Saturday, October 23, 2010

"Philosophy and Ordinary Language I," Université Catholique de Louvain, May 19-20, 2011.

Since the earliest days, philosophers have always maintained ambivalent relations with language, sometimes seeing it as a natural and assured path towards truth, sometimes as an obstacle to grasping reality, or even as a positive power of illusion. Plato forcefully criticized the Sophists' rhetorical discourse, but may himself have unduly reified the universals conveyed by language. According to the well-known works of Emile Benvéniste, Aristotle is alleged to have confused the fundamental categories of reality with those of the Greek language and thus, from the outset, compromised his undertaking of constituting a first philosophy. Closer to us, among other idols, Francis Bacon, castigated those of the marketplace, a prioris conveyed by language and preventing our being in contact with things themselves. Elsewhere, the linguistic turn fostered by Moore made language the royal pathway in investigating the real. Wittgenstein, having dreamed of a more precise artificial language eliminating the ambiguities of natural language, set as his task rehabilitating ordinary language to a certain extent. Other (old and new) illustrious examples might of course be presented here: e.g. Austin, Strawson, Grice, Cavell, Kripke, Putnam, Brandom, etc.

A conference, which will be held at the Catholic University of Louvain (Université Catholique de Louvain), will seek to investigate the relations that philosophies have maintained with regard to language. Need we advocate a non-discursive access to reality to speak the truth? Should we have recourse to a technical language to do philosophy correctly or, on the contrary, is ordinary language the best way forward?

E-mail addresses for submissions:;

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