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Animals I'm almost always dealing with generals not individuals with the knowledge of the individual is I think probably limited to very few individuals in the animals media environment particularly among those animals of the social or domesticated. Now it is conceded that concepts if thing exist and however they are formed are never individualized apprehensions but are always generalized apprehensions. They are apprehensions of objects as of this of that kind not of as this or that individual. There is no concept of an individual thing with these premises. The psychologist then unwittingly engage in the following bit of reasoning. A major premise. Concepts are generalized apprehensions. Minor premise. Animals have generalized apprehensions in the form of abstract perceptual abstractions. Conclusion. Hence animals have concepts and they want to know elementary logic. Now that this inference is patiently fallacious
and the conclusion invalidly reached the blackboard I get put the syllogistic arrow down very very quickly. But you can hear it you can hear it. Seeing the diagram in addition it involves the erroneous supposition that all generalized apprehensions are the same where the perceptual or conceptual. And this is in consequence of an equivocal use of the word abstraction where the just as it is a slippery piece of reasoning there. We have seen. What theoretical constructs are and are not needed to explain the behavior of non linguistic animals. Now the question is what theoretical constructs are needed to explain linguistic behavior in men. First let me make two preliminary remarks. Let me explain what I mean by methodological behaviors. It's as old as the Greeks.
Methodological behaviorism understood most generally applies to our knowledge of energy bodies and our knowledge of plants as well as to our knowledge of animals and of men. It is a general principle of method that governs all our inferences to the existence of properties powers abilities habits are this positions none of which can be objectively observed from objectively observed behavior in the form of actions or operations. In other words objectively observed behavior is the couse our cognition. The cause of knowing on observable properties powers or dispositions. In the case of energy bodies plants and non-human animals. No other way of knowing their properties powers or dispositions is possible. The only way to proceed is behaviors in the case of man introspective or subjective observation is possible. I can observe what's going on privately inside of me that are inside my own
experience my private experience but the principle of methodological behaviorism excludes And I think quite properly excludes all such evidence as unreliable or at least as insufficient and requires us to proceed just as we do in the case of inner bodies in plants by means of objectively observed behavior actions or operations. Though in the case of male methodological behavior behaviors and excludes the introspective report of mental states or activities as a basis of inference to the existence of certain logic certain psychological powers. It does not exclude linguistic behavior which is directly observable as a basis for inferring unobserved powers and acts for linguistic behavior is observable as the motion of my arms and legs. Although we think of Maya in what follows. I am going to proceed as a methodological behaviorist the fact that I do not think metaphysical behaviorism is thereby necessarily entailed.
Does not make me any the less a methodological behaviorist. The other preliminary point I wish to make is that the analysis of linguistic behavior which follows is by no means a complete or exhaustive account of human language or of all the types of signifiers and all the modes of significant Asian. It is restricted to the one distinction needed for the present purpose. When I referred to before that between signals and designate is let me now try to explain carefully in some detail of the distinction between signals and designating these in human behavior. I shall refer to animal behavior as well for signals operate there. That is examined in human behavior. Some obvious examples of signals and signaling in order to define precisely this type of signifier and this mode of signifying consider such things as clouds signifying rain and the darkened landscape in daytime
through signifying clouds indirectly signifying rain or smoke signifying fire. A railroad sound of fog signifying an unseen train ahead or a curved line on the highway plaque signifying an unseen curve ahead. In the first set of examples clouds rain smoke fire. We have one natural object perceived signifying another natural object unperceived let us call these signals natural cycles. Men learn their Its significance from experience in which the thing signified is related to the signifier either in a causal sequence or by similarity. In the second set of examples we have human we invented signals perceived signifying and perceived objects. Let us call these signals these invented ones. Conventional signals men also learn the significance we experience with respect to both natural and conventional signals.
She pointed out that men can learn their significance by verbal instruction by being told what clouds mean rain. Smoke means Fuck the Rays and of our means of trying to have the motive signifying operated here remains exactly the same whether the meaning of the signal is learned from experience or by instruction. In addition to the perceived signals in the foregoing examples men also make signals through their own behavior some natural some conventional natural as when an involuntary blush signifies embarrassment or an explosion of sound signifies anger. Conventional as when a contrived involuntary gesture comes Bice custom to signify impatience or displeasure as scent or dissent. These perceived signals of all sorts both are naturally conventional not only signify unperceived objects or happenings but they may also elicit actions with respect to the unperceived things they signify. Thus the cloud signifying rain may elicit the action of carrying an umbrella.
