Thought, Language, and Animals

in Grazer Philosophische Studien
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This paper discusses Wittgenstein's ideas about the relation between thought, neurophysiology and language, and about the mental capacities of non-linguistic animals. It deals with his initial espousal and later rejection of a 'language of thought', his arguments against the idea that thought requires a medium of images or words, his reasons for resisting the encephalocentric conception of the mind which dominates contemporary philosophy of mind, his mature views about the connection between thought and language, and his remarks about animals. The aim is not just to get a clear picture of Wittgenstein's position, but also to contrast it with contemporary approaches such as those of Fodor and Searle. While rejecting some of Wittgenstein's claims about the role of the brain, I defend his basic idea, namely that the capacity for entertaining a thought is conceptually tied to the capacity for displaying that thought in behaviour, rather than to the possession of language as such or to the occurrence of specific neurophysiological phenomena.

Grazer Philosophische Studien

International Journal for Analytic Philosophy

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