Inner Speech

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2023)
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Inner speech is known as the “little voice in the head” or “thinking in words.” It attracts philosophical attention in part because it is a phenomenon where several topics of perennial interest intersect: language, consciousness, thought, imagery, communication, imagination, and self-knowledge all appear to connect in some way or other to the little voice in the head. Specific questions about inner speech that have exercised philosophers include its similarities to, and differences from, outer speech; its relationship to reasoning and conceptual thought; its broader cognitive roles—especially within metacognition and self-knowledge; and the role it can play in explanations of auditory verbal hallucinations and “thought insertion”.



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Peter Langland-Hassan
University of Cincinnati
Daniel Gregory
University of Salzburg

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