Vol 3, Issue 2
Artwork by David Alexander Smith
Table of Contents
Vincent Descombes is a French philosopher. He has taught at the University of Montréal, Johns Hopkins University, and Emory University. Presently, he is director of studies at the École des Hautes É tudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, and regular visiting professor at the University of Chicago in the Department of Romance. Descombes’s main areas of research are in the philosophy of mind, philosophy of language and philosophy of literature. The following interview covers various aspects of his research in the philosophy of mind and language: semantic anti-realism, phenomenology, the content of mental states, description and transparency, the linguistic turn, metaphysics and linguistic analysis, fictional names and animal intentionality.
The present paper studies the conceptualization of anger by native speakers of English. The conceptual study of emotions has a well known tradition among linguists (Köveceses 1986, 1995a, 1995b, 2000; Lakoff 1987; Lakoff & Kövecses, 1987; Geeraerts & Grondelaers, 1995; Gevaert 2005). When dealing with the study of emotions from a linguistic perspective it is important to differentiate, following Foolen (1997), between the spontaneous expression of an emotion and the description of it . This paper focuses on the latter. Following Kövecses (2000) I attempt at showing how some aspects of the folk concept of anger are illustrated in English pop fiction stories by the use of specific linguistic constructs.
Fictional and non - fictional texts rely on the same language to express their meaning; yet many philosophers in the analytic tradition would say, with reason, that fictional texts literally make no truth claims, or more modestly that the rhetorical and literary devices (e.g., metaphor) to which fiction and non-fiction writers alike have recourse are unconnected to truth or have no propositional content. These related views are associated with a doctrine in the philosophy of language, most notably advanced by the late Donald Davidson, which holds that we understand the semantic structure of a language by applying to it a theory of truth, which involves discovering the truth conditions of its sentences. This approach to semantic theory raises several seemingly intractable problems, such as the problem of stating the meaning of non-declarative sentences, e .g. questions and imperatives. The chief aim of this paper will be to try to dispel these problems by suggesting an adjustment in Davidson’s account of the relation of truth to meaning, one which will also allow us to picture such troublesome linguistic items as metaphor within a semantic theory, and to expand the range of objects which can be brought into a general theory of meaning.
This paper will evaluate whether Aristotle’s discussion of friendship in the Nicomachean Ethics (references to Irwin translation, 1999) points towards a plausible account of friendship. We shall evaluate Whiting’s claim (1991) that Aristotle provides us with a model of how friendship should be and is at its best, even if most friendships do not live up to this. Whiting’s view centres on a view of friendship as grounded on mutual admiration of ethical character. Whilst there is appeal in the idea, stressed by Whiting, that friendship is grounded upon a kind of impersonal admiration, Aristotelian metaphysics restricts us to a single vision of the human good and prevents us from admiring different people in different ways. It will be argued that supplementation with a more pluralistic notion of human nature can help to bolster the account. Following Telfer (1970), it shall further be argued that the grounds of a friendship must be seen to include elements of a sharing of perspectives and not be limited to mutual admiration of character. Whilst Telfer’s criticism does expose a blindspot in Aristotle, it will be argued that it is a criticism which an Aristotelian account can deal with.