The railroad Center for the action of stopping the train the explosive rod the action of withdraw the gesture of impatience the action by the action of hurrying up. Contrary to an erroneous supposition that is widely prevalent the actions that some have elicited the actions called out by the signals on not integral constituent parts of the meaning of the signal but only adventitious consequences of the meaning clouds signify rang in the same way for those who do and do not carry umbrellas when they see clouds and read the signal as meaning rain. The same point been made for all the other examples of signalling. It is of the utmost importance to recognize that the action taken is something that follows the interpretation of a signal and therefore falls outside that interpretation. It is moreover contingent. It may or may not happen. The fact that we sometimes infer a person's interpretation of a signal from the actually performs when it is interpreted it does not all the word has been said. We often make
mistakes in such inferences precisely because a person's behavior is itself an unreliable signal of his interpretation of the understanding of signals. We are now ready for a definition of a motive signification that relates signals to the things they signify. The easiest way to do this is to see if the relation between the signal and thing signified is like the relation between hypothesis and consequent. In ordinary if then implication is to interpret clouds as signifying rain is to understand that clouds imply rain or even if clouds then rain. The same holds for all the other examples. If a ray is some a fool then a train ahead. If an explosive roll then angle for gravity of reference in what follows I shall speak of the significance of signals as
implicated meaning to say that the pussys signal X signifies a means the unperceived object Y is equivalent to saying if x then walk. Now let's examine examined some obvious examples of designators and designating in order to define this of A and distinct type of signify and its motive signify signifying. I must begin by calling attention to the fact that none of the examples to be given of designators are natural things like clouds or smoke. A plus for embarrassment or the roar of anger. They are all there are no natural designators all designate is a conventional instituted made up invented or somehow contrived by men. The reason why this is some will will not become clear until we understand how designated signify the things they designate. The only examples we need illustrate two different types of conventional designators words
functioning as names and not as a jack relations outcries or commands are one type of designating the other but a non-verbal type of designated consists of icons such as the striped pole in front of the barber shop the figure of a man on the door of a laboratory laboratory reserved for men. Consideration of these non-verbal designators helps us to see at once the designators can function in the same way that signals do to elicit appropriate actions. The icon on the lavatory doe not only designates the character of the room that lies behind the dog but also usually Lissie elicits one sort of action from men and other from women. Though they act opposite way those men and women interpret the icon in the same way. If they did not they would not act in opposite ways. Hence we see here as in the case of signal that the action elicited that the action elicited is not a considered part of the meaning
but only a contingent and variable consequence up. What is true of non-verbal designators also holds for names or verbal designators the actions they may or may not Alyssa. I'm no part of the designated significance. When I distinguished a moment ago between words used as names and words used as a jack elation or commands I not only wanted to point out that words are not always used as designators but also the point out that words can sometimes be used as signals. The word dinner called out in a loud voice may sometimes function in the same way as ringing the bell. And the word danger may function as does the flashing red light. When they do function this way These words have implicate of meaning. But unlike the dinner bell and unlike the flashing red light which have no designated meeting the words Denah and danger derive their implicated meaning from their designated meeting. If the word danger did not in the first place designate a
syntax situation the perceived word danger could not signal like the flashing red light. The unperceived situation to which we usually but not always react with the vitals in the shot. Naming words naming words are primarily designators and only occasionally and secondarily are they signals and then only by virtue of their designated meeting. With all this said I can now try to define the motive signification that relates designators to the things they designate and for this purpose. I'm going to consider only verbal designators and among verbal designators. I'm going to confine my attention to nouns used as comma not general names for our purpose. We need consider only the simplest cases of naming a kind of naming that occurs in a two year old infant just as in the case of signal. The logical relation of implication help us to
define the relation being the signal and the thing it signifies. So here the logical relation of the notation helps us to define the relation between the designator and the thing it signifies the denotation. What a term denotes the denotation of the term is an object attended to a thing and event or an action or a kind or class of things of vents or actions. And in contrast the connotation of a term is one of more of the Turners the denotation of a term varies with its connotation. Words as designated as have a dean notated motor signification bringing to attention the objects they designate either a class of entities or a particular instance of a class the objects they call to mind or to attention may be perceptible or imperceptible. They may exist or not exist one. One contrast will suffice to illustrate the radical difference between the implication of meaning of signals and the DE
