By workshop name

By presenter name


Monday 31 August 2015, plenary lecture room 1 : Lia Formigari , Empiricism and its opponents. Three case studies in the philosophy of language.

After a short introduction aimed at defining the notion of empiricism and its opposites, I will examine three different stages of the empiricism/rationalism controversy in language theory: i) Herder's criticism of Kant' notion of a priori (Metakritik zur Kritik der reinen Vernunft, 1799); ii) the debate on nativism in German philosophy at the end of the 19th century (Anton Marty vs Heymann Steinthal, Hermann Paul, Wilhelm Wundt); iii) the language instinct debate, started in the 1990s and still in progress. The debate's different phases, that are not related from a historical point of view, are a good example of how the same theoretical model (empiricism, in this case) and its opponents may occur, at different times and with different styles of thought, as the solution of a persisting problem (in this case, the one relating to the competences acting in the formation of speech)

Monday 31 August 2015, Workshop room 1 : Mind and Language : from Antiquity to the Classical Age.

Hugo David, In what sense is language the cause of thought? Around the notion of an “object” (artha) of speech in Medieval Indian philosophy

The notion of an “object” (artha) of speech is, for most theoreticians in Medieval India, the middle term existing between the linguistic sphere (speech, śabda) and the mental one (knowledge, jñāna). The most frequent way for these authors to conceptualize signification is to consider speech to be the cause of an original cognitive event in the hearer’s mind, “verbal knowledge” (śābdabodha), whose characteristic is to bear on an object which is not (or at least, not necessarily) in contact with the senses. For them, speech thus finds itself in a double relation of causality (kāraṇatā) with regard to thoughts and of intentionality (viṣayatā) with regard to objects situated out of the mind. But is it so evident that every unit of speech corresponds to an “object”? What is, for instance, the object of an interrogation, or an injunction? Do abstract terms have an object just as nouns do, or proper names? Does the notion of an “object” of speech remain unchanged when we consider mental speech? And what is, in this model, the role played by the concept? My presentation, which will rely on the reading of a certain number of original texts in translation, shall address the limits of this apparently simple (and in any case quite widely spread) model. By mobilising some of the critiques it had to face among Indian linguists and philosophers between the 5 th and 10 th centuries, I will try to evaluate the very relevance of the notion of an “object” of speech to account for the relation between language and thought.

Jean-Patrick Guillaume, The body, the mind and the speech. Some aspects of Jāḥiẓ’s conception of language

The Arabic humanist Jāḥiẓ (about 780-869) left, among other writings, the Kitāb al-Bayān wa-l-tabyīn (« The book of expression and clear exposition »), a vast survey of the art of oratory, where he expounds an original conception of language, quite different from that of the grammarians’. One of the interesting aspects of this conception is that it reflects an « archaic » representation of language, prior to the grammatization of Arabic. We shall endeavor, firstly, to reconstruct this representation, which appears closely linked to oral speech and gives a central position to the pragmatic aspect of language ; this analysis will be focused on the notion of “expression” (bayān), as a link between “meaning” (maˁnā), identified with the psychological intention of the speaker, and the linguistic “form” (lafẓ) by which this intention is made manifest. Secondly, we shall treat the way Jāḥiẓ reinterprets this conception, focusing on the importance hi gives to the body: the body as an obstacle to immediate communication of the speaker’s thoughts or needs; but also the body as a mediation through which the “expression” (bayān) gives these thoughts and needs their form and their efficacity.

Jean-Marie Fournier et Valérie Raby, Linguistic analyses and mental operations in the General Grammar.

Partie 2

General Grammar aims to relate the diversity of linguistic forms to mental operations as a universal order. Nevertheless, it is obvious for the authors of this movement that linguistic structures are not isomorphic with mental structures. Generality in grammar can clearly not be achieved without considering the constraints of linguistic communication and the diversity of languages. In this context, what kind of rational explanations of linguistic facts can be considered acceptable)? How effective is the statement « la connoissance de ce qui se passe dans nostre esprit, est necessaire pour comprendre les fondemens de la Grammaire » and what are its limits? Is it possible to draw up an inventory of the hypotheses presented by General Grammar in setting up the opposition between the specific properties of a given language and generality of thought processes? We will try to answer these questions by examining the way general grammars of the 17th and 18th centuries dealt with a number of key issues: impersonal constructions, relative clauses and determination, verbal tenses, sound units, modalities

Monday 31 August 2015, Workshop room 2 : From Sensualism to empirical psychology

Claudio Majolino, Phenomenologies and psychologies of sign (1830-1908)

Husserl’s first Logical Investigation famously introduces the distinction between expressions and indications. What is less known is that such a distinction belongs to the broader context of a discussion on the nature of signs inaugurated by Bolzano and pursued by Brentano and his students, Meinong, Höfler, Twardowski, Martinak and Marty. We will try to reconstruct some key tenets of this discussion and show their relevance for the debate about the epistemological status of semiotics.  

