” [Thomas] Nagel thinks that to deprive ourselves of such notions as “representation” and “correspondence” would be to stop “trying to climb outside of our own minds, an effort some would regard as insane and that I regard as philosophically fundamental.”
” Antirepresentationalists do not think such efforts insane, but they do think that the history of philosophy shows them to have been fruitless and undesirable. They think that these efforts generate the sort of pseudo-problems which Wittgenstein hoped to avoid by abandoning the picture which held him captive when he wrote the Tractatus. Wittgenstein was not insane when he wrote that book, but he was right when he later described himself as having been buzzing around inside a fly-bottle. His escape from the
bottle was not, as Williams suggests, a matter of buzzing off in the direction of transcendental idealism, but rather of refusing any longer to be tempted to answer questions like “Is reality intrinsically determinate, or is its determinacy a result of our
activity?” He was not suggesting that we determine the way reality is. He was suggesting that questions which we should have to climb out of our own minds to answer should not be asked. He was suggesting that both realism and idealism share representationalist presuppositions which we would be better off dropping.
Nagel thinks that if we follow Wittgenstein we must “acknowledge that all thought is an illusion,” for “the Wittgensteinian atttack on transcendent thoughts depends on a position so radical that it also undermines the weaker transcendent pretensions of even the least philosophical of thoughts.”” Pretty much the same view is found in David Lewis’s reply to Putman’s suggestion that we be content to remain intratheoretical, content not to seek a God’s-eye view. Lewis grants that if theories of reference are “made true by our referential intentions,” then Putnam’s internalism is inescapable. But, he says, “What we say and think not only doesn’t settle what we refer to, it doesn’t even settle the prior question of how it is to be settled what we refer to.”” So, he continues, we need a constraint on theories of reference which is something other than our referential intentions, and we can get it by “taking physics . . . at face value.” “Physics,” according to Lewis, “professes to discover the elite properties,” where “elite” means the ones whose “boundaries are established by objective sameness and difference in nature.
“the marks and noises made by certain organisms hang together in a coherent pattern, one which can be fitted into our overall account of the interaction between these organisms and their environment. Davidson ‘s argument that we must interpret the beliefs of any such organism (including ourselves) as true, and most of any organism’s concepts as concepts which we ourselves also possess, boils down to the claim that we shall not take ourselves to have found such a coherent pattern unless we can see these organisms as talking mostly about things to which they stand in real cause- and effect relations. Since our theory of how to correlate another organism ‘s marks and noises with our own has to take its place within a general theory of our and their similar relation to relevant environments, there is no room for the sort of wholesale slippage between organism and environment which the Cartesian notion of “inner representation of the environment” is capable of producing. More generally, there is no room for the notion of “thought” or “language” as capable of being mostly out of phase with the environment — for there is no way to give sense to the notion of “out of phase.”