Institut für Philosophie

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Prof. Dr. phil. Nikola Kompa

Hochschullehrerinnen, Prüfungsausschuss

Tel.: +49 541 969-7109



  How can we think in a language?

Nikola Kompa's research focusses, on the one hand, on issues at the interface of social epistemology and philosophy of language, such as epistemic contextualism and types of disagreement, the epistemic role of metaphor, but also on bad language, especially on forms of epistemic and hermeneutic injustice and communicative disablement. A book on this latter topic, which she is writing together with two colleagues, is in preparation and under contract with C.H. Beck. Howevere, over the last couple of years, she became increasingly intriqued by the question of how intimately language and thought (or cognition) are intertwined. Recently, she has thus begun to develop a theoretical model of the co-evolution of language and cognition and to investigate how language and other cognitive functions relate to, and mutually scaffold, each other. She also examines embodied approaches to language comprehension, and what the cognitive benefits of language in general and of inner speech in particular might be. A book in which she tackles these questions (title: Language, Cognition, and the Way we Think) is forthcoming (Bloomsbury Academic). Occasionally, she assumes a historical perspective on how (inner and overt) speech augments other cognitive functions. Moreover, she is involved in two interdisciplinary research groups that also address these and related questions. She is PI (and co-speaker) in the DFG-funded RTG Situated Cognition (2017-2026), where she currently supervises a PhD project on inner speech and self-knowledge. Moreover, she is PI in a project on the question How can we think in a language? that is jointly funded by the DFG and the FWF, and which she will pursue together with Christopher Gauker (Salzburg) and Jutta Mueller (who is Mercator fellow in the project). Starting date of this project will be Oktober 1, 2023.  

Media Appearances

scobel - Was Stille auslöst - 3sat/zdf, 22.02.2024 


The cognitive potency of the human mind can be fully appreciated only if it is conceived of as a linguistic mind. This is the starting point of Nikola Kompa’s investigation into the relationship between language and cognition. Underpinned by philosophical ideas from Plato to Ockham, and from Locke to Vygotsky, Kompa uses theories within the philosophy of language, mind, and cognitive science and draws on neuro-psychology and psycholinguistic studies to explore core ideas about language and cognition.

Kompa addresses the perennial philosophical question of what the benefits of having a language might be, and brings into sharper relief the intimate connection between linguistic and other cognitive functions. Informed by recent discussions on language evolution, labels, and inner speech, this timely contribution helps us understand more about how language changes the way we think.