Didier Samain, Empirical Psychology and linguists’ semantics

Partie 2

From a historical point of view, empirical psychology can be looked on as a reaction against Idealism, getting back above Wolff to Locke’s and Berkeley’s sensualism, which however agrees with Kant on at least one point, that is giving a central role to the knowing subject’s activity. This aspect led Herbart to elaborate upon apperception, a notion that was yet in Kant. This notion and the correlative distinction between content and origin of representations (Vorstellungen) did not lead to a true experimental psychology but gave at least a sketch of how meanings and their linkings concretely appear and evolve. Even apart from the dominant position of Herbartianism after 1830, these conceptions fitted in well enough with the diachronical preoccupations, and elementarist methodology, of comparative grammar and gave thus an unmediate metalanguage to linguists, some fragments of which, such as that of distinctive feature, continued to exist a long time later. Yet all this had some consequences, the main one was a binding between representation and meaning (Bedeutung). This connection was instrumental in giving a semiotical orientation to semantics and put forth theoretical problems that proved very difficult to solve. Though scholars at the end of the century were aware that Vorstellung was not a good concept for theorizing signification, they hardly searched for actually existing alternative solutions. The logical realism originating in Bolzano, and developed in the “Austrian” philosophy, did not for instance stir great interest among the linguists of the time.

Tuesday 1 September 2015, plenary lecture room 1 : Willem J. M. Levelt, Sleeping beauties. What had to be reinvented in psycholinguistics.

Empirical psycholinguistics can pride itself on a rich, though largely forgotten history, which goes back to the end of the eighteenth century. In this lecture I will review a number of Sleeping Beauties in linguistics and psycholinguistics: discoveries, tools and theories that reawakened in modern psycholinguistics, after long periods of somnolence. I came across them when writing A History of Psycholinguistics (2013). Among them are Steinthal's theory of consciousness, Exner's cohort theory, Cattell's mental chronometry, Meringer's speech error based production theory, Wundt's phrase structure diagrams and sign language grammar and Bagley's incremental theory of word and sentence comprehension. Finally I will consider why all this brilliant work went into oblivion and raise the question whether our modern science is immune to wicked fairies.

Tuesday 1 September 2015, Workshop room 1 : Mind and Language : from Antiquity to the Classical Age (continued)

Jean-Louis Labarrière, Are Mind and Language occurred to the beasts in Antiquity ? From Aristotle to the controversy between the Stoics and the Neo-Academics

Partie 2

If the question of the « soul of beasts » was so discussed in Modern Philosophy after the hypothesis of the « Beast-Machine » by Descartes, it was also because Descartes, inspired by the Stoics, wished break radically with Aristotle, as did the Stoics themselves. Beyond this question, which is also a terrific problem of defintion – soul = life or soul = mind ? Or even Reason – as today the controversial notion of Animal Thinking, it is because it is in fact the question of the « proper » (idion) of Man. Do the other animals (ie that man : ta alla zôa, the usual expression of Aristotle) have a kind of communication by signs (semeia) ? Do some of them possess a kind of empirical-practical intelligence ? To these questions, the answer of Aristotle was affirmative, even if he denied continuously the logos to the other animals. Inversely, the Stoics have answered negatively : all in them is « mecanic ». Here is the origin of the long controversy with the Neo-Academics, by definition « skeptical » – « What do you know with certitude ? » ? Long after the debate was reactivated by some Neo-Platonicians, as Porphyrus. But during these centuries, the debate was moving from a scientific point of view to an apologetic one.

