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ERIC Number: ED536053
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 92
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-2670-5012-0
Bound Cognition and Referential Uses of Language
Wulfemeyer, Julie Marie
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles
This work is an attempt to give a unified theory in response to two questions. The first question arises in the philosophy of mind: what is the mechanism by which we think of objects in the world? The second is a question in the philosophy of language: what is the mechanism by which we speak of them? These are questions that some have treated side-by-side. My project is instead to begin with the cognitive question in isolation before turning to the linguistic one. I first propose a theory of "bound cognition" according to which our cognitive connections to objects in the world are more like our perceptual ones than commonly supposed. Bound cognition, like perception, is world-to-mind in the sense that the relation between cognizer and cognized is initiated, so to speak, by the latter; the cognition is generated by the item being thought of rather than by the mind doing the thinking. In the opening chapters, I give readings of three thinkers in whom I see roots for the idea of bound cognition: Bertrand Russell, Keith Donnellan, and Charles Chastain. In Russell, we find the cognitive notion of "acquaintance," a relation between thinker and object that is direct, non-descriptive, and for which perception provides the paradigm. Donnellan's notion of "having-in-mind" shares at least the first two of these features, and Donnellan adds to this the idea that what is in the head of a speaker is a matter to be settled by causal history. Chastain's "knowledge of" is again a direct, non-descriptive form of cognition. In the final chapter, I advance the notion of bound cognition, emphasizing that it is a relation generated when worldly items impact the minds of thinkers by way of a certain kind of information channel. The information transmitted from worldly item to mind is truth-neutral in the sense that an object can bind the mind in this way independently of whether there is any true information transmitted about the object's features. I continue to use current visual perception of individuals as the paradigm for this relation, but I claim that a number of other relations fall under the heading of bound cognition as well. We are bound not only by individuals, but also, for example, by pluralities of individuals and features of individuals. We are bound to such items as well when we remember them, imagine them, and dream of them. Similarly, we are bound not only by items we currently see before us, but also by those that do not come to us quite so directly, as when we hear Elvis on the radio, or see Cleopatra in a hieroglyphic. There are those items as well that we do not see at all in the ordinary sense of the word, but that we are still able to cognize directly, as when we think of the dinosaurs by way of their fossils. The way in which it impacts us is instrumental to the cognitive relation; information transmission is required for the mechanism of cognition to work. But the manner of impact is a way for the object to bind the thinker, not a way for the thinker to represent the object. What is critical in all of these instances of bound cognition--what "makes" them bound--is that there is a sort of cognitive footprint left by the worldly item on the mind of the one who thinks of it. In addition, I make the parallel claim that any "linguistic" hold she might come to have on an object must also be grounded in its cognitive hold on her. I claim in particular that bound cognition is the key to linguistic reference; all linguistic reference is reference back to something to which a thinker is antecedently bound. I attempt to give a unified theory of cognition and language according to which one cannot refer to what one is not cognitively bound to, no matter what linguistic item he uses. And yet, on this view, one can refer to an object he is cognitively bound to regardless of the linguistic item he uses. The central claim here is that what, if anything, an individual is speaking of is a matter of what, if anything, she is thinking of. Late in the chapter, I address anticipated worries about abstract and empty cases--that is, cases where it seems we think of things from which we could not be receiving information, things that could not impact our cognitive systems in the way required for bound cognition. (Abstract shortened by UMI.) [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A