I am curious what people think about a prima facie puzzle that I have been thinking about. It is more of a mind than an epistemology puzzle. However, certain answers to it have important ramifications for epistemology. So, I think it appropriate to CD and expect CDers to have views on the matter. Here goes:
(1): For all mental states; M represents M (itself) only if,
the presence of M in optimal conditions causes the tokening of M (itself).
(2): There is at least one mental state, M, which represents M (itself).
(3): It is never the case that the presence of a mental state, M, causes the tokening of M (itself).
(1) looks like an instance of a causal constraint on mental representation. Many theories of mental representation are prima facie committed to such a constraint. E.g., information-theoretic accounts, certain versions of disjunctivism etc. (2) is motivated by examples such as the thought THIS VERY THOUGHT IS INTERESTING (I use caps for mentioning thoughts and their components). (3) looks like an instance of the general principle that nothing is the cause of its own tokening.
However, if (3) is true, then the consequent of (1) is never true. But if so, the antecedent of (1) is never true. But to assume that the antecedent of (1) is never true is to contradict (2). So, prima facie the three theses are mutually inconsistent.
I am interested in all sorts of responses. Is the puzzle is well-formed? Is it interesting? What do people think of the premises? Does it rest on an equivocation? Could it be articulated in a better way etc? Oh… and kingdom for a name! (So far ‘The No Causa Sui Puzzle’ is all I got).
Thanks in advance,