A User's Guide to Thought and Meaning
Oxford University Press, 2015 - Psychology - 274 pages
Hailed as a "masterpiece" (Nature) and as "the most important book in the sciences of language to have appeared in many years" (Steven Pinker), Ray Jackendoff's Foundations of Language was widely acclaimed as a landmark work of scholarship that radically overturned our understanding of how language, the brain, and perception intermesh.
A User's Guide to Thought and Meaning is Jackendoff's most important book since his groundbreaking Foundations of Language. Written with an informality that belies the originality of its insights, it presents a radical new account of the relation between language, meaning, rationality, perception, consciousness, and thought, and, extraordinarily, does this in terms a non-specialist will grasp with ease. Jackendoff starts out by looking at languages and what the meanings of words and sentences actually do. Finding meanings to be more adaptive and complicated than they're commonly given credit for, 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? He shows that the organization of language, thought, and perception does not look much like the way we experience things, and that only a small part of what the brain does is conscious. He concludes that
Ray Jackendoff's profound and arresting account will appeal to everyone interested in the workings of the mind, in how language links to the world, and in what understanding these means for the way we experience our lives.
Acclaim for Foundations of Language:
"A book that deserves to be read and reread by anyone seriously interested in the state of the art of research on language."
"A dazzling combination of theory-building and factual integration. The result is a compelling new view of language and its place in the natural world."
"A masterpiece. . . . The book deserves to be the reference point for all future theorizing about the language faculty and its interconnections."
"This book has the potential to reorient linguistics more decisively than any book since Syntactic Structures shook the discipline almost half a century ago."
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - fpagan - LibraryThing
A relatively short and simple presentation of what the author assures us could have been a dense 1000-page treatise. According to him: the semantics component of the human language faculty lies below ... Read full review