Linguistic Communication as an Instrument of Knowledge: A panel

I came back last week from Athens, were I had organised together with Malcolm Keating a panel on Linguistic Communication as an instrument of knowledge. I ended up framing the problem according to four basic questions, namely 1) What do we know? , 2) How (through which instrument of knowledge) do we know it?, 3) What is the role of language as a medium?, 4) What is the role of the social context?

Then, I suggested several possible answers to each of this question, as in the scheme below.

1. What do we know?

  • —  descriptive contents (i.e., statements about state of affairs, dealt with in the papers by Keating and Lauri)
  • —  prescriptive contents (i.e., commands, dealt with in the papers by Nowakowska and Freschi)
  • —  poetical contents (?) (which have been called also ‘affective contents’, dealt with in the paper by Cuneo)

2. How do we know it?

  • —  linguistic communication as a case of inference or inference to the best explanation (Keating)
  • —  linguistic communication as dependent on its author (Graheli)
  • —  linguistic communication as an independent instrument of knowledge (Nowakowska)

3. What is the role of language as a medium?

  • — The nature of the word-object relation (i.e., ancient Indian and Greek reflections on whether the dissymmetries (e.g. synonyms, homonyms, zero-morphs), which have to be described as a natural part of language, undermine the possibility of language’s being a reliable means of knowledge or not, dealt with by Pontillo and Melis)
  • — written vs. spoken language (Graheli)
  • — internalised vs. spoken words as carriers of the meaning (Saito)

4. What is the role of the social context?

  • — Failures of communication due to language (Jakubczak)
  • — Social setting (Lauri)

In case you are confused, the program of the panel was the following:
Elisa Freschi, Introduction

Monika Nowakowska, Truthfulness and Credibility in an Indian Hermeneutical Context

Elisa Freschi, Conveying Prescriptions: The Mīmāṃsā Understanding of How Prescriptive Texts Function

Malcolm Keating, Indication as Verbal Postulation

Daniele Cuneo, Affective Knowledge as the Aim of Poetic Language. Crossings among Sanskrit Aesthetics, Western Hermeneutics and Contemporary Psychology

Marzenna Jakubczak, What Cognitive Benefits May Arise from the Collision Between Language and Metaphysics? Sāṅkhya-Yoga Perspective

Alessandro Graheli, Epistemology of Verbal and Written Testimony

Akane Saito, Internalization of Speech: Perception and Understanding of the Word

Tiziana Pontillo, Does Dissymmetric Signification Rely on Conventional Rules? Two Ancient Indian Answers

Valeria Melis, Does Dissymmetric Signification Rely on Conventional Rules? Two Ancient Greek Answers

Marco Lauri, “I’ve told a Story in Order to Make a Case for the Truth” Storytelling, Knowledge and Social Agency in some Medieval Arabic Texts

Roundtable Discussion

Comments and discussions are welcome. Be sure you are making a point and contributing to the discussion.

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