I’d like to start this where Psiomniac left off in the last comment string where he stated:
“But as we already agreed, you cannot show representation outside of a circular argument. I think we agreed that there can be no non circular argument that justifies our appeal to things like reason or to the existence of things outside our minds. That is to say that the foundationalist quest for a bullet proof argument to show we are justified is doomed.”
To this I believe we both agree…
“But it doesn't follow that there are no reasons at all to suppose that we represent aspects of the phenomenal world. You want to argue perhaps that it is impossible to occupy a position from which we can directly assess a correspondence between what we say and how things are; trying to attain such a transcendental vantage point would be like trying to step outside our own skin.”
Let me build an example from this; lets suppose that I’m a realist and I proclaim that God exists. Naturally the atheist demands proof of which so far in the history of mankind no such thing exists – as such the theist pre-supposes God’s existence. However, is there any reason at all to suppose God doesn’t exist? Does the world assume a creator in much the same way a word assumes a representation? It's my belief that in this instance the theist needs to offer up a reason why one should believe such a thing in the absence of proof.
This is likewise the case for the representationalist; if you want to assume that words are representational and you agree that one cannot prove such a thing, then why should I believe it? I think we’d both agree following your first paragraph that it would merely be an assumption.
“The plausibility of this idea, and perhaps the notion that if there are 'objects' in the world that exist independently of our representations of them, then there is no way in which our representations could intelligibly thought to be 'like' the objects, since the only notions of representation as such that are available to us, are in terms of our concepts and sense experience, rather than the objects themselves. This is taken to introduce the limitation that since we can't know objects in-themselves, we cannot talk meaningfully about them. Thus the notion of representation is a non starter, or so the argument goes.
Is that interpretation close?”
No, not a correct interpretation:
This seems to me to be a statement made from the empiricist’s tool kit that I would simply reject outright. It seems to say, “We can’t know objects because all we can know is sense experience”; and of course we can reduce this to, “We can’t know sense experience because all we can know is cognitive states”, and so on and so on as science opens up new avenues of description we have a reduction ad absurdum.
If one cannot show the truth of represenation, then why should I beleive it?