Language as a Tool. An Insight From Cognitive Science

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Abstract

In this paper it has been argued that the theory of conceptual maps developed recently by Paul M. Churchland provides support for Wittgenstein’s claim that language is a tool for acting in the world. The role of language is to coordinate and shape the conceptual maps of the members of the given language community, reducing the cross-individual cognitive idiosyncrasies and paving the way for joint cognitive enterprises. Moreover, Churchland’s theory also explains our tendency to speak of language as consisting of concepts which correspond to things we encounter in the world. The puzzle of common sense reference is no longer a puzzle: while at the fundamental level language remains a tool for orchestrating conceptual maps, the fact that the maps encode some communally shared categorization of experience fuels our talk of concepts capturing the essences of things, natural kinds, prototypes, etc.

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