Steve Cooke

measuring the boundaries of our nation by the sun


In which philosophy of language proves somewhat soporific

It’s been a surprisingly busy week, and I’m rapidly learning that I should aim for just one of these readings per week and treat any I manage above that as a bonus.

Today I managed a chapter on the philosophy of language (by Martin Davies), which I selected because I find the field somewhat intimidating. I suspect that this is down to having studied politics for my degree and only come to philosophy during my PhD – philosophy of language is one of those areas that looks like it’s intimately connected with the very formal study of philosophy as an academic discipline.

Philosophy of language is concerned with linguistic meaning – whether of linguistic utterances or of the very idea of linguistic meaning itself. Davies’ chapter is clearly written, and its subject matter turned out not to be nearly as terrifyingly hard as I’d always imagined. However, I did come away from reading it with the realisation that this is definitely not an area of philosophy that I’ll be intentionally delving into again any time soon because, aside from its intersections with philosophy of mind, it seems astonishingly boring. I confess that, as a result, I skimmed several sections of the second half of the chapter. In my defence, it was a very long chapter and there wasn’t a single crazy hypothetical to snag my attention anywhere to be found!