Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation
Preprints, Working Papers, ...

Indexical Thought: The Communication Problem

Abstract : What characterizes indexical thinking is the fact that the modes of presentation through which one thinks of objects are context-bound and perspectival. Such modes of presentation, I claim, are mental files presupposing that we stand in certain relations to the reference : the role of the file is to store information one can gain in virtue of standing in that relation to the object. This raises the communication problem, first raised by Frege : if indexical thoughts are context-bound and relation-based, how is it possible to communicate them to those who are not in the same context and do not stand in the right relations to the object? Following Frege, I argue that the solution comes from an important distinction between linguistic and psychological modes of presentation. Psychological modes of presentation are mental files. They are perspectival and context-bound. But linguistic modes of presentation are fixed by the conventions of the language and they are shared by the language users. They are public and serve to coordinate mental files in communication by constraining them to contain the piece of information they encode. In this way communication takes place even though the indexical thoughts entertained by the speaker are, in some sense, private and cannot be shared by the audience.
Document type :
Preprints, Working Papers, ...
Complete list of metadata

Cited literature [92 references]  Display  Hide  Download
Contributor : François Recanati <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, January 20, 2015 - 1:16:52 PM
Last modification on : Friday, July 2, 2021 - 9:58:02 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Tuesday, April 21, 2015 - 10:06:10 AM


Indexical thought and communi...
Files produced by the author(s)


  • HAL Id : ijn_01103232, version 1



François Recanati. Indexical Thought: The Communication Problem. 2015. ⟨ijn_01103232⟩



Record views


Files downloads