A COURSE IN ANALYTIC PHILOSOPHY OF LANGUAGE FOR A RUSSIAN AUDIENCE: ISSUES AND CHALLENGES

Publication Type:

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Transliteration of original Title: 
Analiticheskaya filosofiya yazyka: k voprosu o postroenii lektsionnogo kursa
Author(s): 
Petr Kusliy
Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences
Issue number: 
No. 4 (Vol. 38)
Pages: 
117-135The article deals with methodological issues of teaching a semester introductory course in philosophy of language to the students with philosophy major in Russia. The author discusses the challenges that an instructor of philosophy of language face
Abstract: 

The article deals with methodological issues of teaching a semester introductory course in philosophy of language to the students with philosophy major in Russia. The author discusses the challenges that an instructor of philosophy of language faces in general and with Russian students in particular.

The general problem for such a course is the broadness of the topic. A more than a hundred year old tradition that influenced almost all parts of contemporary philosophy has to be shrinked into limits of one semester – an impossible objective if one aims to cover or even mention all these topics. The only reasonable stance that is usually taken by instructors is to give their audience a perspective on what can be considered a nucleus of philosophy of language. The question is what exactly is to be treaded as such a nucleus. The most popular choice is to give a brief history of the discipline covering the fundamental texts and issues of the classic of analytic philosophy. This however, according to the author, has its shortcomings. The course becomes historical and deprives the students of an attempt to think and discuss issues in philosophy of language themselves. So, it is argued that a course in philosophy of language must have a focus on a particular problematic within the discipline.

The specificity of Russian philosophy students also has its facets that are discussed in the article in their relation to its main issue. Many philosophy students are equipped with sporadic historical philosophical knowledge, they often have general acquaintance with the content of philosophical teachings of different times and epochs but they very often lack competence in logic and theory of argumentation, they are not focused on one particular problem in their research and are often disposed to speculations in their reasoning. The author argues that it is the responsibility of the instructor to deal with such specifics of her audience and, therefore, she needs to present the content of the course taking these specifics into account. The author discusses handouts (not at all popular among instructors in Russia) as one way to overcome the difficulties in dealing with the audience. The advantages of handouts in the courses in philosophy are discussed.

An example of a houndout is provided. It deals with some fundamental issues within formal philosophy of language: metatheoretical restrictions on semantic theories. Among others such notions as truth-conditional semantics, model theory, compositionality, function analysis, extensionality and contextuality are discussed.

Keywords: 
teaching philosophy, philosophy in Russia, philosophy of language, semantics.
References: 

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