Philosophy Colloquium 

Friday, February 15, 2019

3:00pm in Mackinac Hall BLL-110 (Basement)

Andrew Knoll (GVSU Philosophy Department)

How to Talk About Things You Haven’t Thought About: Natural Language and the Language of Thought




Chomsky’s internalist semantics for natural language, recently developed and defended by Paul Pietroski, argues that natural language semantics is best characterized without truth values. Under this view, the meanings of natural language constructions do not themselves have intentional content. Rather, natural language meanings are instructions to fetch concepts. These concepts themselves may have intentional content, but the natural language meanings themselves do not. This view of natural language semantics has interesting consequences when combined with the prevalent view that much thought takes place in the medium of natural language. Namely, the conjunction of these views entails that thinking that is carried out over natural language constructions does not have intentional content, and thus constitutes a kind of computation without representation. It follows from this claim that there are processes of reasoning that range over natural language constructions that are not about anything at all.

Questions? Contact Andrew Spear:



Page last modified February 13, 2019