Cognitive Trying

  • Frederick Adams
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 266)


People do things (walk, talk, plan for retirement). People also try to do things (to quit smoking, to time the stock market, to preserve their marriages). Doing and trying are very basic activities, ranging from the simple (a baby grasping a toy, a toddler trying to walk) to the sublime (attempting to capture the beauty of a sunset on Waikiki, trying to reduce mathematics to logic and set theory). Surprisingly, or at least surprising to me, there are many interesting philosophical issues that converge on the topic of trying. For instance, Ken can unintentionally do something (offend someone, perhaps), but Ken cannot unintentionally try to offend someone (by mimicking them, say). Why is that? What is it about trying such that one cannot do it unintentionally? Also, can only creatures with minds or the making of minds try to do things? Or can trees or bacteria try to do things? If not trees or bacteria, why not? What do minds contribute to trying? Or is it the other way around — is the ability to try an ingredient in the makings of having a mind?


Mental State Video Game Intentional Action Propositional Attitude Rational Pressure 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frederick Adams
    • 1
  1. 1.Central Michigan UniversityUSA

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