• The Great Whatever
    2.2k
    This might be a bit of a stretch, but I was wondering if anyone would be interested in reading a key text in the philosophy of language together. I've been trying to better acquaint myself with the classics, but there aren't many people around who would be appropriate to discuss one in depth with.

    It could be either analytic or continental, but preferably something from Frege/Husserl onward, and preferably something a little difficult or technical, that would benefit from a reading group, to work through the text on its own terms and not just as a ground for opinions and arguments and so on.

    Some examples might be things like:

    -Quine's Word and Object
    -Chomsky's Aspects of the Theory of Syntax
    -Derrida's Speech and Phenomena
    -Austin's How to Do Things With Words
    -Evans' The Varieties of Reference

    Just suggestions, I'm open to whatever, as long as it's a 'key' text (whatever you take that to mean: no monograph published last year about Merleau-Ponty's critique of Heidegger or something like that), and not Naming and Necessity.
  • Pneumenon
    374
    Frege's On Sense and Reference would be good. I'd also be interested in anything else in a similar vein.
  • Pierre-Normand
    1.6k
    Frege's On Sense and Reference would be good. I'd also be interested in anything else in a similar vein.Pneumenon

    Evans' The Varieties of Reference, already mentioned, belongs downstream in the same vein; so does David Wiggins' paper The Sense and Reference of Predicates: A Running Repair to Frege's Doctrine and a Plea for the Copula.
  • csalisbury
    2k
    I'd be interested - I don't know how much insight I'd be able to offer, but I think I'd benefit from it. I'd read whatever others are most interested in. I guess, of those you've mentioned, I'd be most interested in Quine, Chomsky or Derrida.
  • StreetlightX
    4.3k
    I may or may not chime in with Word and Object, How to Do Things With Words, or Speech and Phenomena, if we end up doing one of those. Got alot on my plate but I'm at least familiar with those. Varieties of Reference might be a bit too big a book for an online reading group, I think.
  • The Great Whatever
    2.2k
    I'd prefer not to do Sense and Reference because one, I think probably people will be overly familiar with it (I'm sick to death of it myself), and because I think it's too short to warrant a reading group. It seems like more of a one-time discussion sort of thing.

    If it was Word and Object, I have skimmed it and so am familiar with its overarching structure, and think it would deb possible to just go through a chapter of it each week, making the group as a whole last seven weeks. I'm less familiar with the structure of S&P, so we'd have to work it out some other way.

    In any case those listed above are just suggestions: if there's something else someone has always wanted to read, or already has read and is interested in commenting on in depth, that would be good too.
  • Pneumenon
    374
    I would gladly do Word and Object. I have not read it, but I have a passing acquaintance with Quine that ought to be deeper.
  • Moliere
    1.7k
    I'd be interested in joining in. Of those listed I'd be down, though I think I'd chime in a favorable opinion of "Doing Things with Words"
  • Marty
    163
    I'd read Derrida's Speech and Phenomena. I've been meaning to get into Derrida more recently, and it's a great text that usually serves as a introduction to him. Although, I doubt I have much stake in the matter.
  • The Great Whatever
    2.2k
    It looks like Quine & Derrida are the most popular choices. Of the folks who could go either way, is there a preference?
  • Pierre-Normand
    1.6k
    I have much more familiarity with Quine but stand to learn more from Derrida. So, I am leaning toward Derrida.
  • shmik
    207
    Just curious, if anyone's familiar with the Derrida, how much knowledge of Husserl is necessary?
  • Moliere
    1.7k
    Of those two I'd opt for Derrida.
  • StreetlightX
    4.3k
    Not a great deal. At least, Derrida is quite clear in his exposition.

    If you want to have the best of both words, do Austin's How To Do Things With Words, then Derrida's essay "Signature, Event, Context", which is a reading of that essay.
  • csalisbury
    2k
    Derrida's cool w/ me too
  • shmik
    207
    I probably wont be able to participate much as I have my honors thesis due in 2 months but I'll keep track of what's going on.

