Louise Antony

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Mind

Published in print January 2009 | ISBN: 9780199262618
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy


More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Mind


Show Summary Details


Human language is not the only naturally occurring symbol system. There are many animals other than human beings that communicate by means of signs or signals; vervet monkeys, for example, have specialized warning cries for different kinds of predators. And some animal-communication systems even have a rudimentary syntax: the dances performed by certain honey bees have structural elements that tell other bees the direction and distance from the hive of a nectar source. But what's distinctive of human language — and the feature that Descartes was highlighting — is that the syntax of human language permits us to take parts of signs and recombine them with parts of other signs.

Keywords: symbol system; human language; animal-communication systems; reflex behaviour; human syntax

Article.  12345 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Mind

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.