Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Philosophy

First Advisor

Donovan Wishon

Second Advisor

Deborah Mower

Third Advisor

Timothy Yenter

Relational Format



This paper re-examines the language of thought hypothesis by considering objections raised by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe against influential views about the relation of language and thought in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, such as those posited by Herder, Schleiermacher, Schlegel, and von Humboldt. Goethe’s Theory of Colors contains an instructive critique of the idea held by many of his contemporaries: that the bounds and limits of thought are linguistic in character. I argue that Goethe’s remarks anticipate later 20th-century challenges to the language of thought hypothesis regarding implicit cognition, such as Dennett’s “chess playing” example, as well as Gödel’s discussions of the issue of formal incompleteness.



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