You, me and linguistic relativity: a diagnosis of our relationship

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


    The question of whether language influences cognition is as psychological as it is philosophical, yet there is a lack of critical engagement between the two disciplines on such a prevalent topic. Although philosophers and scientists are aware of one another’s exercises and benefit from one another’s contributions, both sides are unfortunately unaware of the extent of the other. Scientists are often unaware of the sheer volume of philosophical thought about how language could theoretically influence mind, whilst philosophers are characteristically unaware of contemporary scientific practice and opinion. This paper aims to bridge this division by reminding each side of their profoundly similar objectives, perspectives and need for one another, especially in two areas: the existential repercussions of linguistic relativity being true, and the theoretical framework through which we understand it. The prospect that certain features of language unconsciously influence several identity-defining features of human cognition, like emotions, judgements and behaviour is neither trivial nor solely scientific. Such a prospect would challenge the way we understand ourselves as a species as well as individuals, and would raise far-reaching questions about identity, freewill, and morality. Moreover, several scientific theories about Sapir-Whorf and linguistic relativity strongly resemble views, theories and perspectives found in the philosophical studies of mind, language and identity, implying that philosophical theory can directly contribute to scientific study. Specifically, this paper will demonstrate that philosophical theories about mind, cognition and language not only map onto current scientific research, but also suggests new avenues of study and provides the perspective required for us to digest the repercussions of the study’s conclusions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusUnpublished - Oct 2022
    EventCognitive Neuroscience of Language Embodiment and Relativity - Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland
    Duration: 7 Oct 20229 Oct 2022

    Academic conference

    Academic conferenceCognitive Neuroscience of Language Embodiment and Relativity
    Abbreviated titleCoNSoLER2022
    Internet address


    • linguist relativity
    • Wittgenstein
    • Sapir-Whorf
    • neurolinguistics


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