John Pouilly and John Baconthorpe on Reflex Acts

In José Higuera Rubio (ed.), Per cognitionem visualem. The Visualization of Cognitive and Natural Processes in the Middle Ages. Turnhout: Brepols (2023)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

When I think that I am now thinking about a rose, are there two mental acts present in the intellect at once, the one direct (about the rose) and the other reflex (about the thought about the rose)? According to a generally accepted principle in medieval psychology, a given mental power cannot have or elicit multiple mental acts at the same time. Hence, many medieval thinkers were unwilling to admit that during such a case of mental reflection there are two acts present in the mind. In this paper, I will look at two theories about mental reflection. According to John Pouilly (1312), during a case of mental reflection there is just one act present in the mind. However, this one act is somehow identical with the direct mental act about the rose that immediately preceded it. If it were not identical with this act, then the sentence "I am thinking that I am thinking about a rose" would be false, since in order for this sentence to be true the direct mental act of thinking about the rose must be present with the reflex mental act of thinking about that act, either as a distinct act, or as somehow identical with it. According to John Baconthorpe (ca. 1325), such a view fails, for even if the reflex mental act were somehow identical with the direct mental act that immediately preceded it, still we would have to admit that it does not coexist with it. On his view, what is sufficient here is that the direct mental· act exist merely as a kind of represented object. Hence, for Baconthorpe, when I think that I am thinking about a rose, there is just one act present in the mind, and this one act has as its content another distinct act (the direct act). However, the direct act does not really exist at the same time as it, although it is represented as if it did.

Author's Profile

Peter Hartman
Loyola University, Chicago

Analytics

Added to PP
2023-02-21

Downloads
131 (#76,116)

6 months
77 (#48,766)

Historical graph of downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.
How can I increase my downloads?