Searle’s Dispositional Theory and the Problem of Unconscious Mental Causation


  • Tárik de Athayde Prata Universidade Federal de Pernambuco



Unconscious, Dispositional theory, Mental causation, Aspectual shape


Exactly as Descartes, Searle sees consciousness as essential to mental phenomena. In order to make this (1) Cartesian view of consciousness compatible with (2) the acceptance of the unconscious, he holds (3) a dispositional theory: unconscious states exist as dispositions to the production of conscious states. However, his argument for the connection between the mental and consciousness is based on the thesis that the aspectual shape does not exist in objective phenomena, which is incompatible with unconscious mental causation. In order to be causally efficacious, an unconscious state has to be an occurring aspectual shape, which belies the dispositional theory and exists independently from consciousness, contradicting the Cartesian view.

Key-words: Unconscious, Dispositional theory, Mental causation, Aspectual shape.


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