PHIL 480. PHILOSOPHY OF LANGUAGE

Earlham College, Spring Semester 2004-2005
Monday, Thursday 2:20-3:50 Carpenter 321
Instructor: Ferit Güven
Office: Carpenter 328
Office Hours: Monday 11:00-12:00, Wednesday 2:30-3:30, and by appointment
Office Phone: 983-1399
e-mail: guvenfe@earlham.edu

Course Description: The aim of this course is to introduce you to various themes in the philosophy of language.  There are several ways of approaching the philosophy of language.  In this course, we will take a historical-thematic approach.  Rather than approaching the philosophy of language exclusively as an analysis of meaning produced by the human subject, this course will investigate the historical and conceptual origins of language.  We will question the relationship between language and human consciousness, history, and philosophy in general.  We will take a conceptual and historical rather than an analytical approach to the philosophy of language.  Philosophy of language is one of the areas where one can observe the differences between the analytic and continental schools in philosophy as well as a dialogue between these schools of thought.  We will read the works of Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, and John Austin, who are considered to be representatives of analytical philosophy, as well as the works of several thinkers who are regarded as belonging to the continental tradition, such as Ferdinand de Saussure, Martin Heidegger, Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault.

Reading Assignments: (available in the Earlham College bookstore)
Herder, J.G. and Rousseau, J-J, Two Essays On the Origin of Language, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986).
Saussure, Ferdinand de, Course in General Linguistics, (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1965).
Austin, John, How To Do Things With Words, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1975).

In addition to these texts, the following readings are on reserve at the Lilly Library (as books and/or in photocopy form) and in the Philosophy Department.
Gottlob Frege, "Sense and Reference" from Translations from the Philosophical Writings of Gottlob Frege.
Bertrand Russell,  "On Denoting" from The Philosophy of Language, (ed. A.P. Martinich).
Jacques Derrida, "Signature Event Context" from Limited Inc.
Jacques Derrida, Selections from Of Grammatology.
Martin Heidegger, "The Nature of Language" and "The Way to Language" from On the Way to Language.
Michel Foucault,  "The Thought from Outside" from Foucault/Blanchot.

Requirements and Evaluation: This course will be conducted in a seminar format. Therefore, attandance and participation are important dimensions of the course and your grade. I expect you to come to class prepared and ready to participate, i.e., having read the text carefully, and ready to raise and answer questions.

You are expected to write four papers (5-7 pages). The first three papers will be mainly explanation or exegesis of the text. I will provide topics for each of these assignments. For the last paper you are encouraged to decide on your own topic/question.  For every paper (including papers on topics of your own choice) you are responsible for the general guidelines provided.  See "Comments and Suggestions for Papers."

Each week (one or) two students will prepare a protocol.
A protocol is a carefully edited summary/notes of the previous class sessions written in full sentences. Protocols will be 2 single-spaced pages and will be photocopied by the student who wrote it and handed out to all students at the beginning of each week to be read aloud.  The protocol will serve as a cumulative record of the course. In addition to reviewing the material covered in the previous classes, it should include announcements made in class and questions not addressed in class. The best protocols will be those that do not simply reproduce word for word everything that was said during class, but that rearrange the material thematically, editing out what was unimportant and emphasizing what was significant. One of the advantages of the protocols is to allow you to think during class and not just take notes; because someone will be taking notes for you, you can concentrate on the ideas being presented, and participate without having to write constantly. Also, you will have a summary of every class which will help you with writing papers.

Your grade will be calculated according to the following distribution: Paper 1: 20%; Paper 2: 20%; Paper 3: 20%; Final Paper: 20%; Protocol: 10%; Participation and attendance: 10%.
There will be no final examination.

The success of this course depends on your contribution. Even though I am not inclined to legislate strict attendance policies, you will fail this course, regardless of your grade, if you miss more than four sessions.

Office hours are for students to discuss ideas, assignments and questions. You are encouraged and welcome to come by my office or make appointments for times other than scheduled office hours. You should take advantage of office hours and appointments not simply to discuss your papers (you are obviously welcome to do that too) but also to understand ideas, and texts discussed in class, or discuss your own ideas.

Our sessions will start at 2:30 pm. Students are expected to come on time. Walking into (and out of) the classroom while the session is in progress is very disruptive for everybody.  I ask you not to do these. For every two late attendance you will be marked absent for one class session.

Any student with a documented disability (e.g., physical, learning, psychiatric, vision, hearing etc.) who needs to arrange reasonable accommodations must contact the instructor and Disability Services Office (Academic Support Services) at the beginning of the semester. Accommodation arrangements must be made during the first-two weeks of the semester.

Calendar: There may be some modifications to this calendar. It is your responsibility to be aware of these changes. These changes will be announced in class. If you miss a class you should make sure that you are informed about the assignments for the next session.

Week 1: Introduction to the course
January 13: Novalis, Monologue

Week 2:
January 17:  Rousseau, Essay on the Origin of Languages
January 20:  Rousseau, Essay on the Origin of Languages

Week 3:
January 24:  Herder, Essay on the Origin of Language
January 27:  Herder, Essay on the Origin of Language

Week 4:
January 31:  Frege, "Sense and Reference"
February 3:  Russell,  "On Denoting"

 

 

Week 5:
February 7:  Saussure, Course in General Linguistics
February 10: Mid-semester Break

Week 6:
February 14: Saussure, Course in General Linguistics
February 17: Saussure, Course in General Linguistics

Week 7:
February 21: Austin,  How To Do Things with Words
February 24: Austin,  How To Do Things with Words

Week 8:
February 28:  Austin,  How To Do Things with Words
March 3:  Austin,  How To Do Things with Words ; Derrida, "Signature Event Context"

Week 9:
March 7:  Derrida, "Signature Event Context"
March 10: Derrida, "Signature Event Context"

Week 10:
March 14: Derrida,  Of Grammatology
March 17: Derrida, Of Grammatology

March 21-March 25: Spring Break

Week 11:
March 28:  Derrida, Of Grammatology
March 31: Derrida, Of Grammatology

Week 12:
April 4: Heidegger, "The Nature of Language"
April 7: Heidegger, "The Nature of Language"

Week 13:
April 11:  Heidegger, "The Way to Language"
April 14:  Heidegger, "The Way to Language"

Week 14:
April 18:  Foucault, "The Thought from Outside"
April 21:  Foucault, "The Thought from Outside"

Week 15:
April 25: Foucault, "The Thought from Outside"
April 28: Review and Evaluation

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