CfP: Language as a tools for acquiring Knowledge (Atiner conference)

If you have been following this blog or my previous one you will know that I have been looking for chances for cross-cultural philosophy since many years. You will also know that I have been thinking at the Atiner Conference as a good chance to discuss about Indian themes as part of Philosophy tout court and not within the small ghetto of Indian Philosophy for Indologists.

This year, Malcolm C. Keating (University of Texas, Austin) and I will be hosting a panel at the next Atiner conference in Athens, 25–28 May 2015. If you are interested to join, read the following CfP and drop a line either in the comments or at my personal address.

How do we gather knowledge through language? One can suggest at least three possibilities:

(1) descriptive statements
(2) prescriptions
(3) poetic language

The list does not exhaust all instances of linguistically conveyed knowledge. There might be residual cases, such as instances in which perlocutionary speech acts additionally also convey knowledge. Furthermore, the list assumes that poetic language is more than just metaphoric language, in the sense that the latter can (at least in principle) be eliminated from (1) and (2) with no harm to the knowledge-content being communicated.

In case (1), one comes to know that X through a linguistic expression provided that some basic presuppositions are fulfilled. Authors disagree as to what they are, but they usually discuss:

—competence of the speaker (highlighted in India in the Nyāya and in the Pramāṇavāda tradition)
—competence of the hearer
—content which is communicated (state of affairs, commands…)
—way of communication (direct statement, implication…)

and express them in terms of
—truthfulness (of the speaker)
—ability to trust
—desire to communicate (discussed in India and only a few cases in the West)
— truth (of the content)

But what do “competence” and “truthfulness” in the various cases exactly entail? And what roles do speaker and hearer fulfill in the various cases? We would like to discuss these questions together with more specific ones, such as: Is there a specific role played by the absence of information? Under which conditions can the absence of information about X (e.g., about the sudden death of the current president of the US) amount to the knowledge that non X? Does the same apply to cases (2) and (3)?

Papers are invited that focus on different authors and areas, but we invite speakers to dare to question their ideas and cross geographic boundaries. Let us then discuss philosophically, though with different schools, authors, and backgrounds.

It might sound like a purely rhetorical move, but it is not: We especially invite submissions from scholars who do not belong to the men-white-Western mainstream academy (philosophy can only benefit from different perspectives).

Further information on the Atiner conference can be read here:

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

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