By John Perry
It is a list of conversations of Gretchen Weirob, a instructor of philosophy at a small Midwestern
college, and of her neighbors. The conversations came about in her medical institution room at the 3 nights
before she died from accidents sustained in a bike twist of fate. Sam Miller is a chaplain and a long-
time good friend of Weirob’s; Dave Cohen is a former scholar of hers.
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Additional info for A Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality
That will be the main task of this book. 3 Of wolves and wolf-children The most direct way of demonstrating that thought is independent of language (both naturally and conceptually) would be to show convincingly that there are creatures who have thoughts but lack any language. And it certainly does seem that there are such creatures. Most of us are inclined to believe that dogs, cats, wolves, and seals, as well as apes and pre-linguistic human infants, are capable of entertaining simple thoughts about their environment.
In fact our predictive success is so ubiquitous that we may hardly notice it; and certainly our occasional failures have far greater salience for us. 7 Innateness and theory of mind 29 generates it is very likely true, or close to the truth. Such an argument seems to me to be powerful enough to make the conclusion - realism of fact about the mental - a very plausible one indeed; at any rate, just as plausible as any other scientific realism. And it is a view that I propose to take for granted throughout the remainder of this book.
First, it is obvious that a thesis of metaphysical necessity would still not be strong enough to warrant the claim that the analysis of the concept of 16 i The geography of the issues thought, itself, should proceed via analysis of language. Only a thesis of conceptual necessity would provide a sufficient guarantee of this. But second, a thesis of natural necessity is surely sufficient, by itself, to warrant the claim that the analysis of particular problematic concepts can legitimately proceed via an analysis of their linguistic expression.
A Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality by John Perry