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Why Study Language?

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Jason put a few paragraphs into Facebook about the criticism of the Linguistic Turn in Philosophy by Brand Blanshard, a Philosopher. My response follows and tells why I still consider the Philosophy of Language important. To read this philosopher’s words cited by Jason see http://www.facebook.com/notes/jason-zarri/quote-of-the-day-brand-blanshard-on-linguistic-philosophy/10150311316599801

Sorry, you may have to sign in on facebook to read Jason’s quotation.

Now read my response:

I have another reason for studying language and perhaps that is what Blanshard means by its being “guided by something other than itself.” In what way is language per se action, how are speech acts nested in language acts, and language acts nested in language events, and how does that bring about historical social movements? Mine is the interest in concrete words rather than abstract ideas and how they might involve movement in a way that ideas do not.

Then I’m also interested in the question about the organism of a language as opposed to other languages and as opposed to abstract systems and what the relationship could be between social systems and the organic “system” of a language.

Finally, just thinking off the top of my head, what did theologians mean by God’s speaking creation into existence?

I don’t think that is about “splitting fine hairs into finer hairs.” I realize that focusing on what language is speaking about makes language disappear (almost) and focusing on language makes what you are speaking about disappear. But language could be much more than the embodied consciousness of reality. It probably plays a big role in changing realities. That interest has been mine since translating Marx: “Philosophers have variously interpreted the world; the point however is to change it” into Max Weber: we can’t live out of realities, but we live out of the source of strength that can change them. That is how I reinterpreted Marx after reading the sociology of Max Weber. I believe that source of strength, that grace of God, for making inhuman realities more human, healing, and wholesome, might be accessible through language . [Or rather that particular aspect of language which makes it into God’s way of encountering us.]

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