• Language,  Philosophy of Language,  Theology,  Trinity

    Language and Fellowship

    “Aphasia, the loss of language following a brain injury, is devastating, and in severe cases family members may feel that the whole person is lost forever.” (Stephen Pinker, The Language Instinct, 2). Is fellowship possible without language? I don’t mean without the constant presence of language. Two people might not talk for a while but feel close to one another, but what if they never spoke to one another. What if, in the very nature of things, no one spoke? I suppose we could not know what our fellowship would be like. Would we be able to communicate in some way – by looking at each other? Perhaps we really…

  • Epistemology,  Philosophical Theology,  Philosophy of Education,  Philosophy of Language,  Philosophy of Linguistics

    Classical Education: Loving the Rock of Reality

    “Why Latin? Why Logic? Why only ‘great’ books?”  Such are the questions levied at the classicist. They are good questions, but the best answers are not found in pragmatics, a list of the benefits of a classical education. Instead, the reason anyone ultimately prefers a classical approach to education is that she holds to a classical worldview. I say ‘ultimately’ because pragmatic answers don’t count for nothing. One cannot help using them in class to garner support for Latin verb endings. “Throughout history, the best authors were great Latinists” I said the other day. I had in mind one student whose mother had told me that she would like to…

  • Ethics,  Language,  Philosophy of Language

    Pronounambulation

    My paper can no more make an argument than my computer can hope for a Cubs win. People write papers and in those papers people express propositions in sentences that constitute arguments. ‘I’ is the first person pronoun and I use it to refer to myself, the person writing the paper. If I want to tell you something I am going to do in my paper, I will tell you that I will be the one doing it: “In this paper, I will argue…” ‘One’ is a personal pronoun referring to anyone to which some property or other might apply. If I say, ‘one might argue ~q’, I am referring to…

  • Philosophy of Language,  Philosophy of Linguistics

    Katzching Platonism

    Jerold Katz According to Chomskian nativism, the necessary condition for language acquisition is the possession of an innate knowledge of the rules of grammar. His reasoning for thinking that human beings have an innate knowledge of grammar is that human beings are able to learn vastly complex natural languages from a relatively limited exposure to those languages. Thus, Chomsky suggests that there must be some innately possessed knowledge of grammar that is universally possessed by human beings. Such a grammar must also be sufficiently similar across the brains that possess it. Jerold Katz argues that Chomsky’s psychologism is insufficient to account for necessary truths: Chomsky’s psychologism actually denies the possibility of…

  • Education,  Language,  Philosophy of Education,  Philosophy of Language

    Grammar and Normativity

    In Chapter 2 of Gwynne’s Grammar, Nevile Gwynne claims that happiness is partly dependent upon good grammar: “If we don’t use words rightly, we shall not think rightly” “If we do not think rightly, we cannot reliably decide rightly, because good decisions depend on accurate thinking” “If we do not decide rightly, we shall make a mess of our lives and also of other people’s lives to the extent that we have an influence on other people” “If we make a mess of our lives, we shall make ourselves and other people unhappy” Therefore, “Happiness depends at least partly on good grammar” Premise (1) suggests that good grammar is the…

  • Linguistics,  Philosophy of Education,  Philosophy of Language,  Philosophy of Linguistics

    Snowflakes and the Origin of Language

    According to Chomsky, nothing has happened to language in about 50,000 years. Take any child from any place from any time within the last 50,000 years and put him in a family in Boston in 2017 and he will grow up speaking like a Bostonian. Prior to 50,000 years ago, there was no such thing as language. Something happened in a small space of time that gave us language. Some rewiring of the brain occurred and gave rise to a mechanism. The mechanism is like a snowflake – it is the way it is because nature produces it that way. In the same way a snowflake is need of no…

  • Animal Cognition,  Philosophy of Language,  Philosophy of Mind

    Dogish?

    To varying degrees, I have learned Greek, Latin, German, French, and English, but dogish lies out of my reach. My grandmother spoke to her dog, but the snuffly little pug’s responses never sounded anything like what my grandmother said to him. She said things like, “I do before to be a hudra hud,” which meant “good dog.” To request a photograph of the dog one would ask if it minded having its “wotytook.” As a boy, I was sure it was a real language, but it wasn’t – twas fun, but not dogish. Con Slobodchikoff says he has learnt the real thing, at least some of it, and only prairie…

  • Language,  Philosophy of Language,  Trinity,  Wittgenstein

    Language, Mind(s) and Propositions in the Trinity

    God speaks. The Bible records the first speech and God makes it. If the chronology of scripture is to be believed, God could speak prior to creation and, therefore, God can speak sans creation. He could use a language in eternity past. This seems clear: he is the first to utter a word (Gen 1); he determines the world and everything in it including all the languages, sentences, and what they mean prior to creation; and God, the Son, is identified as the “Word” that pre-exists creation (John 1). He doesn’t actually have to say anything, but he has to be able to express his thoughts in a language. On…