Immediate mental antecedents of an action attaches action properties to actions to guide us in executing them and differentiate between actual actions and mere bodily movements. This essay aims to explain how immediate mental antecedents, according to Bence Nanay illuminate conscious and unconscious representations.
Immediate mental antecedents of action are perceptual states representing objects as having certain action properties which helps by proving guidance whenever one executes an action. Pragmatic representation is considered as the cognitive components of immediate mental antecedents of action which react to stimulation by the senses, although they are very important for the execution of an action, they are not enough to actually perform an action as a conative component is needed and they are only the cognitive.
To distinguish actions from mere bodily movements Nanay introduces the idea of pragmatic representations as the cognitive component such that the only way to understand what it is that makes an action an actual action is to appeal to mental states.Immediate mental antecedents of action consist of two components, one that represents the world as being in a certain way and one that actually makes us execute actions. These components can come apart, but it is important that they work together to actually get actions done.
By definition, in order to perform action pragmatic representation (component that represents the world as being in a certain way) are not sufficient the conative component of the immediate mental antecedent of action is needed to actually execute the actions. Pragmatic representations project objects as having certain action properties and can either be correct or incorrect which when correct perfectly guides our actions but when incorrect it’s a whole different story. Nanay provides an example where pragmatic representation attach incorrect properties to an object while conscious perceptual experiences attach them correctly and what happens as a result.
Thinking of a scenario where one puts on goggles that distort the shape and size of a cup such that it represented as being bigger than it is in actual size. First attempts to grip it are a failure because the grip one uses it bigger that it should be because of the misrepresentation caused by the goggles. The one takes of the goggles and appreciates the actual size of the cup which also helps to adjust the grip to the right size by attaching the correct actual properties yet again.
The mental state at the beginning of is distorted in comparison to the end where correct action properties are restored. This is because our pragmatic representations attribute a certain size for the cup which offers guidance for the execution of an action of grabbing a cup. Our conscious perceptual experience attributes another size to the cup. Pragmatic representations in this scenario changes but our conscious perceptual experience does not change. Nanay also uses the example of a 3D illusion that a chip surrounded by smaller chips seems to appear as being bigger than a chip of the same diameter the only different being that the latter chip is surrounded by large ones.
Although the perceptual experience is incorrect, the grip one uses for the chip is not influenced by the illusion that misrepresents the size of the chips. In this case both our pragmatic representation and conscious perceptual experience attribute different size properties towards the chip. Our conscious perceptual experience at the time misrepresent the action properties but the pragmatic representation is correct. Both mental states attribute properties: the conscious perceptual experience attributes properties of the size we experience while the pragmatic representation attributes the size that actually guides our actions such that they are successfully executed. Given that we have a conscious and incorrect representation of the same object, this pragmatic representation has to be unconscious.