The Call of Silence

the debateWhat if silence was the route for understanding and theorizing a better world? In a recent debate done at the Institute of Art and Ideas, an author, a former priest, a philosopher of language and musician weigh in on how silence can be a means to approaching deep philosophical puzzles. Is there an implication within silence that necessitates an understanding of society or is it that silence leads to answers? There are three parts to the debate; Unspeakable things, Beyond words, and can silence change the world?

To watch the debate, click here: http://iai.tv/video/the-call-of-silence.  The Institute of Art and Ideas (IAI) is committed to fostering a progressive and vibrant intellectual culture in the UK. A not-for-profit organization, it is engaged in changing the current cultural landscape through big ideas, boundary-pushing thinkers and challenging debates.

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Mind & Language Conference (Birkbeck College, Friday 28th March 2014)

Birkbeck_CollegeOn Friday 28th March 2014, there will be a Mind & Language Public Conference at Birkbeck College, London, on The Cognitive Science of Religion. Details of the programme can be found here. Please contact the journal’s Executive Editor, Professor Samuel Guttenplan (s.guttenplan@bbk.ac.uk), for further information.

Thought: A Journal of Philosophy

ThoughtRead the second issue of Thought: A Journal of Philosophy for free!

Thought, edited by Crispin Wright, John Divers and Carrie Jenkins and published on behalf of the Northern Institute of Philosophy, is dedicated to the publication of short (less than 4,500 words), original, philosophical papers in the areas of epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophy of logic, philosophy of math, and philosophy of mind.

The editors of Thought hope to expose the readers of Thought to the most central and significant issues and positions in contemporary philosophy that fall under its remit. To that end, all readers are encouraged to continue the discussion in the new Thought Blog, which provides a forum for readers of and contributors to the journal to discuss the latest papers.

Read Thought‘s second issue here, and then register for the Thought Blog to share your thoughts!

Undoing Gender: New Experiments in Social Deconstruction

‘The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, “It’s a girl”,’ the American politician Shirley Chisholm once said. Exposed in this insight is the miraculous power of language; all that is required for something so fateful to be determined is not biological nature, not even social imposition, but, simply, speech. So seemingly simple is this mechanism, in fact, that some are doing their best to change it. It was revealed this week that a pre-school in Sweden has decided that the use of gender-specific pronouns such as ‘him’ (‘han’) and ‘her’ (‘hon’) is to be prohibited, in favour of gender-neutral terms, in an attempt to reduce the effects of linguistically determined gender-stereotyping.

The school, aptly name Egalia, is tackling an issue which has been firmly on the feminist agenda since Dale Spender’s influential book Man Made Language appeared in 1980. There Spender argued that, far from passively capturing the way that the world appears to us, language actively constructs the way that the world is. More specifically, the state of language, according to Spender, structures the world in a way that promotes males and inhibits females, whether by exclusion, alienation, control, or construction. The claim was supported by the famous studies in linguistics carried out by the American anthropologists Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf, whose extensive research on Native American languages led to the hypothesis that the structure of language restricts and determines our cognitive categories. It is hard to report an event in English without using the tense-marked words that the grammar requires, and it is hard to encode a fact in Hopi without marking its testimonial status, that is, whether it is first-hand knowledge, second-hand, third-hand, and so on, as required by the structure of the language. Importantly, it makes it hard to think outside of these limits, and, consequently, hard to behave outside of them. The way that we mark gender according to our grammatical structure is no different, an assumption which the new Egalia policy operates on. Continue reading “Undoing Gender: New Experiments in Social Deconstruction”

FREE syllabus: Locke on Language

FREE PDFTeaching & Learning Guide for: Locke on Language
By Walter Ott, Virginia Tech

Keywords

Section: History of Philosophy
Subjects:
Philosophy, History of Philosophy, Modern (C17th – C19th), Logic and Language, Philosophy of Language
People:
Locke, John
Key Topics:
meaning, empiricism

(See all Philosophy Compass Teaching & Learning Guides‘)