Research Group
in Analytic Philosophy

The Best Game In Town: The Re-Emergence of the Language of Thought Hypothesis Across the Cognitive Sciences

    Eric Mandelbaum (CUNY)

Date: 03 November 2021

Time: 15:00

Place: Online


The Language of Thought Hypothesis is liable to evoke memories of the previous century: foundational discussions about the structure of thought in the 1970s, the rise of connectionism in the 1980s, debates about systematicity and productivity in the 1990s. Now, well into the 21st century, it might seem that LoTH is a relic, like Freud’s tripartite cognitive architecture or Skinnerian behaviorism—a topic of considerable historical interest, but no longer at the center of scientific or philosophical inquiry into the mind. I will argue for the opposite view. The case for the LoTH has actually gotten considerably stronger over time. The chief aim of this paper is to showcase LoTH’s explanatory breadth and power in light of recent developments in cognitive science. Computational cognitive science, evolutionary and developmental psychology, social psychology, and perceptual psychology have all advanced independently, yet evidence from these disparate fields all points to the same overall picture: contemporary cognitive science presupposes the language of thought.