Language and Thinking about Thoughts

Jose Luis Bermudez

in Thinking without Words

Published in print May 2003 | ISBN: 9780195159691
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849598 | DOI:

Series: Philosophy of Mind Series

Language and Thinking about Thoughts

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This chapter provides an argument that intentional ascent requires semantic ascent, on the grounds that intentional ascent requires the ability “to hold a thought in mind” in a way that can only be done if the thought is linguistically vehicled. It tries to explain that there is an important class of thoughts that is in principle unavailable to nonlinguistic creatures. It also explores how language can function as a cognitive tool. Many of these functions do not actually require a full-fledged language. If language is to have a distinctive, unique, and essential cognitive function, so that the difference between linguistic and nonlinguistic cognition is qualitative rather than merely quantitative, then it should be investigated further. The chapter takes into account many aspects of language where language functions as a cognitive tool: memory augmentation; environmental simplification; coordination; transcending path-dependent learning; control loops; and data manipulation and representation.

Keywords: thoughts; nonlinguistic cognition; language; data manipulation; nonlinguistic creatures

Chapter.  7604 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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