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Meaning, Mind and Communication

Explorations in Cognitive Semiotics

Edited By Jordan Zlatev, Göran Sonesson and Piotr Konderak

This volume constitutes the first anthology of texts in cognitive semiotics – the new transdisciplinary study of meaning, mind and communication that combines concepts and methods from semiotics, cognitive science and linguistics – from a multitude of established and younger scholars. The chapters deal with the interaction between language and other semiotic resources, the role of consciousness and concepts, the nature of metaphor, the specificity of human evolution and development, the relation between cognitive semiotics and related fields, and other central topics. They are grouped in four sections: (i) Meta-theoretical perspectives, (ii) Semiotic development and evolution, (iii) Meaning across media, modes and modalities, (iv) Language, blends and metaphors.

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Chapter 10. Mindreading, Mind-travelling and the Proto-discursive Origins of Language (Francesco Ferretti / Ines Adornetti)


Francesco Ferretti & Ines Adornetti

Chapter 10

Mindreading, Mind-travelling and the Proto-discursive Origins of Language

1. Introduction1

The idea that syntax is the essence of human language is a conceptual construct that was strongly supported in the 20th century by the fathers of so-called classical cognitive science. According to Chomsky (e.g. 1980, 1986), the devices at the foundation of the language faculty are those that elaborate the constituent structure of sentences, and according to Fodor (1975, 2008), the predicative structure of the sentence reflects the propositional structure of the Language of Thought. Underpinning the primacy of the sentence in these authors’ work is a way to propose a specific conception of language and cognition. In fact, the idea that language competence is a device that analyses the shape (syntax) of symbols regardless of their content and the relationship between the uttered expression and its context is part of a broader conception of how to analyse the study of the mind in classical cognitive science.

Rejecting the view of cognition as computations on amodal symbols, independent of the brain’s sensori-motor systems for the perception of an action, the standard position of cognitive science has been criticized by action-oriented perspectives (e.g. Barsalou 2008; Clark 1997; Varela et al. 1991). These perspectives, with their anti-cognitivism and attention to bodily experience, have strongly influenced cognitive semiotics (cf. Zlatev 2012). Following these action-oriented perspectives, we propose a model of language strictly tied to the paradigm...

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