notated meaning of designating the perceived and existent clouds clouds there in the heavens signal the unperceived and as yet non-existent rain. The word cloud cloud in quotation marks designates clouds perceived and not to see existent and none exist. Let's ponder that one case. How clouds signify rain and how the word cloud signifies clouds and yet all the difference between signals and designates. We're now ready for analysis of the claim that nonverbal symbols function in the behavior of non linguistic gamma rays. This claim is made by most of the psychologists we have review was good hollow head Nissen last LIPA Erik and many others and it is closely connected with the claim that there is conceptual abstraction or concept formation in nonlinguistic
animals and making this claim. The psychologists are as equivocal in the use of their use of the word symbol as they are in their use of the words abstraction and concept. What they mean by a perfectly clear from looking at the behavior they describe what they mean by a non-verbal signal is a signal. And this is as different from a variable symbol a designated as the generalized apprehensions that our perceptual abstractions. I define the generalized apprehensions that are abstract concepts. All the experimental work done on animals and especially the work on conditioned responses and on the learning of cues affords us descriptions of behavior in which signals are operating. Some of the operative signals are under learned cue such as the smell that means food to the animal or the growl of one animal. That means the imminence of attack to another animal. Some of the operated signals I learned Q Such as the conditions demurely require the significance of the unload unlearnt cues which they are associated by car to get or
learned or unlearned. Hues are stimulated functioning as signals perceived objects that signify unseen things or events to which the animal may or may not start to react before they are perceived. These perceptions are usually generalized apprehensions or perceptual abstractions and this suffices to explain the character of these cues and their operation is explained by the mechanism of conditioned and unconditioned responses. If all the sense that the psychologist mean by non-verbal symbols in animal behavior is the functioning of perceived cues as signals then two things fall first in the light of the evidence there is good reason to think that signals do not function animal behavior as they do in human behavior. And second even if they operate in the same way in human and human animal behavior even if they do involve meaning they do not function as designators and so the mode of signifying does not require conceptual thought first explanation as does the as does the signification of designators. And now I'm going
to show you that show you why that last point of Tang's will show you I can. That concept formation and I got her to explain how words name how names designate. That you can't explain without positing the theoretical construct which is a concept totally different a perception abstraction a memory image or any perceptual wrestler who would show you that concept formation or conceptual thought is indispensable to the explanation of human behavior in which words are used as names or designated as with Dignity of significance and are organized into sentences that make declarative statements or ask questions designated as being conventional signifiers are in the first instance meaningless mocks ourself which as such have no natural relation to the things that they come to signify.
Clouds in the Heavens have a natural relation does rain or smoke a natural relation to fire. But the word cloud all the word smoke has no natural relation to the thing it signifies designates. They notate have meaning or significance is something acquired. Acquired by a physical mark of sound whether it is used as a name or designating the word not only acquires or gets a meaning may also undergo change in meaning or even lose its meaning. This indicates that its meaning or significance is separable completely separable from its physical body. Now how does the physical model of sound acquire the dino trait of meaning whereby it becomes a meaningful word functioning as a name or designated. How does that sound cloud function to designate the thing cloud. Since the word inners denote meaning signifies the object designated it may be thought
at the physical Mach or sound gets its meaning as a naming word from the object it names the most natural in the world. What use are those or scrap they slap the word on the thing and the word gets its meaning from the thing to see whether this is correct. Let us take the simplest case one in which a word designates a perceptible object. If the word dog were the only word that could be imposed as a name on the object that that word normally designates in English it might look. As if a certain sound or notation acquired the designated meaning of the word dog directly from the perceptible object and which is imposed as a name. But on that very same object that I can point to you can look at. We can impose other name for just google canine mammal pet domesticated animal and so forth. Since all these names and many more of those beside can be used to designate one and the same perceptible object
but do not have the same denotative significance. As is clear from the other objects they do or do not designate we must conclude that the perceived object as been seen is not the source of the differing denotation significance of these different designators though all are applicable to one. Nor can it be the perception of the object that endows these different words where their differing denoted significance for the perception of the object like the object itself remains the same when the object is designated by all these different naming words. What must we look to that in order to explain the multiple naming the multiple naming of the same perceptible object by designators with differing denotation of significance. The only satisfactory answer to this question in my judgement is this. Different names get their different denotation significance from the
perceived object a carving as that object is differently can see or understood. If we could not can see or understand the given perceived object in different ways as a dog as a poodle as a mammal as a domesticated animal we could not apply various names to it as names having different or differing didn't have significance. It's the same object. It's perceived as the same not because we understand it conceive it differently and because we can see that differently. We can name it with names that have different detainer significance and different connotations. I just stated the traditional triadic formulation of the dinner table of motor signification the meaning involves three elements the signify a physical Mako sound conventionally instituted the service the name the object signified which may or may not be a perceptible object and the
