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50 Years of Language Experiments with Great Apes

Igor Hanzel

The book approaches the language experiments with great apes performed in the last 50 years from the point of view of logical semantics, speech act theory, and philosophy of the social sciences based on the linguistic turn in philosophy. The author reconstructs the experiments with the great apes Washoe, Chantek, Lana, Sherman, Austin, Kanzi, Sarah and Sheba who were taught various kinds of languages, including the language of mathematics. From the point of view of the philosophy of science these experiments are interpreted as being part of the social sciences. The book proposes new mathematical experiments that are based on modern semantical reconstruction of the language of mathematics. The author shows that modern scientific research into great apes has shifted from natural science to social science.

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The book approaches the language experiments with great apes performed in the last 50 years from the point of view of logical semantics, speech-act theory, and philosophy of the social sciences based on the linguistic turn in philosophy. Subjected to analysis are the experiments organized by D. Premack, D. M. Rumbaugh, E. S. Savage-Rumbaugh, R. A. Gardner and B. T. Gardner, L. W. Miles and S. Boysen. None of these experiments involved a thoroughly developed understanding of what language stands for, instead, the scientists participating in those experiments tried to bypass the delineation of the notion of language by introducing some surrogates for it, taken from the behavioristic tradition or from some form of tentatively delineated cognitivism. These attempts are symptomatic of an unfinished turn to language in language experiments with great apes. The book shows that once this turn is accomplished by employing the understanding of the notion of language developed in modern logical semantics and speech-act theory, then past language experiments with great apes can be reevaluated and new language experiments can be proposed.←5 | 6→ ←6 | 7→

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