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Thought as Internal Speech in Plato and Aristotle

In: History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis
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Scholars often assert that Plato and Aristotle share the view that discursive thought (dianoia) is internal speech (TIS). However, there has been little work to clarify or substantiate this reading. In this paper I show Plato and Aristotle share some core commitments about the relationship of thought and speech, but cash out TIS in different ways. Plato and Aristotle both hold that discursive thinking is a process that moves from a set of doxastic states to a final doxastic state. The resulting judgments (doxai) can be true or false. Norms govern these final judgments and, in virtue of that, they govern the process that arrives at those judgments. The principal norm is consistency. However, the philosophers differ on the source of this norm. For Plato, persuasiveness and accuracy ground non-contradiction because internal speech is dialogical. For Aristotle, the Principle of Non-Contradiction grounds a Doxastic Thesis (DT) that no judgment can contradict itself. For Aristotle, metaphysics grounds non-contradiction because internal speech is monological.

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