Spring 2009

Philosophy of Language

Listed in: Philosophy, as PHIL-36


Kevin Klement (Section 01)


“Caesar was stabbed.” With those words, I can make a claim about someone who lived in the distant past. How is that possible? How do our words succeed in picking out particular portions of reality, even ones with which we have had no contact? How does language enable us to convey thoughts about everything from Amherst College, to the hopes of a friend, to the stars beyond our galaxy? What are the thoughts, or the meanings, that our words carry? And whatever they turn out to be, how do they come to be associated with our words: through some mental activity on our part, or instead through our use of language? We will explore these and other philosophical questions about language through a reading of seminal works by 20th-century thinkers. Requisite: One course in Philosophy. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Klement.