The Analog-Digital Distinction Fails to Explain the Perception-Thought Distinction: An Alternative Account of the Format of Mental Representation


mental representation format
iconic representations
discoursive representations



The format of mental representation is the way information is organized in the mind. The discussion surrounding the format of representation addresses the problem of what representational primitives are and the rules of information processing.

In philosophy, the discussion is dominated by the distinction between analog and digital representational systems. It is thought that this distinction can bring us closer to an understanding of the nature of perceptual and discursive representations.

I argue that the analog-digital distinction cannot meet that expectation. The analog-digital distinction is neither sufficient nor necessary to explain the distinction between perceptual and discursive representations (and perception and thinking, respectively). I propose an alternative interpretation of the concept of representational format which provides us a better understanding of the difference between iconic and discursive representations. I explain the differences between formats of representations in terms of differences in information processing. I demonstrate, how this alternative interpretation of the concept of the representational format can explain the constraints put on the contents of representational systems.



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