Laurent Cesalli, The role of the mental in medieval semantics

Partie 2

The two fundamental texts for medieval semantics—namely, the first chapter of Aristotle’s De interpretatione and the definition of the sign given by Augustine at the beginning of book II of his De doctrina christiana—offer an explanation of the semantic value of words (or, more generally, of signs), in which the mental plays a crucial role: spoken words are symbols of concepts (Aristotle), a sign is a thing which leads the one perceiving it to the cognition of something else (Augustine). In my talk, I shall investigate the (partially common) fate of those central ideas. On the basis of texts from the 12 th, 13 th, and 14 th centuries, I shall focus on the function assumed by the mental in the explanation (1) of the institution of words (i.e. their “imposition” on things), and (2) of what it means for a linguistic expression to mean (significare) something.

Martine Pécharman, From Mental Images to Language according to Hobbes

My aim is to show that the traditional organization (words/propositions/syllogisms) that Hobbes preserves for the presentation of his doctrine in logic presupposes a radical change from the tradition of Aristotle and Porphyry or Boethius. The very differentiation among mental operations in Hobbes depends strictly on the analysis of individual ideas, conceived as whole images composed of parts. After studying the dependence of reasoning in Hobbes on the decomposition and recomposition of mental images, I will insist on the need for establishing a rigorous distinction in Hobbes’s logico-linguistic doctrine between his conception of “mental discourse” and his conception of “language”, which for him should not be identified with an “interior language”.

Tuesday 1 September 2015, Workshop room 2 : Embodied language

Barbara Hemforth et P. Knöferle, Embodied language

This workshop introduces embodiment in language in a broad sense, including visually situated contexts, actions, and motor knowledge. A first session sets the scene for language processing research and introduces classic theories of language processing. It contrasts these language-centric theories with a context-based view of language whereby context includes aspects of the non-linguistic environment. Clearly, context matters for everyday communication. And yet, it has had relatively little impact on models of real-time sentence processing. We discuss potential reasons and introduce a view of psycholinguistics that firmly integrates (visual interrogation of objects and events in) the immediate environment. In a second part this contextual view is illustrated by means of several examples of empirical studies. A third part extends the notion of visual context as discussed in the first two parts towards include motoric aspects, touching on the topic of embodiment more narrowly defined. To which extent does language processing implicate motor representations and effectors? A final part approaches the topic of embodiment and language by analysing language use in action cinema (exemplified by Skyfall) and in dialogue-oriented films (exemplified by Sense and Sensibility). Overall, this workshop provides an introduction to diverse aspects of situatedness and their contribution to theories of language processin

Wednesday 2 September 2015, plenary lecture room 1, 10.00-11.00 : Jill de Villiers,

Wednesday 2 September 2015, plenary lecture room 1, 11.15-12.15 : Nick Riemer, Cognitive Linguistics – material history of an idealist doctrine

Set up without any serious basis in experimental psychology, the linguistic framework that takes its cue from Langacker and Lakoff nevertheless presents itself as a “cognitive” theory. How was this bold move achieved, and what ideological stakes might be involved in it? Developed during the heyday of American neoliberalism (1979: arrival of Volcker at the head of the Fed; 1980: election of Reagan and publication of Metaphors we live by), in a period when antiscientism was in the ascendant in American humanities, Cognitive Linguistics (CL) advances a confabulated model of individual psychology as the basis for understanding people’s most quintessentially social attribute, language. I will suggest several interpretations of how we might understand what is materially involved in this retreat into the mind, interrogating, among other things, the political work of George Lakoff. Lakoff’s political corpus, just as significant in scope as his work on linguistics, deserves to be approached from the point of view of the history of linguistics. As I will try to show, far from constituting an anomaly with respect to “pure” linguistic research, Lakoff’s political uses of cognitive linguistics suggest an interesting interpretation of the underlying tendencies of the CL tradition, in which questions of expertise – intellectual, disciplinary and political – and material concerns within and beyond the university take on key importance.

Thursday 3 September 2015, plenary lecture room 1 : Sylvain Auroux, Cognitive hypotheses in the language sciences : their necessity and limitations.

Partie 2

Language is meant to represent something, which leads to the idea that ontology or mental structure (when conceptualised independently of that of the world) can or must play an explanatory role in linguistic functioning. Several strategies which go in this direction will be presented, in particular in general grammar and in truth theory. This will allow their limits to be made clearly apparent, especially in their approach to syntactic dependency and recognition of ontological relativity.

