Language as Internal

Anne Bezuidenhout

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780199552238
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191577451 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Language as Internal

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According to internalist conceptions of language, languages are properties of the mind/brains of individuals and supervene entirely on the internal states of these mind/brains. Hence, languages are primarily to be studied by the mind and/or brain sciences — psychology, neuroscience, and the cognitive sciences more generally (including linguistics and philosophy). This is not to deny that other sciences may contribute to our understanding too (e.g. evolutionary biology). The internalist conception of language is most associated with Chomsky, who has argued for it in many of his writings. Chomsky argues that one part of the human brain is specialized for language. This language system has an innate specification.

Keywords: internalist conception; conception of language; cognitive sciences; neuroscience; Chomsky; language systems

Article.  6636 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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