ISBN : 9780199693207
A User's Guide to Thought and Meaning presents a profound and arresting integration of the faculties of the mind - of how we think, speak, and see the world. Ray Jackendoff starts out by looking at languages and what the meanings of words and sentences actually do. He shows that meanings are more adaptive and complicated than they're commonly given credit for, and he is led to some basic questions: How do we perceive and act in the world? How do we talk about it? And how can the collection of neurons in the brain give rise to conscious experience? As it turns out, the organization of language, thought, and perception does not look much like the way we experience things, and only a small part of what the brain does is conscious. Jackendoff concludes that thought and meaning must be almost completely unconscious. What we experience as rational conscious thought - which we prize as setting us apart from the animals - in fact rides on a foundation of unconscious intuition. Rationality amounts to intuition enhanced by language. Written with an informality that belies both the originality of its insights and the radical nature of its conclusions, A User's Guide to Thought and Meaning is the author's most important book since the groundbreaking Foundations of Language in 2002.
1. Why do we need a User's Guide to thought and meaning?
PART ONE: LANGUAGE, WORDS, AND MEANING
2. What's a language?
3. Perspectives on English
4. Perspectives on sunsets, tigers, and puddles
5. What's a word?
6. What counts as the same word?
7. Some uses of mean and meaning
8. "Objective" and "subjective" meaning
9. What do meanings have to be able to do?
10. Meanings can't be visual images
11. Word meanings aren't cut and dried
12. Not all the meaning is in the words
13. Meanings, concepts, and thoughts
14. Does your language determine your thought?
PART TWO: CONSCIOUSNESS AND PERCEPTION
15. What's it like to be thinking?
16. Some phenomena that test the Unconscious Meaning Hypothesis
17. Conscious and unconscious
18. What does "What is consciousness?" mean?
19. Three cognitive correlates of conscious thought
20. Some prestigious theories of consciousness
21. What's it like to see things?
22. Two components of thought and meaning
23. See something as a fork
24. Other modalities of spatial perception
25. How do we see the world as "out there"?
26. Other "feels" in experience
PART THREE: REFERENCE, TRUTH, AND THOUGHT
27. How do we use language to talk about the world?
28. Mismatching reference in conversation
29. What kinds of things can we refer to? (Cognitive metaphysics, Lesson 1)
30. Referential files for pictures and thoughts
31. What's truth?
32. Problems for an ordinary perspective on truth
33. What's it like to judge a sentence true?
34. Noticing something's wrong
35. What's it like to be thinking rationally?
36. How much rational thinking do we actually do?
37. How rational thinking helps
38. Chamber music
39. Rational thinking as a craft
40. Some pitfalls of apparently rational thinking
PART IV: A LARGER VIEW
41. Some speculation on science and the arts
42. Ordinary and cognitive perspectives on morality
43. Ordinary and cognitive perspectives on religion
44. Learning to live with multiple perspectives