Evans on intellectual attention and memory demonstratives

Analytic Philosophy 63 (2):118-130 (2022)
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Intellectual attention, like perceptual attention, is a special mode of mental engagement with the world. When we attend intellectually, rather than making use of sensory information we make use of the kind of information that shows up in occurent thought, memory, and the imagination (Chun, Golomb, & Turk-Browne, 2011). In this paper, I argue that reflecting on what it is like to comprehend memory demonstratives speaks in favour of the view that intellectual attention is required to understand memory demonstratives. Moreover, I argue that this is a line of thought endorsed by Gareth Evans in his Varieties of Reference (1982). In so doing, I improve on interpretations of Evans that have been offered by Christopher Peacocke (1984), and Christoph Hoerl & Theresa McCormack (a coauthored piece, 2005). In so doing I also improve on McDowell’s (1990) criticism of Peacocke’s interpretation of Evans. Like McDowell, I believe that Peacocke might overemphasize the role that “memory-images” play in Evans’ account of comprehending memory demonstratives. But unlike McDowell, I provide a positive characterization of how Evans described the phenomenology of comprehending memory demonstratives
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