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Ignorance of Language$
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Michael Devitt

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199250967

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0199250960.001.0001

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Thought Before Language

Thought Before Language

(p.125) 8 Thought Before Language
Ignorance of Language

Michael Devitt (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Starting from the appealing folk idea that “language expresses thought”, this chapter argues that the psychological reality of language should be investigated from a perspective on thought. The idea also leads to the view that conceptual competence partly constitutes linguistic competence, and so is ontologically prior to it. Following Grice, and despite the claims of linguistic relativity, the chapter argues that thought is explanatorily prior to language. These ontological and explanatory priorities have some interesting temporal consequences. Based on these priorities, it is argued that our theoretical interest in thought is prior to that in language.

Keywords:   thought, conceptual competence, linguistic competence, psychological reality, ontological priority, Grice, explanatory priority, linguistic relativity, temporal priorities

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