Language and the (Dis)organization of Mind


Language and the (Dis)organization of Mind

September 17, 2016
3pm – 5pm
Temple University Center City Campus, Room 322
15th and Market Streets


Speaker:
Wolfram Hinzen (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, FIDMAG Germanes Hospitalaries Research Foundation, and Universitat de Barcelona) Paper Title: "Reference across Pathologies: A New Linguistic Lens on Disorders of Thought" Abstract:
According to a linguistic tradition identified here as ‘Cartesian’, thought is independent of language. Rather than representing the configurator of a human-specific mind, language is relegated to an expressive system dedicated to the communication of an independently constituted thought process. Pursuing an alternative ‘un-Cartesian’ vision here, which regards human-specific thought and language as intrinsically linked, I review clinical language patterns in two populations with major cognitive disorders, autism spectrum conditions and schizophrenia, with a view to how language might illuminate psychopathology and vice versa. One universal linguistic function is reference: we cannot utter sentences without referring to persons, objects, and events, based on lexicalized concepts that provide descriptions of these referents. Reference in this sense takes a number of human-specific forms that systematically co-vary with forms of grammatical organization. It also proves to be highly vulnerable across major cognitive disorders. Grammar is thereby correlated with a central cognitive function that mediates forms of thought and selfhood critical to rational health. In this way, clinical linguistic and cognitive diversity provides a new window into the foundational question of the thought-language relationship and the cognitive significance of grammar. For more information contact David Wolfsdorf: dwolfsdo@temple.edu