Selected Topics in Writing an Academic Paper
I. The Mind and language
9I The Mind and language Keywords: innateness, learning, language of thought, private language Language use is a remarkable fact about human beings. The role of language as a vehicle of thought enables human thinking to be complex and varied. With lan- guage, one can describe the past or speculate about the future and so deliberate and plan in light of one’s beliefs about how things stand. Language enables one to imag- ine counterfactual objects, events, and states of aff airs. In this connection, it is intimately related to intention- ality, the feature of all human thoughts whereby they are essentially about, or directed toward, things outside themselves. Language allows one to share information and to communicate beliefs and desires, attitudes and emotions. Indeed, it creates the human social world, rooting people into a common history and a common life experience. Language is equally an instrument of understanding and knowledge; the specialised languages 10 of mathematics and science, for example, enable human beings to construct theories and make predictions about matters they would otherwise be completely unable to grasp. Language, in short, makes it possible for individ- ual human beings to escape cognitive imprisonment in the here and now. The evidently close connection between language and thought does not imply that there can be no thought without language. Although some philosophers and linguists have embraced this view, most regard it as implausible. Prelinguistic infants and at least the higher primates, for example, can solve quite complex prob- lems, such as those...
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