Vries, D. de
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Whereas analytic philosophy has a long tradition of pleading that thought without language is impossible, it is more and more common within the cognitive and behavioural sciences to believe that thought is possible without language. A series of empirical findings from studies of prelinguistic infants and nonhuman animals casts doubt on the necessity of language for thought. Findings such as these feed my intuition that some nonlinguistic beings can think. The aim of this thesis is to examine whether that intuition can be philosophically justified. After establishing requirements for thought, this thesis examines whether Bermúdez’s conception of nonlinguistic thought, which seems to fit best with my intuition that some nonlinguistic beings can think, can justifiably be characterised as a type of thinking. After establishing that it fails to meet the requirements for thought, I suggest that we should be more careful in our ascription of beliefs and thoughts to nonlinguistic beings. I conclude that the minimalist approach as proposed by Michael Dummett, although it is not yet fully developed and therefore cannot (yet) be used to show in what exact sense and to what extent my intuition that nonlinguistic beings can have thought turns out to be adequate, is the most promising account to start thinking about the possibility of nonlinguistic proto-thought.