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The Question of Representation


Admission requirements

  • BA students in Philosophy: propedeuse degree has been obtained as well as the second-year course Philosophy of Mind.

  • BA students from other departments (including contractstudenten): propedeuse degree has been obtained, and additionally the following philosophy courses is/are required: Philosophy of Mind.


The course will explore the concept of representation (including mental representation) prominent in philosophy of mind and cognitive science. It will look at the role of representations in cognition (such as computational theory of mind) at the arguments for naturalising representation (e.g. biosemantics), as well as the arguments against representation (radical enactivism).

The course will also provide the historical origin of the concept of representation (Plato, Kant, Schopenhauer), as well as situate it by application of the concept of representation to various contexts, such as art (Wollheim), language (Fodor) or sport (Wheeler).

Sample questions to be discussed in the course are: Can we think about the world without representing it to be one way or another? What does representing add to our cognitive capacities? Can there be linguistic or artistic representation without mental representation? What are action-oriented representations?

Course objectives

Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:

  • the origin of the notion of mental representation prevalent in modern philosophy of mind;

  • the relation between cognitive mental representations and socio-cultural representations;

  • different approaches to understanding representations in various context (incl. narratives, art, sport).

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • discuss knowledgeably key texts in the history of representational thought;

  • relate issues raised by followers and enemies of the representational approach to cognition to actual concerns in modern psychology and cognitive neuroscience.


The timetable is available on the BA Wijsbegeerte website
BA Wijsbegeerte 2016-2017 (BA Plus-traject of Standaardtraject), derde jaar.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Class attendance is required.

Course Load

Total course load: 10 ECTS credits x 28 hours = 280 hours

  • Attending classes: 14 × 3 hours = 42 hours

  • Required reading: 158 hours

  • Writing mid-term paper: 30 hours

  • Writing term paper: 50 hours

Assessment method

  • Class participation (10%)

  • Midterm paper (40%)

  • Final (written) exam (50%)


The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average of several subtests. A subtest can be graded as unsatisfactory.

Class participation is a mandatory requirement for taking the tests or resit. Students can only miss two lectures out of fourteen in order to pass the course. If you miss more, confer with the teacher about possibilities for compensating the missed classes.


One resit will be offered, covering the entire course content, consisting of a paper. The grade will replace previously earned grades for subtests. Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the first examination(s) cannot take the resit.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • sharing reading materials and assignments

  • discussion

  • feedback

Reading list

Required readings will be made available on Blackboard.


Enrolment for courses and exams through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetables for and exams in the column under the heading “uSis-Actnbr”.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Contractonderwijs


Dr. Z.A. Rucinska


Not applicable.