If any things are known representationally, then some things must be known nonrepresentationally (immediately, by being had or grasped).

  • Otherwise we can’t know about something via a representation , because we’d need another representation to know .
  • Representationalism gives rise to choice between epistemological skepticism vs foundationalism.

Royce’s argument from error

Brandom compares Descartes move to avoid this regress to Josiah Royce’s argument which argues if even misrepresentation is to be possible, there must be some things we know immediately. See SEP.

Relation to semantic skepticism

What is the basis of our knowledge of the relation between representeds and representings? This is a question beyond knowing particular representeds.

We must have a representing (our concept of representation) of the relation of representings to representeds. But then we also need a representation of , and so on.

This is something that the representational model itself couldn’t address, and Descartes had to invoke God to address this. Kant clarified this as semantic skepticism: skepticism about the intelligibility of the very notion of knowledge, the intelligibility of the notion of a representational relation between what’s known and the knowing of it.