Philosophy of Language
Full course description
The philosophy of language is concerned with the role that language plays in thinking, or more specifically: knowing. As such it is closely related to epistemology and philosophic theories on truth. But ultimately, the role of language also turns out to be essential when we make the transition from judgements about the world to moral judgements, i.e. judgements that express how we should act within that world. In this course we will show you how the study of language has been at the focus of interest of philosophers throughout the history of philosophy, and that the way in which the function of language is interpreted, is intimately connected with a philosopher’s world view in general. We shall specifically pay attention to the philosophers Frege, Russell and Wittgenstein, but shall also touch upon the works of a variety of other philosophers, such as William of Ockham, David Hume and Immanuel Kant. We shall explore the fundamental properties of language that allow it to be a medium of thought and knowledge. Among these properties are truth, meaning and reference, notions that are closely linked together in what is often called the ‘triangle of language’. Developing the skills of thinking philosophically about language will have an impact beyond the immediately related philosophical topics. You will become a more powerful thinker, better prepared to make important decisions and less susceptible to being tricked and manipulated by others.
- To introduce students to the history of philosophical thought concerning language, including the implications of several important theories about language for how we think about knowledge and the possibility of making judgements.
HUM1007 Introduction to Philosophy;
HUM2008 Introduction to Ancient Philosophy/Ancient Philosophy or HUM2054 Reading Philosophers/Back to the Philosophers Themselves!
- William G. Lycan, G. Philosophy of Language: A Contemporary Introduction (New York: Routledge, 2008 [2nd ed.])
- A.P. Martinich,The Philosophy of Language (Oxford: OUP, 2000 [4th ed.])
- A selection of articles/chapters from primary sources.