MoL-2018-02: Quine and Loglan: the Influence of Philosophical Ideas on the Creation of a Logical Language

MoL-2018-02: Molenaar, Laura S. (2018) Quine and Loglan: the Influence of Philosophical Ideas on the Creation of a Logical Language. [Pre-print]

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In the 1950s, James Cooke Brown created an artificial language, in an attempt to use this language to test the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. The language was called Loglan, short for ‘logical language’. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis expresses, roughly, that the language one speaks influences the way one thinks. Brown’s idea was that if language indeed influences thought, it could be determined that speakers of Loglan would think more logically than speakers of for instance English or Dutch. Such considerations do not yet tell us, however, how one should construct a language significantly more logical than the natural languages we use in everyday life. Brown writes that he was heavily inspired by W.V.O. Quine, among others, in the creation of Loglan. Quine’s philosophy of language guided him, he says, in forming the structure of his artificial language. In this thesis, I will answer the question to what extent Quine’s philosophy of language is in agreement with Brown’s goals and methods. Using both a historical analysis and a systematic approach, I will argue that Brown has adopted many of the same solutions to problems of ambiguity that Quine has. At the same time, I maintain, analysis of Quine’s more general philosophy of language actually suggests that Quine would be opposed to the use of an artificial language as a means to test the Sapir- Whorf hypothesis. My thesis is thus a case study of how philosophical ideas can form an incentive to building artificial languages, and also an exposition of how such ideas can be adapted and revised once they are implemented.

Item Type: Pre-print
Report Nr: MoL-2018-02
Series Name: Master of Logic Thesis (MoL) Series
Year: 2018
Subjects: Logic
Depositing User: Dr Marco Vervoort
Date Deposited: 09 Jul 2018 12:04
Last Modified: 16 Aug 2018 13:50

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