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Psicologia: Reflexão e Crítica

Print version ISSN 0102-7972On-line version ISSN 1678-7153


OLIVEIRA, Cláudio Ivan de  and  OLIVEIRA-CASTRO, Jorge M.. Conceptual problems with the intellectualistic doctrine: implications to some cognitive explanations. Psicol. Reflex. Crit. [online]. 2003, vol.16, n.1, pp.171-176. ISSN 0102-7972.

Descartes´ intellectualistic doctrine consists in part in the belief that in order for people to adequately execute a task, they first have to reflect on the rules of good performance that apply to that task. Therefore, good performance on any task would always depend on the individual's consciousness of the prescriptions for the actions, consciousness being understood as an internal process, free from mistakes concerning its ability to perceive the flow of mental life, of admitting for oneself certain prescriptions about what will be done. According to this doctrine's interpretation, immaterial life episodes, such as thinking and judging, would be responsible for actions, material life episodes. One of the problems related to this intellectualistic doctrine, according to Ryle, is that many of the so-called intelligent actions are not preceded by any previous knowledge of the applicable principles. Another more relevant problem refers to the fact that such doctrine may generate an infinite theoretical regression, that is, if intelligent actions are necessarily preceded by intelligent theoretical considerations, the latter, in order to be considered intelligent, would also have to be preceded by other intelligent theoretical considerations. Since Cognitive Psychology, represented for example by information processing theories, was influenced by the intellectualistic doctrine, the criticism mentioned previously can also be applied to it. It is suggested that an analysis of the uses of psychological concepts in ordinary language may be useful in solving some of these conceptual difficulties.

Keywords : Consciousness; intellectualistic doctrine; cognitive psychology; infinite regress; conceptual analysis.

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