Truth in Dreaming

  • Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini

Abstract

The goal of the workshop, upon which the present volume is based, was to promote an earnest exchange of ideas between neuroscientists and researchers in other disciplines. The “Description of Goals” circulated by the organizers urged us “to explore how modern neuroscience has changed conceptions of what it means to be a human being.” I will prudently leave this formidable task to the neuroscientists themselves, but there is something I do want to say about ways in which modern cognitive science has changed our conceptions of what it means to explain human behavior. Certain general considerations may be seen as relevant by neuroscientists and I will attempt to stress such relevance. The particular departure point I have chosen here is the logical problem represented by a scientific explanation of meanings in natural languages. Summarily stated, this is the problem of mapping linguistic sounds onto mental representations that have a definite content, this content (a proposition) having in turn the property of being true or false, or, more generally, of satisfying certain relations of adequacy with respect to real or possible “states of affairs.” More on all this in a moment. Adopting a terminology that has become common in linguistics and in cognitive science, the expression “logical problem” suggests an analysis of the basic assumptions that any theory of meaning, reference, and truth is bound to share, and a reflection on the fundamental nature of the task, irrespective of the specific hypothese one choose to adopt. Let′s look at these points in turn.

Keywords

Europe Culmination 

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1992

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  • Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini

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