conception or understanding of the object to matter what it is. The triadic formulation of the notated signification asserts that a word used to designate an object has a denotative meaning that it gets from its uses conception or understanding about object not from the object not from its users perception of the object but only from its uses concepts of the object. Since that same object can be conceived in different ways it can be designated by different words each having different details and of significance differing according to the concept of the object from which the word gets its meaning and through which it signifies the object. Dinner Table. If by the power of conceptual thought we mean at the very least the ability to use words significantly as names. Together with the ability to put words together significantly in sentences then we can see that man's linguistic behavior requires first explanation. The power of conceptual
thought on his part. Let me now summarize the conclusions we have reached. What remains to be seen. Five points. First without any appeal in respect to the evidence and proceeding solely from the objective evidence of man's linguistic behavior in naming and sentence making. We have come to see that too inferred ability has two theoretical constructs and psychology are indispensable for the explanation of human behavior. One is the power of conception or understanding. The other is the power of judgment. We are by concepts are exercised in relation to one another. The first is indispensable to naming the second the sentence making. We can regard the operation of these two powers as the power of a conceptual phone. Our conclusion is that human linguistic behavior cannot be explained except in terms
of man's having the power of conceptual thought. And since no other animal has any linguistic behavior a truly linguistic behavior propositional all syntactical language there is no need no need to attribute conceptual thought to any other animal. Since the animals behavior can be explained without a conceptual thought only comes into play into the picture. When you have to explain linguistic behavior. Second this conclusion is added to another conclusion reached earlier namely at the bit when I just repeated it the behavior of nonlinguistic animals can be adequately explained without attribute them the power of conceptual thought and third to defend the earlier conclusion was only necessary to expose the equivocation of the psychologists and the use of such words as abstraction concept and simple and rigorous rigorously to apply Ockham's principle of parsimony in explaining animal behavior as that is described in the light of all the experimental findings.
For these two conclusions what is needed to explain human linguistic behavior what is not needed to explain animals nonlinguistic behavior. These two conclusions lead us to a third conclusion namely that men and other animals are not only different kinds by virtue of the fact that men use names and make sentences and other animals do not. Not at all but that they also differ in kind with respect to the underlying psychological basis of the difference in their observed behavior. Men have the power of conceptual thought. Animals totally lack. Fifth And finally this last conclusion leaves open one further question that must be settled before we can decide whether men differ radically or only superficially income. The question is is man's power assuming that I've established that man does have the power that other animals do not have the power of conceptual
thought is man's power of conceptual thought exercised in acts of concept formation of judgment of naming observable acts of naming and of sentence making explicable and highly in terms of neurological mechanisms and processes Stated another way a little more technically the question is all the power and action of the human brain not only the necessary not only the necessary but also the sufficient condition of man's had and exercising the power of conceptual thought. The metaphysical mut behaviorist who was a materialist answers these questions affirmatively. The empty materialist answers these same questions negatively and the issue constituted by these opposite answers involves metaphysical arguments on the one hand and neurological evidence and theory on the other hand together with the findings and hypotheses of the
computer technologists. This is by far the most difficult part of the next question about man we will deal with it in the next lecture. You have been listening to language and thought the third of five lectures about the difference of man and the difference it makes. Our guest speaker for the 1966 Britannica lecture series given at the University of Chicago is Mortimer J Adler director of the Institute for philosophical research. Next week Mr Adler will talk about man and machine the difference of man and the difference it makes is produced for national educational radio by the University of Chicago. This is the national educational radio network.
Mortimer Adler lectures
Language and thought, part 2
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University of Chicago
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program presents the second part of Mortimer Adler's lecture, "Language and Thought."
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Series of five lectures by Dr. Mortimer J. Adler, Director of the Institute for Philosophic Research in Chicago. Title of lecture series: "The Difference of Man and the Difference It Makes."
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Producing Organization: University of Chicago
Speaker: Julin, Joseph R.
Writer: Adler, Mortimer Jerome, 1902-2001.
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 66-33-3 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:06
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Chicago: “Mortimer Adler lectures; Language and thought, part 2,” 1966-08-16, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 28, 2024,
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APA: Mortimer Adler lectures; Language and thought, part 2. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from