    If people decide on Derrida and anyone has trouble finding a copy, the in-print translation of the text is titled 'Voice and Phenomenon' rather than 'Speech and Phenomena'.
  • StreetlightX
    4.3k
    Basically there are two translations, the older one being 'Speech' and the newer one being 'Voice', which more appropriately corresponds to the French voix, which is the original title. So if you can get your hands on the new one (tran. Leonard Lawlor), do so. Otherwise, hit me up. Assuming Derrida is a go.
  • csalisbury
    2k
    I browsed the introduction to Speech & Phenomena at work today. It seems much less pose-y than most of his stuff and really dovetails nicely with some other current threads. I don't know if that's good or bad, since some controversy could spill over. I will say it does seem to take a lot of Husserl as read. You don't, maybe, need to know your Husserl (I'm no scholar myself) but then you have to just accept a lot of very broad characterization on faith. All that being said, I liked what I read, and would be down to do it. Shit's dense tho, it'll take real dedication.
  • The Great Whatever
    2.2k
    Okay, let's go ahead with the Derrida, 'Voice' translation preferred. Let's give a little time for everyone interested to get their hands on a copy. I think I will be able to secure a copy on Saturday or Sunday, at which point I'll skim through and get a feel for the structure, to see how we might divide up the reading.
  • Pierre-Normand
    1.6k
    If anyone finds a copy of the original French, let me know.
  • Marty
    163


    Isn't La voix et le phénomène on Library Genesis?

    Although, I'm not finding the English equivalent. At least not the Leonard Lawlor version on there.
  • StreetlightX
    4.3k
    OK some prelim: it's 7 chapters plus an introduction of about 10 to 15 pages each, not including the translator's introduction (for the Lawlor translation). It's 10- 15 pages of density though, not because (I don't think) of obscure formulations, but because Derrida is very economical in his presentation. If he introduces a term or terms, he will launch straight into a discussion of the philosophical imports of those terms without spending alot of time on pedagogy. It requires a very quick uptake of unfamiliar language, but if you can keep track of it, it's entirely readable - but the 'keeping track of' is the hard bit.

    Again, anyone want copies, please PM me.
  • Pierre-Normand
    1.6k
    Isn't La voix et le phénomène on Library Genesis?Marty

    Yes it is! Thanks.
  • csalisbury
    2k
    The difference between the two translations is a bit worrisome to me. I've already found a few passages in the introduction which say entirely different things depending on which version you read.
  • Pierre-Normand
    1.6k
    The difference between the two translations is a bit worrisome to me. I've already found a few passages in the introduction which say entirely different things depending on which version you read.csalisbury

    Could you post a couple of them side by side? I could compare them with the French original and venture an opinion regarding which one, if any, seems to err.
  • StreetlightX
    4.3k
    Took a quick read though the introduction and there's a bit more assumed knowledge in there than I recall (it gets 'easier' when the book 'starts' proper), but here's a violently reductive crash course in phenomenology to help with some orientation:

    The basic operation of phenomenology is to divide the world up into two 'levels' as it were. The mundane world of 'stuff' and the ideal world of sense and meaning. It's kind of the difference between 'scribbles on a page' and 'words imbued with sense'. Methodologically, the idea is to 'bracket' the former while keeping analysis solely at the level of the latter. This is the 'phenomenological/eidetic reduction' or the 'epoche'. It is less a reduction to some substance or another (as is the common use of the word 'reduction') than it is a reduction in the culinary sense of boiling away the unnecessary ingredients to leave you with the important stuff - in this case sense and meaning.

    Minimally, the important thing about meaning (in this context) is that it is 'ideal'. Ideal doesn't mean 'in the head' but rather something like context-invariant and infinitely repeatable. So once you 'fix' a term with a meaning, for example, no matter how one writes it - squiggly, neatly, in Arabic, in code - it's 'meaning' is 'ideal' and all the mundanities of it's 'matter' are irrelevant. Meaning here is a kind of 'form' (in the Platonic sense), which persists across all of it's material 'accidents'. This ideality is a kind of specialness which is 'present to itself'; it is correlated with 'transcendental life', a 'living present', and 'consciousness', as distinct from the 'dead' material 'stuff'. Terminologically, Husserl will refer anything that belongs to this order as 'noema', or as what belongs to the 'noetic sphere'.

    So the question to keep in mind while reading is this: what is the relation between the two 'levels' of the mundane and the transcendental?
  • Pierre-Normand
    1.6k
    That's quite helpful, StreetlightX, thanks.
  • Moliere
    1.7k
    So I'd like to settle on a translation, if that's OK. I've tried to not before and it was pretty distracting. Are other folk OK with choosing one or the other for sure?
  • mcdoodle
    1k
    Are other folk OK with choosing one or the other for sure?Moliere

    I'm going with Lawlor's 'Voice and...' and I chose that thinking that that was the recommended version.
  • csalisbury
    2k
    I've ordered the Lawlor translation as well. I agree, @moliere that too much anxiety over the translation could just stall things entirely, so I'll bracket my concerns for now (tho @Pierre-Normand I'll pm you one particular passage that's causing me some grief)
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