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Abudu, Kenneth U.. Language and Othering in African Contexts
2020, In: Imafidon, E. (ed.) Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference. Cham: Springer, 317-329
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Added by: Björn Freter
Abstract: Postmodern and post-analytic understanding of African thought was primarily a shift from attempts to understand African thought using Western conceptual lenses to attempt to understand African framework of thought from the conceptual scheme of the people whose thought was being studied. This paradigm shift in the study of a people’s culture championed by such scholars as Ludwig Wittgenstein – notable in his shift from the pictorial theory of language to the game theory – had and continues to have very successful results in the attempts by sociologists, anthropologists, and philosophers to understand African (philosophical) thought. We recall, for instance, the insightful studies of Edward E. Evans-Pritchard, Peter Winch, and Robin Horton and the continuous records by ethnophilosophy. What stands out from this shift to conceptual scheme of a people as a means for unraveling their thought and ideas is the importance of language as a factor that cannot be ignored in understanding various aspects of the being, knowing, and acting of a people. This essay follows in this line of reasoning. It focuses on an underexplored area of the role of language in African thought: how language promotes or impedes positive and negative experiences of othering or alterity in African spaces. It argues that language is imperative to understanding the different levels of othering in African societies. It explores four areas where this is obvious: (1) the lack of competence to speak and communicate in the particular language spoken in the African community in which one dwells naturally in others such as person from the community in a manner that may be inimical to her well-being; (2) the ability to speak in a language of an African people to which one was not naturally born to promote positive relation with the self (the speaker) by the other (the community of selves) to the extent of blurring the gap between the self and the other; (3) the power of language to turn a complete stranger to a close friend when two African strangers meet in a foreign land such as in the Diaspora, a friendship formed solely on the basis of the sameness of language; and (4) the manner in which the other in an African place is conceptually represented to express the people’s understanding of and their responsibility toward the other in such a place. The essay concludes that language remains the richest source to explore and the fastest route to follow in the search for a people’s ideas about othering and difference.

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Alena Rettová. Afrophone Philosophy: Reality and Challenges
2007, Středokluky: Zdeněk Susa
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Added by: Sara Peppe, Contributed by: Jonathan Egid
Publisher’s Note:

The point of departure of this publication is philosophy, more precisely African philosophy and the question of the possibility of using African languages in philosophical discourse. This book sees Afrophone literatures as a prominent locus of philosophical discourse in African cultures. In its eleven chapters, the book investigates literary works in African languages and reads them with respect to their contribution to philosophy. Studying Swahili, Ndebele, Shona, Bambara, Yoruba and Lingala literatures, we have found philosophical insights which sometimes amount to no more than philosophical commonplaces, but occasionally make highly original contributions to philosophy. The deeper we penetrated into Afrophone discourses, the more remote became the departure point. The issue of "philosophies in African languages" was both methodologically and empirically settled, and we found ourselves looking for "a philosophy for Afrophone literatures". Philosophy became more of a tool than a goal in this process: it has the conceptual inventory to articulate the insights found in Afrophone literatures. Drawing on both Western and African philosophical traditions, with their concepts and conceptual frameworks, provides these new articulations with the necessary distance to secure a creative reflexion of the literary texts, developing their theme and showing them in a broader context of intellectual history. This book examines literatures in six African languages, from several regions within Bantu Africa (Swahili, Lingala, Shona, Ndebele) and from West Africa (Bambara, Yoruba). With the exception of Yoruba, where (although we know the language to some extent) we used texts collected and translated by other researchers, we have always relied on original texts written (and mostly also published) by their authors.

Comment: A great survey of general approaches to African philosophy in many languages, at the cutting edge of modern research. Great for classes on philosophy and literature or on introductions to global thought best discussed alongside the primary texts it discusses.

