such judgments are by no means restricted to facts about sensations. We saw that the signature of a color property (construed as more than just a subjective quality) could consist in the aspect of color experience that instances of the color share; the signature of an animal (for example, a zebra) could consist in the animal’s characteristic appearance (for example, a distinctive striped look). Like the signatures of phenomenal properties, such signatures can serve as standards for the structuring of experience. And, like the activation of the former signatures, their activation can present us with general properties that go beyond specific sensations. Such properties need not be confined to experiential kinds. The signatures are embedded in larger files, and the kind of item that is presented to us (for example, a phenomenal or an “objective” property, a nominal or a natural kind, a type or a token, and so on) depends on the type of file to which they belong. The files can be thought of as concepts— viewed as representational vehicles rather than as abstract objects. Some files are equipped with signatures; others are not. But only the ones that are can be directly applied to experience. By engaging with more abstract subjects, we may also acquire the signatures of properties of a more global kind. A “micro-valence,” or a subtle emotion, associated with a policy proposal may serve as a signature of a certain type of injustice; the feeling we have in response to an argument, or our awareness of some element of its structure, may serve as a signature of a specific problem with it. I have argued that many of the thoughts in the puzzling cases we have been exploring involve the application of concepts by means of signatures of this sort. Since the concepts may be psychologically novel and emerge from the spontaneous organization of our experience (rather than from directed learning), they may not be coordinated with public language words, making the thoughts

154 Conclusion hard to articulate. Producing a formulation that captures our thought not only provides us with knowledge of what we are thinking but allows us instantly to reidentify the thought, whenever it recurs, without having to draw on any further knowledge. Our ability to track the thought by relying on its signature may persist, even when our explicit know­ledge of the thought is gone. And, just as we can recognize the correct formulation of our thought by relying on our implicit knowledge of it, we can recognize this thought in the process of recollection through the activation of its stored signature. Looking at the two processes together allows us to see how implicit knowledge becomes explicit, switches back to implicit knowledge, and becomes explicit again.

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Index For the benefit of digital users, indexed terms that span two pages (e.g., 52–53) may, on occasion, appear on only one of those pages. Abstraction  113–14, 122, 127, 146, 152–3 Accessibility  16, 54, 63, 69–70, 81, 103–4, 110–11, 149 Acquaintance  7–8, 143–4, 152 Action Arational 104–5 Compulsive versus Free  128–9 Humean Conception of  104n.8 Disrupted by Attention  123n.22 Passionate versus Expressive  105–6 Activity versus Passivity  14–15, 25, 61–2, 64, 70–1, 97, 128–9, 148 Affect, see Emotion Agency  107n.11, 128–9 Analysis, see Concepts Aristotle 67–8 Artistic Expression  121–3 Association  16, 100, 106, 110n.14, 126, 143–4, 153–4 Attention  2–3, 7–9, 69n.3, 71, 79, 100, 108–10, 108n.12, 123–5, 123n.22 Automaticity  1n.1, 19, 96 Bar-On, Dorit  11–15, 12n.6 Basing Relation  39, 62 Begging the Question  35–6, 39–40 Bergson, Henri  19n.8, 126–7 Boghossian, Paul  5n.2, 21n.9, 146n.9 Brandom, Robert  21n.9 Burge, Tyler  5n.2, 8, 33n.7, 95–6, 108 Candidate Formulations  31–2, 79–80, 139 Carey, Susan  113n.16

Carruthers, Peter  13, 45n.3, 47, 71n.4 Cassam, Quassim  3, 13 Cognitive Access  63, 75–7, 87–8, 117, 150–1 Cognitive Integration  103, 110–11, 113, 117, 127 Cognitive Capacity Imperfect Mastery of  85 Spontaneous versus Deliberate Exercise  24, 28, 57–8 Sub-personal  82–3, 130–1 Cognitive Process Absorption 102–4 Dissociation 56–7 Termination 57 Unconscious Work  59–61, 77, 100, 103–4, 120 Collingwood, R.J  19, 64, 97, 106–7 Color Judgment Dispositional Model  109 Representational Model  109–16 Paradox About  94–6 Comparator Mechanism  77–9 Confabulation 50–1 Concepts Analysis and Refinement  32–3, 52 Recognitional  94–6, 108–20, 153 Simple versus Complex  94–5 Confidence  55, 59, 61, 69–71, 77, 119, 142–3, 149 Consciousness Senses of  64–5, 76n.12 Epistemic Role  113, 116n.18, 152–3 Relation to the Unconscious  24–5, 60–1

