Is language necessary for thinking about thoughts

Dissertation, University of Edinburgh (2013)
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Abstract

This paper considers one aspect of the relationship between language and thought, focusing on a theory proposed by José Luis Bermúdez. Bermúdez argues that language is required for any kinds of thinking that involve thinking about thoughts, or what he calls 'intentional ascent'. I argue, to the contrary, that Bermúdez gives us no reason to suppose language is necessary for all instances of thinking about thoughts. Whilst I am broadly sympathetic to supra-communicative approaches to language, I seek to deny Bermúdez’s particular thesis; I do so by showing that alternative representational formats, specifically maps, could play qualitatively the same role that language is supposed to play in his account of thinking about thoughts.

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Sarah A Fisher
University College London

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