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Bauer, Nancy. How to Do Things With Pornography
2015, Harvard Univeristy Press.
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by: Rosa Vince
Publisher's Note: Feminist philosophers have made important strides in altering the overwhelmingly male-centric discipline of philosophy. Yet, in Nancy Bauer’s view, most are still content to work within theoretical frameworks that are fundamentally false to human beings’ everyday experiences. This is particularly intolerable for a species of philosophy whose central aspiration is to make the world a less sexist place. How to Do Things with Pornography models a new way to write philosophically about pornography, women’s self-objectification, hook-up culture, and other contemporary phenomena. Unafraid to ask what philosophy contributes to our lives, Bauer argues that the profession’s lack of interest in this question threatens to make its enterprise irrelevant. Bauer criticizes two paradigmatic models of Western philosophizing: the Great Man model, according to which philosophy is the product of rare genius; and the scientistic model, according to which a community of researchers works together to discover once-and-for-all truths. The philosopher’s job is neither to perpetuate the inevitably sexist trope of the philosopher-genius nor to “get things right.” Rather, it is to compete with the Zeitgeist and attract people to the endeavor of reflecting on their settled ways of perceiving and understanding the world. How to Do Things with Pornography boldly enlists J. L. Austin’s How to Do Things with Words, showing that it should be read not as a theory of speech acts but as a revolutionary conception of what philosophers can do in the world with their words.

Comment: This book has chapters that will be useful for feminism modules, including critiques of the pornography and silencing literature, and on objectification, and self-objectification. It also contains plenty of witty critiques of white male dominated western philosophy.

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Humphreys. Animal Thoughts on Factory Farms: Michael Leahy, Language and Awareness of Death
2008, Between the Species 13 (8): 1-16
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Rebekah Humphreys
Abstract:

Abstract: The idea that language is necessary for thought and emotion is a dominant one in philosophy. Animals have taken the brunt of this idea, since it is widely held that language is exclusively human. Michael Leahy makes a case against the moral standing of factory-farmed animals based on such ideas. His approach is Wittgensteinian: understanding is a thought process that requires language, which animals do not possess. But he goes further than this and argues that certain factory farming methods do not cause certain sufferings to the animals used, since animals lack full awareness of their circumstances. In particular he argues that animals do not experience certain sufferings at the slaughterhouse since, lacking language, they are unaware of their fate . Through an analysis of Leahy’s claims this paper aims to explore and challenge both the idea that thought and emotion require language and that only humans possess language

Comment: Good for teaching issues in animal ethics as they relate to the cognitive capacities of animals.

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Ibanga, Diana-Abasi, Bassey Eyo, Emmanuel. African Indigenous Languages and the Advancement of African Philosophy
2018, Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies. 12 (5): 208-217.
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Added by: Sara Peppe and Björn Freter
Abstract: The contention raised in this research is to showcase that indigenous African languages are imperative tools in advancing African philosophy and thought. By extension the genuiness and originality of African philosophical thought is best advanced when it is vocalized and transliterated in the mother tongue of the philosopher. When African philosophical thought is done and articulated in language foreign to the philosopher, then that philosophical thought is weakened within the conceptual expression and foundation. It is also contended that, indigenous languages would address perennial problem of inadequacies of languages especially where there are no direct replacement of concept and terms to explain reality and other state of affairs.

Comment: Diana-Abasi Ibanga and Emmanuel Bassey Eyo’s paper African Indigenous Languages and the Advancement of African Philosophy is a fundamental text to understand the role of indigenous languages in the advancement of African philosophy. Bassey Eyo and Ibanga underline that the concepts expressed in foreign languages convey African philosophy thoughts more weakly. Moreover, this paper highlights the need to philosophize in the African language, which would enable African philosophers to convey concepts precisely, and avoid inadequately translating their thoughts.

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Leslie, Sarah-Jane. Carving up the Social World with Generics
2014, in: T. Lombrozo, J. Knobe, and S. Nichols (eds.) Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy Volume 1, Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Simon Fokt
Summary (Diversifying Syllabi): Leslie argues that generic language has an effect on social cognition. Specifically, generic language plays a role in the way small children develop concepts related to abilities, which facilitates the transmission and development of social prejudices.

