Do we think in natural language? Or is language only for communication? Much recent work in philosophy and cognitive science assumes the latter. In contrast, Peter Carruthers argues that much of human conscious thinking is conducted in the medium of natural language sentences. However, this does not commit him to any sort of Whorfian linguistic relativism, and the view is developed within a framework that is broadly nativist and modularist. His study will be essential reading for all those interested in the nature and significance of natural language, whether they come from philosophy, psychology or linguistics.
Preface; Introduction; 1. The geography of the issues; 2. Which language do we think with? 3. Thought-based semantics; 4. Holism and language; 5. First steps towards a theory of consciousness; 6. Second (-order) steps towards a theory of consciousness; 7. A reflexive thinking theory of consciousness; 8. The involvement of language in conscious thinking; Conclusion; References; Index.
"...an original and imaginative thesis that successfully challenges alternative, more dominant conceptions of the relation between thought and language and of the nature of consciousness. This book will provoke much thought in anyone who is interested in these issues." The Review of Metaphysics
"The argument is presented with convincing force and clarity, making this a work that all philosophers, cognitive scientists, and linguists working in the field must read." Choice
"...succeeds in articulating a fertile alternative program worthy of further development. The book is ambitious, well written...." Greg Jarrett, The Philosophical Review