Although discretion often prevents us from saying it openly, languages such as Yanomami, Ainu, Ket, and Sámi are generally held by academic philosophers to be non-philosophical languages, from which one must depart if one wishes to start doing philosophy. This judgment of them goes together with their status as non-cosmopolitan languages. That is, philosophy, throughout its long history and very much still today, is presumed to be an activity that may be pursued only in languages that may pretend to universality. Is this presumption well-founded? In this talk, I would like to explore what it is like to speak a language that may not pretend to universality, in the ultimate aim of showing why familiarity with such languages may be an important source of philosophical insight.
Justin E. H. Smith is professor of history and philosophy of science at the University of Paris. He is the author of the forthcoming book, “The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is”(Princeton University Press, 2022) as well as of four other books published with Princeton. He is currently translating the Sakha (Yakut) oral epic, Olonkho, for the World Literature in Translation series of the University of California Press.
For more info, please see https://www.jehsmith.com/
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