Millikan on Are There Mental Indexicals And Demonstratives: Summary

Some signs stand for themselves. Example: the `word’ for tongue in American Sign Language is the gesture of pointing to the tongue.

Q: Is this possible? Is it not the case that this is not a word at all, but a suggestion that one consider the indicated item? If I point at the sun, is my action identical with saying the word `sun’? Is it coherent at all for something to be a sign if the signified is the sign? Must it not refer elsewhere? Does a sign labelled `this is a sign’ tell us more than a sign shaped piece of wood?

photo of orange yellow and red hello molding clay
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To be a word requires a certain context. Example: the shape `spinach’ formed randomly in the clouds does not constitute the word `spinach’. Putting a can on a piece of paper with `spinach’ written on it, by contrast, does instantiate a communicative act. So the can of spinach becomes part of the symbol for itself.

Q: What if the can contains beans? Why does the symbol `spinach’ combined with the can indicate only the can and not the can + paper complex?

beans coffee drink cafe
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The `you’ in `would you please go?’ is anaphoric: it applies to whoever is being addressed in the same way that pointing a finger at the addressee functions in ASL. It is not indexical. It is a `sign for itself’; a part of the environment – the interlocutor – is used to refer to itself.

Q: Why isn’t it still an indexical?

Everyone may have their own version of a particular concept because everyone has different experiences. This is recognised by the introduction of the term `unicept’.

There are no indexical or demonstrative thoughts because indexicals and demonstratives involve self-signs and there can be no external objects in the mind.

See Also:

Husserl’s Phenomenological Reduction: What Is It And Why Does Husserl Believe It To Be Necessary?

Does Heidegger Establish That The Ready-to-hand Enjoys ‘Priority’ Over The Present-at-hand?

What Ontological Conclusions Does Sartre Present In His ‘Pursuit Of Being’ And With What Justification?

David Hume’s Account Of Causation: Summary

Author: Tim Short

I am a former investment banking and securitisation specialist, having spent nearly a decade on the trading floor of several international investment banks. Throughout my career, I worked closely with syndicate/traders in order to establish the types of paper which would trade well and gained significant and broad experience in financial markets. Many people have trading experience similar to the above. What marks me out is what I did next. I decided to pursue my interest in philosophy at Doctoral level, specialising in the psychology of how we predict and explain the behaviour of others, and in particular, the errors or biases we are prone to in that process. I have used my experience to write The Psychology of Successful Trading. In this book, I combine the above experience and knowledge to show how biases can lead to inaccurate predictions of the behaviour of other market participants, and how remedying those biases can lead to better predictions and major profits. Learn more on the About Me page.

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