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Re-Thinking the Place of Semiotics in Psychology... 113

thought seriously ... of going right back beyond the Cartesian starting points, of dualism in
metaphysics, and representationism in epistemology‖ (p. 102). Anderson (1929/1962)
proposed that we do just that:

History has shown how Cartesianism leads on to absolute idealism. To get rid of idealism
we have to go back upon all sophisticated ―modern‖ views and recapture the Greek
directness. (p. 60)

This ―Greek directness‖ is the Aristotelian direct realist approach (cf. Esfeld, 2000;
Hood, 2004), spelled out in Anderson‘s (1927/1962) classic essay The knower and the known.
Direct realism (albeit sometimes mixed with non-realist aspects) can be traced from Aristotle
through Medieval scholasticism, Thomas Reid‘s reply to Locke, Brentano's concept of
intentionality, James, and the American New Realists (cf. Holt et al., 1912). According to this
view, mind is a relation because every mental act is directed at something (Aristotle's pros ti).
Logically, for knowing (perceiving, believing, etc.) to occur, there must be a knower (the
subject, the perceiving organism) and a known (the object, what is known or perceived), and
knowing is the relation between the two. The implications of this externalist relational view
of mind are radical and far-reaching. Mind is not ―in‖ the body (i.e., cognition is not
"embodied"), because mind is not a thing or entity (as the brain is). Rather, it is the brain as
subject or knower that is embodied, so it is more correct to say that all cognition/mentality is
grounded in an embodied brain; only an embodied brain enters into cognitive relations.
Cognition, therefore, is not ―private‖ and must be, in principle, observable (Michell, in press).
The ―contents‖ of ―consciousness‖ are not ―in here‖ but ―out there‖ (McMullen, in press).
Mind can be thought of as ―extended‖ in the sense of being a particular type of relation
between embodied brain and situations in its bodily and external environment. The
extendedness of mind does not lie in recent expansions of internal mental representations to
include multi-modal symbols in "grounded cognition" and "situated conceptualizations"
(Barsalou, 2008, 2009). Hence, realism's externalist approach to mind involves a non-
reductive materialist view of the mental as relation, which is in direct contrast to the two
major Cartesian-derived approaches to mind that have dominated mainstream psychology: the
behaviourist deference to Cartesianism via reactive dismissal of mind; and the crypto-
Cartesianist (cf. Bennett & Hacker, 2003) internalism, mind/brain dualism and
representationism of the cognitive information-processing approach.
The second key aspect of realism concerns the logic of relations, and it is that relations
are always external to the things related. Any relation must involve two or more terms (the
relata), each of which must be characterisable independently of the relation into which it
enters. The relation itself is external to the relata, and cannot be found (either partially or
completely) internal to one of its terms (because the relation is how they are with respect to
each other). Put another way, a term or entity cannot be (either partially or wholly)
constituted by its relations to any other term or entity. To use a simple example involving the
spatial relation being on in the situation the book is on the table, the ―being on‖ relation is
external both to the book and to the table, and cannot be found internal to either. Of course,
the relation cannot obtain without the related terms, because it is not a separate existent in the
sense of being some third element or stuff, floating between the two; ―it‖ is simply how the
two objects stand with respect to each other. Conversely, both the book and the table are
entirely characterisable without any reference to their spatial location with respect to each

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