Article

Language of Thought

Murat Aydede

in Philosophy

ISBN: 9780195396577
Published online June 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0151
Language of Thought

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The language of thought hypothesis (LOTH) is a foundational and yet largely empirical thesis about how thoughts (as states) and thinking (as processes) are realized in creatures with sufficiently complex minds. It postulates a language-like system of mental representations as the vehicles of thought and thinking. These representations are presumed to be multiply realized in the brain (or the relevant hardware) of cognizers. This system is said to be a mental language (“Mentalese”) in virtue of satisfying the following two conditions: (i) its representations have a combinatorial (compositional) syntax and semantics, that is, complex representations of the system are systematically built out of the simple ones according to whatever grammar turns out to govern their constructions, and their semantics is a function of the semantics of their simple constituents together with their syntactic structure; and (ii) the operations defined over these representations are causally sensitive only to their syntax. In such a system, propositional attitudes such as beliefs and desires are identified with different computational relations to such mental representations. Condition (i) is a commitment to the representational theory of mind (RTM), whose history in one form or another goes back at least to the British empiricists with their postulation of simple and complex ideas. Condition (ii) is a newer development whose roots lie deeply in the development of modern symbolic logic and digital computers and is sometimes known as the computational theory of mind (CTR); this is the more controversial aspect of LOTH. Thus LOTH can be seen as the conjunction of RTM and CTM, sometimes abbreviated as CRTM.

Article.  9987 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art ; Epistemology ; Feminist Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy ; Metaphysics ; Moral Philosophy ; Non-Western Philosophy ; Philosophy of Language ; Philosophy of Law ; Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic ; Philosophy of Mind ; Philosophy of Religion ; Philosophy of Science ; Social and Political Philosophy

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