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Integr Psychol Behav Sci. 2016 Mar;50(1):62-76. doi: 10.1007/s12124-015-9315-5.

Semantic Borders and Incomplete Understanding.

Author information

1
Universidade Federal da Bahia, CNPq, Brazil, Rua Rodrigo Argollo 251/501 Rio Vermelho, Salvador, Bahia, 41940220, Brazil. wjsf.ufba@gmail.com.
2
Universidade Federal da Bahia, CNPq, Brazil, Rua Rodrigo Argollo 251/501 Rio Vermelho, Salvador, Bahia, 41940220, Brazil. dazzani@superig.com.br.

Abstract

In this article, we explore a fundamental issue of Cultural Psychology, that is our "capacity to make meaning", by investigating a thesis from contemporary philosophical semantics, namely, that there is a decisive relationship between language and rationality. Many philosophers think that for a person to be described as a rational agent he must understand the semantic content and meaning of the words he uses to express his intentional mental states, e.g., his beliefs and thoughts. Our argument seeks to investigate the thesis developed by Tyler Burge, according to which our mastery or understanding of the semantic content of the terms which form our beliefs and thoughts is an "incomplete understanding". To do this, we discuss, on the one hand, the general lines of anti-individualism or semantic externalism and, on the other, criticisms of the Burgean notion of incomplete understanding - one radical and the other moderate. We defend our understanding that the content of our beliefs must be described in the light of the limits and natural contingencies of our cognitive capacities and the normative nature of our rationality. At heart, anti-individualism leads us to think about the fact that we are social creatures, living in contingent situations, with important, but limited, cognitive capacities, and that we receive the main, and most important, portion of our knowledge simply from what others tell us. Finally, we conclude that this discussion may contribute to the current debate about the notion of borders.

KEYWORDS:

Border; Incomplete understanding; Meaning; Semantic borders

PMID:
26111737
DOI:
10.1007/s12124-015-9315-5
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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