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Language of thought

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-W020-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 24, 2024, from

Article Summary

The ‘language of thought’ is a formal language that is postulated to be encoded in the brains of intelligent creatures as a vehicle for their thought. It is an open question whether it resembles any ‘natural’ language spoken by anyone. Indeed, it could well be encoded in the brains of people who claim not to ‘think in words’, or even by intelligent creatures (for example, chimpanzees) incapable of speaking any language at all. Its chief function is to be a medium of representation over which the computations posited by cognitive psychologists are defined. Its language-like structure is thought to afford the best explanation of such facts about animals as the productivity, systematicity and (hyper-)intensionality of their thought, the promiscuity of their attitudes, and their ability to reason in familiar deductive, inductive and practical ways.

Citing this article:
Rey, Georges. Language of thought, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-W020-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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