Inner Speech, Natural Language, and the Modularity of the Mind

Kairos 14:7-29 (2015)

Axel Gelfert
Technische Universität Berlin
Inner speech is a pervasive feature of our conscious mental lives. Yet its function and character remain an issue of philosophical debate. The present paper focuses on the relation between inner speech and natural language and on the cognitive functions that various contributors have ascribed to inner speech. In particular, it is argued that inner speech does not consist of bare, context-free internal presentations of sentential (or subsentential) content, but rather has an ineliminably perspectival element. The proposed model of inner speech, which characterizes inner speech as akin to the testimony of an inner interlocutor, accounts for this perspectival element and, it is argued, is explanatorily superior, insofar as it better explains, amongst other phenomena, the often condensed character of inner speech.
Keywords inner speech  natural language  modularity  inference  cognition
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