Why do we talk to ourselves?

Felicity Deamer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human beings talk to themselves; sometimes out-loud, other times in inner speech. In this paper, I present a resolution to the following dilemma that arises from self-talk. If self-talk exists then either, (i) we know what we are going to say and self-talk serves no communicative purpose, and must serve some other purpose, or (ii) we don’t know what we are going to say, and self-talk does serve a communicative purpose, namely, it is an instance of us communicating with ourselves. Adopting (i) was the strategy taken by Bart Geurts, who claims that the primary purpose of self-talk is to entrain commitments, and is not (primarily) communicative. While accepting that self-talk can usefully play this role, I criticise the view that entraining commitments is self-talk’s fundamental role. I argue that adopting the view that we are self-blind, at least to a significant degree, means that we can accept that self-talk does play a communicative role.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425–433
Number of pages9
JournalReview of Philosophy and Psychology
Issue number2
Early online date5 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

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Funding: FD was supported by the Wellcome Trust (WT108720).


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