What is it about?

Philosophers often claim that whereas the content of belief is conceptual and involves linguistic representations, the content of perception and other cognitive states is non-conceptual. Differences in the kind of content are generally explained by saying that whereas the representations underlying conceptual content are language-like, non-conceptual content involves iconic representations. Based on the case of map-like representations, we aim to criticize this dichotomy. We argue that, unlike sentences, maps obey a spatial isomorphism. Unlike icons, maps are composed of semantically arbitrary elements that play different syntactic roles and thus have conceptual content. Finally, we say that -despite their differences- maps and sentences can interact with each other in inferential processes. By these considerations, we want to challenge the view that conceptual content and inferential processes necessarily involve linguistic representations and develop a new perspective for thinking about maps and their logical relations with linguistic systems.

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Why is it important?

Our paper provides some cues to figure out how our different kinds of mental states might interact in rational ways.


We believe that an understanding of maps, sentences, pictures, and diagrams, focused on how they can relate to each other, contributes to a view of cognition where mental representational with different formats collaborate. Hence, it gives us an idea of how nonlinguistic thinking maybe like.

Mariela Aguilera

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Maps, Language, and the Conceptual–Non-Conceptual Distinction, Grazer Philosophische Studien, November 2020, Brill,
DOI: 10.1163/18756735-00000119.
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