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John Buridan$
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Gyula Klima

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195176223

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195176223.001.0001

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The Primacy of Mental Language

The Primacy of Mental Language

John Buridan

Gyula Klima (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The third chapter discusses how Buridan’s conception of mental language provides the grounding for the objectivity and universality of logic despite the radical conventionality of written and spoken languages. Buridan’s conception, since it is based on the Aristotelian idea of the uniformity of natural human capacities in all individual humans, is nothing like modern psychologism, the kind heavily criticized by Frege. Indeed, Buridan’s mental language is not a “private language” criticized by Wittgenstein. On Buridan’s conception, the naturally representative units of human mental language, namely, human concepts, are not inter-subjectively inaccessible private mental states; on the contrary, they are common to us all in our thinking. Of course, our concepts, being individual acts of individual minds are singular token-symbols, but they are common in their representational content: in what and how they represent for all humans. This is precisely the ground for their intersubjective accessibility as well as for the objectivity and universality of logic.

Keywords:   psychologism, mental language, private language, representational content

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