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See detailThought, Language, and Reasoning. Perspectives on the Relation Between Mind and Language
Fraissler, Hannes UL

Doctoral thesis (2021)

This dissertation is an investigation into the relation between mind and language from different perspectives, split up into three interrelated but still, for the most part, self-standing parts. Parts I ... [more ▼]

This dissertation is an investigation into the relation between mind and language from different perspectives, split up into three interrelated but still, for the most part, self-standing parts. Parts I and II are concerned with the question how thought is affected by language while Part III investigates the scope covered by mind and language respectively. Part I provides a reconstruction of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s famous Private Language Argument in order to apply the rationale behind this line of argument to the relation between mind and language. This argumentative strategy yields the conclusion that reasoning – an important type of thought – is constitutively dependent on language possession and is therefore not available to non-linguistic creatures. This result is achieved by considering the preconditions for reasoning – given that it is a rule-governed activity – and eliminating competitors to language for providing reasoners with what it takes to reason. Part II provides a critical outlook on the wide and highly heterogeneous field of linguistic relativity theories. It is argued that no kind of linguistic relativity whatsoever follows from the conclusion of Part I – i.e., the claim that reasoning is constitutively dependent on having a language. While Part II does not provide a conclusive argument against the linguistic relativity hypothesis, it is argued that endorsement of linguistic relativity theories often rests on a mistaken assumption to the effect that language and culture are interwoven in a way which makes it impossible to separate culture and language, as well as their respective studies. This assumption is undermined by providing examples of languages which clearly predate their culture (Esperanto) or do not even have a culture at all (Klingon). So, the assumption that language and culture are inextricably intertwined is refuted by way of counterexample. Part III provides an in-depth examination of the Principle of Expressibility – prominently endorsed and formulated by John Searle – which claims that whatever can be thought can also be said. The domains of what can be thought and of what can be said are considered in set theoretic terms in order to determine whether one is contained in the other, so that everything we can think can also be adequately communicated. After thorough study of interpretative issues regarding the Principle of Expressibility and consideration of the most pressing potential counterexamples to the principle, we can conclude that we have good reason to believe in the truth of the Principle of Expressibility. In conclusion, the achieved results are related back to prominent positions in the discussion about thought and language which already make their appearance in the very beginning of this investigation. The final chapter of this dissertation reminds us that eminent figures in philosophy have often taken a wrongheaded perspective on the relation between language and thought, so that language has frequently appeared to be an impediment to thought. We can, however, confidently conclude that language, on the contrary, is by far our most apt means for thought and that reasoning would not even be possible without the resources language provides. [less ▲]

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See detailA Private Language Argument to elucidate the relation between mind and language
Fraissler, Hannes UL

in Unisinos Journal of Philosophy (2021, March 15), 22(1), 48-58

I will defend the claim that we need to differentiate between thinking and reasoning in order to make progress in understanding the intricate relation between language and mind. The distinction between ... [more ▼]

I will defend the claim that we need to differentiate between thinking and reasoning in order to make progress in understanding the intricate relation between language and mind. The distinction between thinking and reasoning will allow us to apply a structural equivalent of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Private Language Argument to the domain of mind and language. This argumentative strategy enables us to show that and how a certain subcategory of cognitive processes, namely reasoning, is constitutively dependent on language. The final outcome and claim of this paper can be summarized as follows: We can think without language, but we cannot reason without language. While this still leaves several questions about the relation between mind and language unanswered, I hold that the insights defended in this paper provide the basis and proper framework for further investigation about the relationship between language and the mind. [less ▲]

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See detailSchmidentity and Informativity
Fraissler, Hannes UL

in Synthese (2020)

Although Kripke’s œuvre has had a major impact on analytic philosophy and nearly every aspect of his studies has been thoroughly examined, this does not hold for his schmidentity argument, which, so far ... [more ▼]

Although Kripke’s œuvre has had a major impact on analytic philosophy and nearly every aspect of his studies has been thoroughly examined, this does not hold for his schmidentity argument, which, so far, has been widely neglected. To the extent to which it has been treated at all, it has been for the most part radically misunderstood. I hold that this argument, in its correctly reconstructed form, has general relevance for a treatment of Frege’s Puzzle and points towards a fundamental methodological restriction for philosophy of language and especially for semantics, as far as informativity and the general topic of cognitive significance are concerned. To show this, I will (Sect. 1) briefly set out the context of the schmidentity argument and, in Sects. 2 and 4, sketch a reconstruction thereof, including (Sect. 3) some criticisms of the argument, and (Sect. 6) an excursion about Kit Fine’s semantic relationism, which stands in stark contrast to this paper’s central claim. Moreover, I will (Sect. 5) draw a genuinely new and probably quite unexpected conclusion from all the above (amounting to the position that Frege’s Puzzle cannot be solved in terms of semantics), to finally (Sect. 7) give a glimpse at a bigger picture of where this conclusion should lead our thinking about a theoretical treatment of informativity and a linguistic expression’s cognitive value. [less ▲]

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See detailJohn Locke und wie man sich nicht vorstellt, eine andere Person zu sein
Fraissler, Hannes UL

in Meer, Rudolf; Motta, Giuseppe; Stiening, Gideon (Eds.) Konzepte der Einbildungskraft in der Philosophie, den Wissenschaften und den Künsten des 18. Jahrhunderts (2019)

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