162 Index Content, see Representation Coordination 115–17 Damasio, Antonio  106 Defeaters 133–6 Dehaene, Stanislas  113n.16 Dennett, Daniel  34, 45–8 Descartes, René  4 Development, see Learning Dewey, John  106–7 Difficulties in Articulation  2, 17, 47, 67, 75–6, 79–86, 90–2, 98, 102–3, 126–7, 147 Effort  70, 81, 102–4, 117, 126, 138, 147 Mindless Head-banging  101–2 Emotion Awareness of  105–6, 108, 123–4 Expression of  19, 64, 104–6 Function in Articulation  103, 106–7 Regulation by Language  65n.16 Recruitment by Thought  106 Subtle Associated Emotion, see Micro-valence Equilibrium Point  59, 62–3 Evaluative Reactions  61–2 Evidential Cues  13, 70–1, 77, 117–19, 151 Expressivism 10–13 Familiarity  117–20, 122–3, 127, 143n.8 Feedback Loops  92–3 Feeling Of Appropriateness/Inappropriateness  77–8, 80, 142–3 Of Being Stuck  15, 17, 31–2, 80, 101, 103 Of Clarity  48–9, 120–6 Of Constraint  16–18, 39 Of Having a Thought  16, 69–70 Of Insight  15, 45–6, 83–4, 118, 144 Of “If ” and “But”  120 Of Guidance  101–3, 125n.24 Role in Rational Explanation  142–5, 152–3 Finkelstein, David  11–12

Fluency  71, 102 Fodor, Jerry  21n.9, 77n.14 Formalization of Mathematical Ideas  90–1 Formats 91–2 Foundational Facts  151–2 Frankfurt, Harry  25 Freedom  55–6, 107, 128–9 Frege, Gottlob  28n.3, 62n.15, 136n.3 Freud, Sigmund  24–5, 57n.13 Generate-and-test, see Trial-and-error Goldman, Alvin  7n.3 Goodman, Nicholas  90 Gopnik, Alison  13 Grice, Paul  25, 49n.4 Hermeneutic Injustice  118n.19 Hunch  48–54, 142, 144–5 Hursthouse, Rosalind  104–5 Images  24–6, 30–1, 45–7, 69n.3, 90–1, 110–11, 116, 149–50 Immediacy Of Recognition  14–15, 32–3, 46, 52, 59–60, 72, 79, 116, 119–20, 144–5 Psychological versus Epistemic  72n.7 Immunity to Error through Misidentification  4–5, 72–3 Impression, see Hunch Inference  10, 13–15, 21n.9, 24, 46, 61–2, 69–73, 75–6, 105, 136n.3, 138–9, 145–6, 150 Inner Speech  29–31, 70–1 Insight  45–6, 118, 144 Intentions Articulatory 25–6 Communicative 25 Distinct from Thoughts  28–9 Internal Codes, see Formats Intuition  19n.8, 49, 116n.18 James, William  25–6, 29 Kant, Immanuel  19, 110n.14 Kleist, Henrich von  147–8

