Where do my thoughts go?

Philosopher's reply

Dear Jordan,

Well, some of them made it to Australia! Let’s start with a distinction. The word ‘thought’ can refer to two very different sorts of things: acts of thinking, or the objects of such acts (what you are thinking). Acts of thinking are private and fleeting episodes in your mental life (some might say your brain). They do not travel outside of you, nor do they persist when you stop thinking. But thoughts in this sense hook up with thoughts in the other sense – things thought about. Thoughts in that sense are public and persistent: you and I can think the same thoughts and on different occasions. Where do thoughts in this sense live? Plato took them to inhabit their own special realm. Less fancifully, but no less wondrously, they emerge from the patterns of our interactions with each other and the world around us.

Markos Valaris

Philosopher's profile

Markos Valaris

UNSW Sydney, Australia

Murdoch is a staunch realist, who emphasises our engagement with an independent world imbued with value and meaning. She also, at the same time, emphasises that moral life is in an important sense private, and an individual achievement. This combination makes for a very distinctive outlook, on which action and knowledge are very closely entwined. This is a deep insight!

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