Date of Completion


Degree Type

Honors Thesis


Philosophy (PHIL)

First Advisor

Brian Treanor


The theory of linguistic relativity can be divided into two hypotheses: the strong argument and the weak argument. The strong argument, often called linguistic determinism, posits that one’s native language determines one’s thought in an inescapable manner. The so-called “Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis” demonstrates this, though many modern linguists now believe this principle – and linguistic determinism in general – to be implausible. The weak argument for linguistic relativity states that one’s native language merely influences their worldview, such that it struggles to maintain a connection that is more than trivial. In this work, I seek a “third option” that is both a) plausible and b) non-trivial, such that it mediates these two hypotheses; I term this third option “strong linguistic relativity.” Through an analysis of the ideas of Hans-Georg Gadamer, Paul Ricoeur, and Martin Heidegger, I argue that modern hermeneutics and phenomenology lend themselves to strong linguistic relativity because they suggest that one’s native language influences one’s being-in-the-world in at least some non-trivial ways.