On the metaphysics of linguistics

Erkenntnis 65 (1):71-96 (2006)
Mind–body dualism has rarely been an issue in the generative study of mind; Chomsky himself has long claimed it to be incoherent and unformulable. We first present and defend this negative argument but then suggest that the generative enterprise may license a rather novel and internalist view of the mind and its place in nature, different from all of, (i) the commonly assumed functionalist metaphysics of generative linguistics, (ii) physicalism, and (iii) Chomsky’s negative stance. Our argument departs from the empirical observation that the linguistic mind gives rise to hierarchies of semantic complexity that we argue (only) follow from constraints of an essentially mathematical kind. We assume that the faculty of language tightly correlates with the mathematical capacity both formally and in evolution, the latter plausibly arising as an abstraction from the former, as a kind of specialized output. On this basis, and since the semantic hierarchies in question are mirrored in the syntactic complexity of the expression involved, we posit the existence of a higher-dimensional syntax structured on the model of the hierarchy of numbers, in order to explain the semantic facts in question. If so, syntax does not have a physicalist interpretation any more than the hierarchy of number-theoretic spaces does.
Keywords Dualism  Hierarchy  Linguistics  Metaphysics  Mind-body  Naturalism  Chomsky, Noam
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,707
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

View all 21 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

87 ( #38,329 of 1,726,249 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

7 ( #99,332 of 1,726,249 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.