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The Fundamental Role of Language


About the course

Important dates and deadlines

This course has been canceled this semester. 


It is considered a truism that a well-functioning language is a crucial tool for successful communication in all walks of life.

However, the fact that language to a large extent influences the way we conceive ourselves, others, society and the surrounding inorganic as well as organic reality and thus the various social and natural sciences is neither a well-established view, nor properly understood.

The aim of this course is to rectify this deficiency by a careful study of the nature and function of language; showing how it influences the way the social sciences develop, i.e. how conceptions of language shape the fundamental ideas in the philosophy of the social sciences.

Answers to questions of the similarities/differences between the natural and social sciences; the nature of objectivity and explanations in the social sciences; the role of values and interpretations (hermeneutics) in the social sciences and a number of related questions all rely on (too often unconscious and therefore unexamined) assumptions on the nature and function of language.

We will start with an historical overview of the most important/influential conceptions of language, focusing on the major contributions during the 20th century (Wittgenstein, Chomsky/Fodor, Taylor) and continue with a discussion of how these different conceptions/theories of language effect the main conceptual issues/questions in some of the social sciences (psychology, sociology, social anthropology, political science, economics, social work, education, gender studies and communication studies).