This article supports a reading of the “Stream of Thought” chapter in The Principles of Psychology according to which James was not formulating an idea of linguistic meanings as private feelings occurring within the speaker’s mind, but rather criticizing the habit of basically considering language an association of names, because of the misleading consequence of this assumption for our understanding of thought as primarily resulting from the sum of its discrete parts. James was suggesting the possibility of adopting a different approach to language by considering its continuous, relational or transitive aspects, instead of focusing exclusively on substantive elements. He seems to be inviting his readers to adopt an attitude towards language complementing his own holistic view of thought as continuous and involving relations. The author explores the claim that James was considering two different attitudes towards language (GAVIN, 1992, p. 69): a more critical approach and a disposition that is attentive to the dynamic, contextual and embodied shaping of the meaning of words. This reading is based on and further develops the idea that The Principles had a positive influence on Wittgenstein, rather than a merely critical one—an interpretation supported by a group of recent scholars (BONCOMPAGNI, 2012a, 2012b; GOODMAN, 2002; JACKMAN, 2006, 20017; and SANFELIX-VIDARTE, 2016).

James on the stream of language: with some remarks on his influence on Wittgenstein

Dreon, Roberta
2020

Abstract

This article supports a reading of the “Stream of Thought” chapter in The Principles of Psychology according to which James was not formulating an idea of linguistic meanings as private feelings occurring within the speaker’s mind, but rather criticizing the habit of basically considering language an association of names, because of the misleading consequence of this assumption for our understanding of thought as primarily resulting from the sum of its discrete parts. James was suggesting the possibility of adopting a different approach to language by considering its continuous, relational or transitive aspects, instead of focusing exclusively on substantive elements. He seems to be inviting his readers to adopt an attitude towards language complementing his own holistic view of thought as continuous and involving relations. The author explores the claim that James was considering two different attitudes towards language (GAVIN, 1992, p. 69): a more critical approach and a disposition that is attentive to the dynamic, contextual and embodied shaping of the meaning of words. This reading is based on and further develops the idea that The Principles had a positive influence on Wittgenstein, rather than a merely critical one—an interpretation supported by a group of recent scholars (BONCOMPAGNI, 2012a, 2012b; GOODMAN, 2002; JACKMAN, 2006, 20017; and SANFELIX-VIDARTE, 2016).
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/10278/3728918
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