Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Language, philosophy: language is a set of phonetic or written coded forms fixed at a time for the exchange of information or distinctions within a community whose members are able to recognize and interpret these forms as signs or symbols. In a wider sense, language is also a sign system, which can be processed by machines. See also communication, language rules, meaning, meaning change, information, signs, symbols, words, sentences, syntax, semantics, grammar, pragmatics, translation, interpretation, radical interpretation, indeterminacy.
Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

Author Concept Summary/Quotes Sources

David Papineau on Language - Dictionary of Arguments

I 284
Purpose-means-thinking/language/animal/Papineau: (also as "Spandrille", side effect): Thesis: supposedly purpose-means-thinking emerged in a piggyback manner with language in the evolution.
, >Purposes, >Animals, >Animal language, >Thinking, >World/Thinking.
PapineauVs: there is a danger of circularity: the primary biological purpose of language could be to increase the supply of information, but this would not help if the purpose-means-thinking had not already been developed.
>Circular reasoning.
Papineau: language could also have developed first as an instrument for passing on information. E.g. "A tiger approaches".
I 285
Problem/Papineau: to explain the last step: what is the additional biological pressure that led to the language with which general information are reported?
A) If for the purpose of facilitating the purpose-means-thinking, then the purpose-means-thinking is not a side effect. It might have been language-dependent.
B) If, on the other hand, language developed the ability to represent and process general information on an independent basis, there are further problems:
1. Why should language be selected for reporting and processing at all?
2. Fundamental: If language is independent of the purpose-means-thinking, then we need a story about how this independent ability is subsequently expanded as a side effect for the purpose-means-thinking.
Cf. >Epiphenomenalism.
The point is that the purpose-means-thinking must exercise a behavioral control.
>Behavior, >Control mechanism, >Behavioral control, cf. >Self-regulation.
I 286
The ability for general information processing must be able to add something to the set of dispositions: E.g.: "From now on only fish instead of meat", E.g. "At the next mailbox I will post the letter".
Without this, the purpose-means-thinking makes no difference for our actions.
>Information processing, cf. >Problem solving.
I 286
Language/Purpose-Means-Thinking/Evolution/Papineau: Problem: how could a new way to change our behavior arise without a fundamental biological change? As a side effect? This is a pointless assumption. It must have brought the ability to develop new dispositions.
>Evolution, >Dispositions.
It is hard to imagine how this should have happened without biological selection.
I 287
But this is not yet an argument for a wholly separate mechanism for the purpose-means-thinking in the human brain.
Weaker: there could be some biological mechanism for the purpose-means-thinking, e.g. that the language has developed independently of the processing and reporting. Thereafter, further steps allow their outputs to influence the behavior.
Cf. >Strength of theories, >Stronger/weaker.
I 290
Language/Evolution/Generality/Papineau: previously I distinguished the language for special facts from one for general facts.
>Generality/Papineau, >Generalization.
Perhaps the former has developed for communication, and the latter for the purpose-means-thinking.
Or language for general facts has evolved under the co-evolutionary pressure of purpose-means-thinking and communication.
Presentation/figurative/Papineau: how could the results of the figurative representation gain the power to influence the already existing structures of the control of the action?
>Imagination, >Thinking without language.
I 291
Perhaps from imitation of complex action sequences of others.

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Papineau I
David Papineau
"The Evolution of Means-End Reasoning" in: D. Papineau: The Roots of Reason, Oxford 2003, pp. 83-129
Der Geist der Tiere, D Perler/M. Wild, Frankfurt/M. 2005

Papineau II
David Papineau
The antipathetic fallacy and the boundaries of consciousness
Bewusstein, Thomas Metzinger, Paderborn/München/Wien/Zürich 1996

Papineau III
D. Papineau
Thinking about Consciousness Oxford 2004

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