The relation of thought to language is discussed and the thesis that a capacity for thought, or for some kinds of thought, requires the possession of a natural language assessed. The thesis, defended by Davidson, that a capacity for thought involves both linguistic competence and a capacity for higher-order thought, and Bermúdez’s contention that higher-order thought is inevitably linguistic are discussed. A conception of conscious thinking as the deployment of imagery is explained and defended. Mental images — verbal or ‘pictorial’ — owe their significance, not to their intrinsic character, but to the use to which they are put by intelligent creatures. Thus the question whether a creature lacking language could entertain a particular kind of thought turns on the question whether the creature has a use for thoughts of that kind. The importance of use is illustrated by reference to what Martin calls proto-language. Non-conscious thinking is explained dispositionally.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.