Evolving the linguistic mind

Frankish, Keith (2010). Evolving the linguistic mind. Linguistic and Philosophical Investigations, 9 pp. 206–214.

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It is sometimes suggested that we can think “in” natural language. According to this “cognitive” conception of language, we have a linguistic mind, or level of mentality, which operates by manipulating representations of natural language sentences. This paper outlines two evolutionary questions that the cognitive conception must address and looks at some versions of it to see which provides the best answers to them. The most plausible version, I argue, is the view that the linguistic mind is a virtual system (a “supermind”), which arose when early humans learned to engage in private speech and to regulate it using metacognitive skills originally developed for use in public argumentation.

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