A User's Guide to Thought and Meaning by Ray Jackendoff, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
A User's Guide to Thought and Meaning

A User's Guide to Thought and Meaning

by Ray Jackendoff
     
 

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A User's Guide to Thought and Meaning presents a profound and arresting integration of the faculties of the mind - of how we think, speak, and see the world.

Ray Jackendoff starts out by looking at languages and what the meanings of words and sentences actually do. He shows that meanings are more adaptive and complicated than they're commonly given credit for,

Overview

A User's Guide to Thought and Meaning presents a profound and arresting integration of the faculties of the mind - of how we think, speak, and see the world.

Ray Jackendoff starts out by looking at languages and what the meanings of words and sentences actually do. He shows that meanings are more adaptive and complicated than they're commonly given credit for, and he is led to some basic questions: How do we perceive and act in the world? How do we talk about it? And how can the collection of neurons in the brain give rise to conscious experience? As it turns out, the organization of language, thought, and perception does not look much like the way we experience things, and only a small part of what the brain does is conscious. Jackendoff concludes that thought and meaning must be almost completely unconscious. What we experience as rational conscious thought - which we prize as setting us apart from the animals - in fact rides on a foundation of unconscious intuition. Rationality amounts to intuition enhanced by language.

Written with an informality that belies both the originality of its insights and the radical nature of its conclusions, A User's Guide to Thought and Meaning is the author's most important book since the groundbreaking Foundations of Language in 2002.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Jackendoff (Seth Merrin Professor of Philosophy, Tufts Univ.; Foundations of Language) works at the intersection of philosophy, linguistics, and cognitive science. This "user's guide" is intended as a popular account of how meaning relates to language. Meaning, Jackendoff contends, is largely unconscious. Language helps us clarify our thoughts, but it never enables what we are thinking to be brought entirely to the surface. Rationality also has its limits: reasoning takes place against a background of beliefs that are held intuitively. There is no single truth that makes sense of everything that we understand. Rather, we view matters from different perspectives that cannot be integrated into a harmonious picture. Jackendoff covers a wide range of topics, including free will, personal identity, the nature of language, what experience feels like, and visual and musical meaning. VERDICT This excellent book explains difficult topics accessibly. All readers interested in philosophy, from beginners to experienced professionals, will find it of value.—David Gordon, Bowling Green State Univ., OH
From the Publisher
"The greatest success of this book is that Jackendoff shows linguists and nonlinguists alike that while the conceptual perspectives are very important to what we do, there is certainly value to the ordinary perspective. As a bridge between practitioners and the general public, this book is extremely successful."— LinguistList

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199693207
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
03/02/2012
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
1,163,364
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Ray Jackendoff, Professor of Philosophy, Center for Cognitive Studies, Tufts University

Ray Jackendoff is Seth Merrin Professor of Philosophy and Co-Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. His books include Semantics and Cognition (MIT 1983), Consciousness and the Computational Mind (MIT 1987), The Architecture of the Language Faculty (MIT 1997), Foundations of Language (OUP 2002), Simpler Syntax (with Peter Culicover, OUP 2005), Language, Consciousness, Culture: Essays on Mental Structure (MIT 2007), and Meaning and the Lexicon: The Parallel Architecture, 1975-2010 (OUP, 2010). He is the 2014 recipient of the David E. Rumelhart Prize, the premier award in the field of cognitive science.

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