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Introduction to Philosophy of Langauge

Course Description:

Humans have a remarkable ability to create and use symbolic objects like money, maps, pictures, and words. But how can a symbolic object come to signify something `beyond’ itself – in other words, how can a symbolic object come to have meaning?

While there are many kinds of symbols, words and sentences are perhaps the most characteristic, impressive and intricate examples. Accordingly, studying the symbolic nature of language provides a good testing ground for general questions about symbolic objects. Further, though such questions are of intrinsic interest, analyzing language arguably clarifies – and occasionally resolves – traditional philosophical topics and puzzles.

As such, in this course, we will focus on thinking about human language as a system of symbolic objects. Students will read some of the most important works in this tradition, acquiring the skills and background necessary to understand it as we proceed. Specific topics include notions of meaning, reference, truth, as well as the relationship between language, logic and reality. Finally, we will also look into the pragmatics of language, thinking about how use of words/symbols plays a role in fixing particular meanings.

Note: due to the use of some logical notions & notations, prior or concurrent attendance of Einführung in die Logik und Argumentationstheorie is suggested but not required for attending this course.

Course Materials:

Further Materials:

One topic we’ll be discussing through-out the term is ‘how to write a philosophy paper’; on this matter, I strongly suggest the following:

Further, the following texts – all written by Christian Folde – are all useful:

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