First, Second and Third Person in the Emergence of Thought

Miguel Ángel Pérez Jiménez


What does it mean to say that thought has social basis? This paper deals with this issue taking into account Davidson’s views on radical translation. In our view, they constitute a plausible model to explain the social basis of thought. Nevertheless, the task demands precisions about the aims and some methodological aspects of that philosophical project. Wittgenstein’s remarks on mutual understanding will help us to precise the misleading aspects of radical translation. The text has three sections. First, we show that radical translation is a version of a phenomenological Leitmotiv. We raise our discussion deploying the first/third person dichotomy. Secondly, we show that radical translation is improved and corrected by Wittgenstein’s remarks on mutual understanding. This leads us to describe a non-interpretive social interaction as the ground of thought. We call this kind of interaction ‘the second person perspective’. Thirdly, we give some reasons for saying that emotivity is the specific feature of the second person . Our thesis is that an emotive non-conceptual interaction is the social grounding of the emergence of thought.


20th century philosophy; Davidson Donald; Wittgenstein Ludwig; epistemology; first person perspective; meaning as use; philosophy; radical translation; second person perspective; society; third person perspective; thought

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