Thursday 3 September 2015, Workshop room 1 : Language and Theory of Mind

Jill de Villiers and H. Pearson, Language of Mind and Theory of Mind: How do They Develop?

The workshop will have three major sections reflecting the range of contemporary work on the complementary relationships between language and Theory of Mind. The first focus will be the controversies over the difference between implicit and explicit Theory of Mind. What is it that infants can do, and does it involve the same representations of mind as for four year olds when they understand another's false belief? What is the evidence on the role of language and executive function in these developmental changes? In the second section, Linguistic work Language of the Mind will be the focus. Is complementation the key, or is recursion of sentences important? There are many aspects of language that involve perspective of point view - pronouns, spatial deixis, evidentials - do they all entail Theory of Mind? What about language variation- are there languages whose inventory of these forms reflects a different view of mind? Finally in this section, what is the relationship of the famous problems of referential opacity phenomena to mental representation? In the last section, consideration will be given to the cases of childhood developmental disorders and differences: how do the conditions of profound deafness and childhood autism illuminate the picture of how language and mind relate?

Stephanie Durrlemann-Tame, Linguistic Determinism and Autism Spectrum Disorders

The ability to attribute mental states to others and reason on the basis of this knowledge is referred to as Theory of Mind (ToM) and is known to be impaired in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Recent theories have identified links between ToM and language skills, in particular grammatical knowledge of sentential complements, with the hypothesis that this component of language may provide a tool for individuals with ASD for figuring out solutions to ToM tasks. However it has not yet been established that the role of complementation in ToM success is privileged, compared to that of such abilities as executive functioning (EF), nor that its impact carries over to instances where ToM is assessed nonverbally. In this talk, I will present 2 studies which test the contributory roles of complementation and executive functions on the performance of children with ASD on both verbal and nonverbal ToM tasks. The results show that complementation, unlike EF, correlates with ToM performance, and that this correlation persists when the ToM task is non-verbal, suggesting that mastery of sentential complements plays a privileged role in ToM reasoning in ASD. Clinical implications will be discussed.

Thursday 3 September 2015, Workshop room 2: Psychology of linguists/the linguistics of psychologists, at the turn of the 20th century.

Christian Puech, Psychologists’ linguistics/linguists’ psychology at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries

Partie 2

The antinaturalist turn in linguistics at the end of the nineteenth century is not easily describable. One of the reasons for this difficulty lies in the fact that linguists’ polemical recourse to psychology runs into a renewed interest by psychologists in language in general. What could be taken for a phenomenon of convergence paradoxically seems, more than anything else, to have been a cause of multiple mirror-image misunderstandings. To see this, we have to untangle a complex skein of criss-crossing references, mutual ignorance, and illusively homonymic vocabularies. We will try to extract various threads from this web, focussing the presentation on two questions: To what extent can Guillaumism be taken as a psycholinguistics? How did the psychopathology of language foster or, on the contrary, block its arrival on the scene?

P. Monneret, Psychomechanics of language – a psychological linguistics?

Partie 2

Gustave Guillaume’s first book, Le problème de l’article et sa solution dans la langue française [The problem of the article in French and its solution] was the object of a review which appeared in 1919 in the Journal des savants. Written by Louis Havet, this review began with the following words: “Linguists are usually historians; M. Guillaume is a psychologist-linguist”. We will ask, therefore, in what sense the psychomechanics of language can be considered as a psychological linguistics, enquiring into the status of the mental operations involved in the conceptual framework developed by this theory, which constitute its originality.

G. Bergounioux, Language clinic

Partie 2

At the end of the 19th century, pathological speech came to be seen as a window onto mechanisms of thought and the linguistic processes of its expression. From Baillarger to Ombredane, from aphasia to the mental clinic, it raised questions which have influenced the language sciences and which still require answers from them today.

Thursday 3 September 2015, plenary lecture room 1, 19:00-20:00 : Antonia Soulez, A conception of intentionality without representational content, impregnated with undenoted mind.

This title is suggested to me by the inclusive bracketed phrase in the programmatic title of François Récanati’s book Philosophy of language (and mind) (Vrin, 2011). After demonstrating what Recanati says he owes to Wittgenstein for a pragmatic semantics, I will try to show precisely how, in a way that escapes Recanati, Wittgenstein can be read as a certain  “philosopher of mind”, though he cannot openly avow it before the discipline as it is defined by its exponents.