Index  163 Knowledge Basic/Foundational  4, 76, 94–5, 151–3 Implicit  89–90, 108–20, 127–8, 143–6, 153–4 Partial  67–8, 73, 140–1 Propositional  12n.6, 89–90 Kripke, Saul  52n.9 Learning 85 Levelt, W.J.M  1n.1, 78n.15, 92–4, 96n.6 Memory Function in Recognition  109–10, 114 Retrieval  74–5, 147–50 Working Memory  79 Paradox 150–1 Parallels with Articulation  54–5, 73, 77, 149–50 Meno’s Paradox  18, 23–4, 37–8, 42, 67–8, 73–4 Mental File For Colors  110–11, 113 For Epistemic Projects  57–8 For Thoughts  117–20, 127 For Situational Properties/Nuances  144 For Objective versus Subjective Properties  124–5, 153 Mental Model  30–1, 90 Mental Pointing  108, 114 Merleau-Ponty, Maurice  44, 45n.2 Micro-valence  106, 153–4 Mind-reading 7n.3 Mode of Representation, see Format Modularity 91 Monitoring Mechanism  26, 77–8, 80–1, 92–4, 96–8, 103–4 Normative Evaluation/Filter  60–2, 130, 135–6, 138–9, 142, 144, 146 Paradox Definition Of  36–7 Epistemic  36, 40 Temporal 29 Peirce, Charles Sanders  58, 125–6 Perceptual Objectification  95–9, 108

Phenomenological Description  20 Piaget, Jean  85n.16 Plato  18, 23–4, 73–4 Planning  16, 24, 32–3, 45–6, 49, 54, 102, 107 Poincaré, Henri  59–62 Pre-verbal Message  92–4 Incremental Construction of  96–7 Presentation  113, 116n.18, 117, 123–6, 153 Private Labels  31 Propositional Attitudes  8, 27–8, 45n.3, 152 Propositions (as Distinct from Thoughts) 27 Psychoanalysis  15n.7, 57n.13 Puzzle, see Paradox Rationality Connection to Self-knowledge  7–9 Rational Explanation  86–8 Rational Reconstruction  32–3, 69–73, 105, 150 Reasons  8, 20–1, 50–1, 66, 67n.1, 87–8, 104–5, 117, 128 Rational Control  9–10, 20, 59, 62–3, 99–100, 102, 107, 128–9 Being in Control vs. Exerting Control 129 Reconfiguration of Control  64 Reasoning  8–9, 32–3, 49n.4, 63, 73, 76, 80, 107, 112–13, 126, 150–1 In Articulation  130 Recollection, see Memory Recognition Of Colors  108–16 Of Thoughts  116–20 Of Situational Properties/Nuances  143–5 Multiple Layers of  114–16, 121–2, 144–5 Redeployment of Content  91–2 Reflection Reflective Awareness  13–14, 64–5, 123–4 Reflective Sphere  129

164 Index Representation Better/Worse Modes of  52–3 Vehicles of, see Formats Verbally Interpretable  91–4, 96–100, 103–4, 117–20 Representational Content  68 Of Objective versus Subjective Properties  95, 113, 146, 153 Rule-following Regress Problem  145–6 Rule Circularity  36n.9 Russell, Bertrand  7–8, 52n.6 Russian Formalism  121n.21 Ryle, Gilbert  13, 32n.6

Shoemaker, Sydney  7–8 Signatures Of Cognitive Capacities  143–4 Of Colors  109–16, 153 Of Properties  117, 127–8, 143–6, 152–4 Of Rules  146 Of Thoughts  56–7, 116–20, 124–6 Match Between  114–15, 122 Slips of the Tongue  78 Socrates, see Plato Solomon, Robert  1, 38–9, 64–5 Speckled Hen Problem  113n.16

Sartre, Jean-Paul  18, 44 Schemata 110n.14 Schiffer, Stephen  36–7, 132n.1 Schopenhauer, Arthur  19 Self-consciousness, see Reflection Self-deception 55 Self-knowledge And Externalism  4–5, 8 Expression-based Accounts  10–13 Observation-based Accounts  7–8 Rationality-based Accounts  8 Transparency Model, see Transparency Method Interpretivist Model  13–15 Trivial versus Substantial  3–4 Shah, Nishiten  70

Thinking 27–8 Thought 27 Thurston, William  26n.1, 90 Translation 92 Transparency Method  8–10, 37–9, 148, 149n.1 Trial-and-error  101–2, 107 Trying vs. Doing  102 Vagueness  43–4, 52n.6 Velleman, David  70 Vigotsky, Lev  106 Wittgenstein, Ludwig  6–7, 10–11, 28, 69n.3, 88, 120 Wright, Crispin  11n.5, 95n.4,