The Given: Experience and Its Content, by Michelle Montague. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016, xii + 250 pp. ISBN 13: 978‐0‐19‐874890‐8 hb £35.00; also available as eBook
Michelle Montague's The Given invites us to rethink what mental content is. Rather than accept a traditional notion of mental content—on which unconscious mental states (i.e., mental states that lack phenomenal character) can have content—the book asks us to give a bold new notion of content a chance. On this new notion, “the content of an experience is (absolutely) everything that is given to one, experientially, in the having of the experience, everything one is aware of, experientially, in having the experience” (p. 30). This suggests that experiences have no contents that do not have “phe-nomenological presence in some manner” (p. 32). The new notion is furthermore “of a piece with the intuition that one cannot properly talk of mental content in the case of a robot, however behaviorally sophisticated it is” (pp. 32–33).