Beyond Language: How the Mind Represents the World


ACLS Fellowship Program




Human beings think and reason. Humans are, as Aristotle famously remarked, rational animals. Humans are also language users who utter and interpret sentences. Putting these two observations together has led philosophers to treat thoughts as mental sentences. Though widely accepted, this linguistic model of thought faces a significant problem. It struggles to accommodate nonhuman animals, which are too intelligent to lack thoughts altogether yet too different from humans to possess sentence-like thoughts. Drawing on work from the cognitive sciences, this project develops a philosophical account of nonlinguistic thought that enhances an understanding of nonhuman animals while reorienting an understanding of human uniqueness.