Friday 4 September 2015, plenary lecture room 1 : David Caplan, Langage and the Representational Theory of Mind : Psychological and Neurological Considerations.

This talk reviews two contrasting views of representations and processes – the “symbolic-procedural” and “associationist” approaches – from psychological and neurological points of view. The first is presented psychologically through a description of the representational theory of mind, with a focus on the nature of representations of concepts and their relations in propositions. Both these topics are directly connected to aspects of language (words and sentences). The second is presented psychologically by a review of the areas in which it has had successes (interactions of factors in online processing of single items, especially in quasi-regular domains) and those where it has not (regular combinatorial processes). Neurologically, claims of the “associationist” approach that it is neutrally realistic are reviewed and the neural realism of this approach is questioned; conversely, one important feature of neural systems that is consistent with the “symbolic-procedural” approach (localist representations) is reviewed. It is concluded that both approaches are equally neutrally (un)realistic and that the choice between them currently depends on psychological considerations.

Friday 4 September 2015, Workshop room 1 : Neurolinguistics

David Caplan, Deficits in parsing and interpretation and their neural basis.

This talk presents data regarding the nature of deficits in syntactic comprehension in people with aphasia (PWA) due to vascular disease and the neural correlates of these deficits. The talk presents data from end-of-sentence observations (accuracy) and on-line measures (self paced listening times, eye fixations in the visual world paradigm, cross modal priming effects) to develop hypotheses about the deficits found in these PWA. It reviews deficit-lesion correlations based on studies in chronic and acute stroke, and using MRI and FDG PET imaging. It is concluded that available data are limited and inconsistent and do not converge on any models of the neural correlates of these deficits. Directions for further work are outlined.

Andrea Santi, the role of Broca’s area in syntactic processing

This class focuses on the role of Broca’s area in syntactic processing; a contentious topic in the neuroscience of language. We will focus on evidence from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in healthy participants. Some basic introduction to neuroimaging and neuroanatomy will be provided. Most of the class will be spent discussing some of the major theories (syntax, specific syntactic operation, memory mechanism) put forth and the evidence in support of them. We will end with some limitations to this area of study and future directions.

Friday 4 September 2015, Workshop room 2 : Criticism of mentalism

Jean-Michel Fortis, On the mentalism of cognitive linguistics: its intellectual background and crypto-philosophy

The first part of the talk is a sketch which retraces in broad strokes the history of mentalism in American linguistics, from Bloomfield to cognitive linguistics. The goal is to set the emergence of cognitive linguistics in its historical context. The second part attempts to characterize the positions which make up cognitive linguistics’ mentalism. These positions, it is claimed, reflect a kind of discourse which we describe as “crypto-philosophical” insofar as, though echoing philosophical views, they are not always clearly connected with these views. These positions involve the relation between perception and predicative structure, between signified and concept ; they also relate to the way cognitive linguistics deals with the question of universals and abstraction, and the problem of “objectivism” (in Lakoff’s parlance).

François Rastier, Subjectivation or objectification of meaning?

Mentalism has two sides, one, with phenomenology, psychologising and individualising, the other, with cognitive semantics neurologising and universalising. The dualist tradition which separates mental content and linguistic expression leads to major difficulties linked to the contradiction between the multiplicity of languages and the supposed unity of the human mind. In cognitive semantics, construction grammars have nevertheless reduced the traditional dualism and have thereby drawn closer to semiotics in the Saussurean tradition, which objectifies signifieds independently of mental representations. We will accordingly explore the hypothesis of semiotic environmental coupling, the objects of the coupling being neither purely internal nor purely external (in storing theory), but nevertheless endowed with an objective legality – which, for that matter, they share with all cultural objects.

Nick Riemer, Four ways to be antimentalist in semantics

This part of the workshop will explore various well-known critiques of classical mental representation, with particular reference to their implications for semantics. Beginning with an overview of four different ways in which the mentalist foundations of semantics can be put into question – materialist antipsychologism, anticognitivism, antirationalism and situated cognition – we will discuss the reasons for which antimentalism is often seen as an epistemological framework that respects the methodological constraints of empirical research. We will then review Chomsky’s defence of mentalism in the face of Skinner and Quine. In the process we will have the occasion to connect questions about scientific realism with reflections of more general import on the epistemological bases and explanatory purposes of linguistic research.


Online user: 1