Presentation at Reading, Jan. 2013

Presentation at Reading, Jan. 2013

2010年8月3日 星期二

Hard-Core Philosophy of Language

I need it, but I am also afraid of it. In this coming semester, I might take Professor Nathan Salmon's "Topics in the Nature of Semantic Content" and Professor Michael Devitt's "Linguistic Pragmatism." The former will concentrate on the various puzzles about substitution and belief ascription made popular by Frege, Putnam, Church, Kripke, Soames, and Salmon himself. The latter will concentrate on another strand in philosophical studies in language, namely the Grice-Austin tradition. These two can give me quite balanced education, I believe.

But I am afraid of philosophy of language, narrowly construed. To be sure, it was philosophy of language that led me to academic philosophy in the first place (another urge was provided by Kant's first Critique). However, whenever it goes to certain level of complexity, I get lost. I hope this only shows I have not wrought hard enough, but I am not sure. I am interested in those puzzles, but I am quite content with the solutions provided by the transparent/opaque readings distinction. I guess this is out of my naivete. This coming semester is crucial to me, since I want to know how far I can go, and I need guidance.

And I also need it anyway. My primary interest has always been philosophy of mind, and after these years I have come to believe that deep ideas concerning philosophy of mind have to come from either philosophy of language or natural sciences. I might be wrong. But assuming its truth, then I have no choice. I am too old to start doing serious sciences, so all there left is philosophy of language. I don't know how much I will need, but I know what I understand is so far from the goal. Without deep understandings and commitments in certain issues in philosophy of language (or sciences), it is practically impossible to have deep thoughts in philosophy of mind, or so I believe.

I will try hard. I am not very young, so I do not have much time running away from the truth. I need to be more sophisticated in philosophy of language. And I need to be quick.

I still need to register another seminar for the status of full-time student. Professor Kripke's one on Frege would be suitable for my purpose, but I don't know.