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new book – ‘Rethinking Language, Mind, and Meaning’ by Scott Soames

May 26, 2015

Rethinking Mind, Language, Meaning

Rethinking Language, Mind, and Meaning (Carl G. Hempel Lecture Series) by Scott Soames (Princeton University Press, 2015)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

In this book, Scott Soames argues that the revolution in the study of language and mind that has taken place since the late nineteenth century must be rethought. The central insight in the reigning tradition is that propositions are representational. To know the meaning of a sentence or the content of a belief requires knowing which things it represents as being which ways, and therefore knowing what the world must be like if it is to conform to how the sentence or belief represents it. These are truth conditions of the sentence or belief. But meanings and representational contents are not truth conditions, and there is more to propositions than representational content. In addition to imposing conditions the world must satisfy if it is to be true, a proposition may also impose conditions on minds that entertain it. The study of mind and language cannot advance further without a conception of propositions that allows them to have contents of both of these sorts. Soames provides it.

He does so by arguing that propositions are repeatable, purely representational cognitive acts or operations that represent the world as being a certain way, while requiring minds that perform them to satisfy certain cognitive conditions. Because they have these two types of content—one facing the world and one facing the mind—pairs of propositions can be representationally identical but cognitively distinct. Using this breakthrough, Soames offers new solutions to several of the most perplexing problems in the philosophy of language and mind.

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See also: Author’s webpage

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new book – ‘The Anthropology of Intentions: Language in a World of Others’ by Alessandro Duranti

January 18, 2015

The Anthropology of Intentions

The Anthropology of Intentions: Language in a World of Others by Alessandro Duranti (Cambridge University Press, 2015)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

How and to what extent do people take into account the intentions of others? Alessandro Duranti sets out to answer this question, showing that the role of intentions in human interaction is variable across cultures and contexts. Through careful analysis of data collected over three decades in US and Pacific societies, Duranti demonstrates that, in some communities, social actors avoid intentional discourse, focusing on the consequences of actions rather than on their alleged original goals. In other cases, he argues, people do speculate about their own intentions or guess the intentions of others, including in some societies where it was previously assumed they avoid doing so. To account for such variation, Duranti proposes an ‘intentional continuum’, a concept that draws from phenomenology and the detailed analysis of face-to-face interaction. A combination of new essays and classic re-evaluations, the book draws together findings from anthropology, linguistics and philosophy to offer a penetrating account of the role of intentions in defining human action.

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out in paperback – ‘How Authors’ Minds Make Stories’ (& 1 more) by Patrick Colm Hogan

December 22, 2014

How Authors' Mind Make Stories

How Authors’ Minds Make Stories by Patrick Colm Hogan (Cambridge University Press, 2014)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

This book explores how the creations of great authors result from the same operations as our everyday counterfactual and hypothetical imaginations, which cognitive scientists refer to as “simulations.” Drawing on detailed literary analyses as well as recent research in neuroscience and related fields, Patrick Colm Hogan develops a rigorous theory of the principles governing simulation that goes beyond any existing framework. He examines the functions and mechanisms of narrative imagination, with particular attention to the role of theory of mind, and relates this analysis to narrative universals. In the course of this theoretical discussion, Hogan explores works by Austen, Faulkner, Shakespeare, Racine, Brecht, Kafka, and Calvino. He pays particular attention to the principles and parameters defining an author’s narrative idiolect, examining the cognitive and emotional continuities that span an individual author’s body of work.

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Another newly issued paperback by the same author:

What Literature Teaches Us About Emotions

What Literature Teaches Us about Emotion by Patrick Colm Hogan (Cambridge University Press, 2014)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

Literature provides us with otherwise unavailable insights into the ways emotions are produced, experienced, and enacted in human social life. It is particularly valuable because it deepens our comprehension of the mutual relations between emotional response and ethical judgment. These are the central claims of Hogan’s study, which carefully examines a range of highly esteemed literary works in the context of current neurobiological, psychological, sociological, and other empirical research. In this work, he explains the value of literary study for a cognitive science of emotion and outlines the emotional organization of the human mind. He explores the emotions of romantic love, grief, mirth, guilt, shame, jealousy, attachment, compassion, and pity – in each case drawing on one work by Shakespeare and one or more works by writers from different historical periods or different cultural backgrounds, such as the eleventh-century Chinese poet Li Ch’ing-Chao and the contemporary Nigerian playwright Wole Soyinka.

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Amazon Deals in Books – $3.87 for ‘The Power of Metaphor: Examining Its Influence on Social Life’

December 5, 2014

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new book – ‘The Domestication of Language: Cultural Evolution and the Uniqueness of the Human Animal’ by Daniel Cloud

December 1, 2014

The Domestication of Language

The Domestication of Language: Cultural Evolution and the Uniqueness of the Human Animal by Daniel Cloud (Columbia University Press, 2014)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

Language did not evolve only in the distant past. Our shared understanding of the meanings of words is ever-changing, and we make conscious, rational decisions about which words to use and what to mean by them every day. Applying Darwin’s theory of “unconscious artificial selection” to the evolution of linguistic conventions, Daniel Cloud suggests a new, evolutionary explanation for the rich, complex, and continually reinvented meanings of our words.

The choice of which words to use and in which sense to use them is both a “selection event” and an intentional decision, making Darwin’s account of artificial selection a particularly compelling model of the evolution of words. After drawing an analogy between the theory of domestication offered by Darwin and the evolution of human languages and cultures, Cloud applies his analytical framework to the question of what makes humans unique, and how they became that way. He incorporates insights from David Lewis’s Convention, Brian Skyrms’s Signals, and Kim Sterelny’s Evolved Apprentice, all while emphasizing the role of deliberate human choice in the crafting of language over time. His clever and intuitive model casts humans’ cultural and linguistic evolution as an integrated, dynamic process, with results that reach into all corners of our private lives and public character.

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See also: Author’s homepage

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