The language of thought as a logically perfect language

In Vincenzo Idone Cassone, Jenny Ponzo & Mattia Thibault (eds.), Languagescapes. Ancient and Artificial Languages in Today's Culture. pp. 159-168 (2020)
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Between the end of the nineteenth century and the first twenty years of the twentieth century, stimulated by the impetuous development of logical studies and taking inspiration from Leibniz's idea of a characteristica universalis, the three founding fathers of the analytic tradition in philosophy, i.e., Frege, Russell, and Wittgenstein, started to talk of a logically perfect language, as opposed to natural languages, all feeling that the latter were inadequate to their (different) philosophical purposes. In the second half of the twentieth century, however, the very idea of a logically perfect language ceased for various reasons to seem attractive to analytic philosophers. Thus, it might appear that this idea could be classified together with the many other bizarre ideas that from time to time surface in the history of philosophy-an idea that perhaps had a beneficial impact on the development of twentieth century logic, but which can now be put to rest. In this brief note, I contend that this conclusion may be too hasty. Indeed, if a well-known empirical hypothesis advanced in 1975 by Jerry Fodor turns out to be true, then there is a logically perfect language, after all. More precisely, I argue that, if it exists, Fodor's language of thought possesses the main characteristics a logically perfect language is required to have.

Author's Profile

Andrea Bianchi
University of Parma


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