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What the…!' The role of inner speech in conscious thought

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Introspection reveals that one is frequently conscious of some form of inner speech, which may appear either in a condensed or expanded form. It has been claimed that this speech reflects the way in which language is involved in conscious thought, fulfilling a number of cognitive functions. We criticize three theories that address this issue: Bermúdez's view of language as a generator of second-order thoughts, Prinz's development of Jackendoff's intermediate-level theory of consciousness, and Carruthers's theory of inner speech as a rehearsal of action- schemata. We contend they have problems to account for those cases in which inner speech is fragmentary, and for the difference with those instances in which it appears as more sentence-like. In addition, we present verbal overshadowing as a phenomenon that neither of them can easily explain. Finally, we propose an account in which inner speech is fundamentally silent outer speech and argue that it is more explanatory than the alternatives.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Dpto. Filosofía I, University of Granada, 18071 Granada (Spain), Email: [email protected] 2: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 01 January 2010

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