Is there a thing in my mind? Is that how it's phrased? I understand there is the definition of apple as a concept...is this what is in my mind? The definition doesn't include red though...Honestly I would have said that if there is a thing and I'm thinking about it, there are two different entities, there is the real thing that exists and there is the concept of it in my mind, but this doesn't seem to be correct. Can anyone please tell me what actually is in my mind? Is it called a concept? Thanking you in advance.


1 Answer 1


According to representationalism, which is probably the most popular philosophical approach to perception these days, when you perceive a red apple, you token a representation of the apple. This representation, which is the percept itself or a related entity, represents the apple, in the sense that it will typically have accuracy conditions that are sensitive to the apple---say, the representation will be false, or inaccurate, if it represents the apple as red but it is green.

Now, many, although by no means all, philosophers will say that perceptual representations are non-conceptual: they are not constituted by concepts, at least if concepts are taken to be the same entities we think and judge with. Perceptual representations earn their accuracy conditions in some other way, perhaps simply by tracking extramental states of affairs.

In any event, you are perfectly right: when you think of, or perceive, an existing red apple, there are two things: a mental state of yours that represents the apple, and the apple out there. Only the latter is red; the formerly merely represents the apple as being red.

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    I think his question is what direct realists, who are not representationalists, have to say about "things in the head". In other words, when they say that we perceive the apple's redness directly is that redness only "out there" into which our mind "spills over", or is there also something "in the mind", and if so is it red itself?
    – Conifold
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 16:45
  • He might indeed be alluding to naïve realism. On the other hand, the way he describes the position he has in mind (no pun intended), it is more naturally understood as representationalism, or perhaps a sense-data account. Hopefully he'll clarify.
    – Schiphol
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 16:51
  • Thank you very much for your replies, they are very helpful. I'm writing a paper about Anselm's ontological argument, Kant and Plantingas objections. Kant speaks of the concept of $100 and how it is unaffected if the $100 actually exists in reality. (hence: existence is not a predicate) Anselm speaks of the greatest conceivable being, says 'if it exists in the mind', ...can this being actually exist in the mind? Does the $100 actually exist in the mind? According to both Kant and Anselm, it seems they have distinguished between two entities, one in the mind and one in reality, is this typical?
    – Rob Hv
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 19:35
  • @RobHv The clear distinction between "subjective" impressions and "real" things is often attributed to Descartes in modern times, but one can detect it already in Aristotle, Stoics, and medieval authors like Anselm. Frege codified it in his semantics as the distinction between sense and reference.
    – Conifold
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 20:40
  • Reading that "The reference of a sentence is its truth value, its sense is the thought that it expresses" , I don't think this is what I'm after, it's not the semantics, the truth value or meaning of a sentence that I'm wanting to know about, it's the object vs concept. I know we define concepts and then there may be instances of that concept, but does this mean if there is a red apple in reality, and I think of the red apple, that there is a 'red apple in my mind'? Or is it the concept that has the definition of apple that is in my mind? I'm confused...sorry I hope I've been clear
    – Rob Hv
    Commented Jun 1, 2018 at 22:10

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