Agustin Vicente is Ikerbasque Research Professor at the University of the Basque Country, Linguistics Department. In this post, they present their new edited volume"Inner Speech: New Voices".
Our new anthology, Inner Speech: New Voices (OUP, 2018), is the first in philosophy to focus on inner speech—a phenomenon known, colloquially, as “talking to yourself silently” or “the little voice in the head.” The book is interdisciplinary in spirit and practice, bringing together philosophers, psychologists, and neuroscientists to discuss the multiple controversies surrounding the nature and cognitive role of the inner voice.
Readers of this blog may be most familiar with theoretical work on inner speech as it occurs in the context of explaining Auditory Verbal Hallucinations (AVHs) in schizophrenia. Building on and amending early work by Christopher Frith (1992), a number of theorists have proposed that AVHs result from a deficit in the generation or monitoring of one’s own inner speech. Our book includes several chapters by well-known participants in those debates—including Hélène Loevenbruck and colleagues, Sam Wilkinson & Charles Fernyhough, Lauren Swiney, and Peter Langland-Hassan—that push the leading theories into new territory.
Stepping back, as philosophers of mind, it has always been surprising to us how little direct attention inner speech receives in philosophy and psychology. From a pre-theoretical, commonsense point of view, you might think that talking to yourself silently is one of the most important—and certainly most common—forms of thought we enjoy. And yet, few contemporary philosophers or psychologists assign to inner speech an indispensable cognitive role. This is in itself ground for puzzlement: if we could get on more or less the same without talking to ourselves, why do we spend so much time in silent soliloquy?