FSK Workshop 17

The cognitive space of questions, expectations, and predictions


Workshop Description


The present debate on the relation between language and thought centers around the analyses of propositions (positive sentences) and their constituents (concepts) with the aim to uncover their underlying mental representations: which mental mechanisms are necessary to produce the thought in me that it is raining, here and today? By virtue of which faculty am I able to say: 'it is raining'? One central challenge consists in characterizing those mental entities which ultimately constitute thoughts (symbols or processes?) and a second in characterizing the interdependence of thought and language.
The focus on positive sentences as the prototype of thoughts brings with it a certain blindness for other types of thoughts: questions. These might perhaps be better characterized as mental states, which precede and pave the way to thoughts of the positive, affirmative kind. Understanding questions as expressions of a lack of information is not a new conception. However, their role in the relation between language and thought especially with respect to their cognitive structure seems to be poorly understood.
Recent developments in the cognitive neurosciences have established the notion of the “predictive brain” according to which most of the brain’s energy is invested in the production of hypothesis (“guessing”) concerning the outcome of actions or concerning upcoming stimulation from the environment. Can these insights on mechanisms of information processing and procurement provide a key towards a cognitive theory of questions to find in the cognitive structure? Is “guessing” a necessary first step into formulating affirmative thoughts?


General Information


Date:     18.-19.07.2013

Time:    Thursday, 17:30 - 19:00

             Friday, 9:45 - ca. 13:00

Place:   Thursday, University of Stuttgart, KII, room: 17.13

             Friday, University of Stuttgart, KII, room: 17.51




Thursday, 18.07.2013; room 17.13

17:30 - 19:00     


Moshe Bar (Harvard Medical School / Gonda Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center, Bar-Ilan University)

The proactive brain: Predictions in visual cognition


Friday, 19.07.2013; room 17.51

9:45 - 11:15       


Hans Kamp (IMS, University of Stuttgart)

Questioning as a Propositional Attitude: On the structure of complex content-bearing mental states   

11:15 - 11:30 Coffe Break

11:30 - 13:00


Andrea Bender (University of Freiburg)

Linguistic relativity revisited: Do linguistic conventions affect cognitive conceptualization?






Artemis Alexiadou

Ulrike Pompe-Alama

Marcel Pitteroff

A. Kei Andrews