Language, Behaviour, and Empathy. G.H. Mead’s and W.V.O. Quine’s Naturalized Theories of Meaning

Abstract

ABSTRACTThe paper compares Mead’s and Quine’s behaviouristic theories of meaning and language, focusing in particular on Mead’s notion of sympathy and Quine’s notion of empathy. On the one hand, Quine seems to resort to an explanation similar to Mead’s notion of sympathy, referring to ‘empathy’ in order to justify the human ability to project ourselves into the witness’s position; on the other hand, Quine’s reference to the notion of empathy paves the way to a more insightful comparison between Mead’s behaviourism and an explanation of the emergence of the linguistic from pre-linguistic communication based on empathic identification processes. However, Mead is less ambiguous than Quine in his use of the notion of sympathy finds a fecund parallel in the current neuroscientific and neuro-phenomenological hypothesis on ‘empathy’. The article contends that the ambiguity in Quine’s account of empathy is due to the exigency of trying to elucidate the link between the rules of language in a cultural context and...

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References found in this work

Word and Object.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1960 - Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.
The Theory of Moral Sentiments.Adam Smith - 1759 - Dover Publications.
Word and Object.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1960 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 17 (2):278-279.
Ontological Relativity.W. V. Quine - 1968 - Journal of Philosophy 65 (7):185-212.

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