Comment: This text can support classes on social cognition, the social nature of language, and essentialism (including social and psychological essentialism). It will also serve well as an introduction to generics in philosophy of language. In philosophy of gender and race classes it can offers a good illustration of how stereotypes are created.

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McLeod, Alexus. Philosophy of the Ancient Maya: Lords of Time
2018, Lexington Books
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Added by: M. Jimena Clavel Vázquez and Andrés Hernández Villarreal
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This book investigates some of the central topics of metaphysics in the philosophical thought of the Maya people of Mesoamerica, particularly from the Preclassic through Postclassic periods. This book covers the topics of time, change, identity, and truth, through comparative investigation integrating Maya texts and practices — such as Classic Period stelae, Postclassic Codices, and Colonial-era texts such as the î and the books of Chilam Balam — and early Chinese philosophy.

Comment: In the preface and conclusion, McLeod introduces some relevant methodological aspects that must be considered in order to understand Mayan philosophy. The first one, is that of the nature of the sources from which we can reconstruct Mayan philosophical thought that are available to use. Unlike the source of Ancient Mexica intellectual culture which are relatively abundant, the availability of Mayan sources is more limited. The second one, is about the nature of Mayan language: written Maya consists of pictograms which represent both ideograms or glyphs and syllabic sounds. The author also discusses the fact that some forms of Mayan languages and Mayan peoples are alive. Finally, this section of McLeod’s book also discusses the philosophical concepts of truth and personhood.

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Millikan, Ruth. In Defense of Proper Functions
1989, Philosophy of Science, 56 (1989): 288-302.
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Added by: Jamie Collin
Abstract: I defend the historical definition of "function" originally given in my Language, Thought and Other Biological Categories (1984a). The definition was not offered in the spirit of conceptual analysis but is more akin to a theoretical definition of "function". A major theme is that nonhistorical analyses of "function" fail to deal adequately with items that are not capable of performing their functions.

Comment: This paper is something of a classic, and would be useful in a course on philosophy of science, philosophy of biology, philosophy of mind or philosophy of language. Though the paper is not technical, it is not easy and would be most suitable for advanced undergraduate or graduate courses. The paper also functions as a good example of an important attempt to naturalise a central normative notion.

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Myambo, Melissa Tandiwe . Class Identity, Xenophobia, and Xenophilia. Nuancing Migrant Experience in South Africa’s Diverse Cultural Time Zones
2020, In: Imafidon, E. (ed.) Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference. Cham: Springer, 465-488
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Added by: Björn Freter
Abstract: In 2008 and 2015, South Africa’s most deadly and violent xenophobic attacks erupted. Dozens of people were killed and thousands displaced. The dominant storyline in the media and the academy cast the figure of the migrant as the perpetual victim of xenophobia and as the ultimate Other. There was not enough emphasis on nuancing that statement to indicate that it is not all migrants who run the risk of deadly xenophobia even though xenophobia is pervasive across all South African socioeconomic classes. Deadly attacks only took place in specific microspaces, or Cultural Time Zones (CTZs). Those living in the CTZ of the informal settlement (shanty town) were most vulnerable. Migrants in economically privileged CTZs like the wealthy suburbs do not typically become victims of xenophobic violence. In this paper, I attempt to examine the relationship between (micro)space and migrant experience. Through an analysis of South African cities as a cluster of radically different CTZs where language, skin color, race/ethnicity, education, socioeconomic class, etc. function in different ways to impact the migrant experience, I try to uncover the nuanced reasons why working-class migrants who work and live in socioeconomically deprived CTZs may experience violent xenophobia, while middle-class professionals, especially those from Western countries, often enjoy high levels of xenophilia. This chapter employs the philosophy of Cultural Time Zone theory to explain this paradox and explore how some migrants are considered culturally “closer” to the South African Self, while some are viewed as culturally more “distant” Others.

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Patterson, Sarah. The explanatory role of belief ascriptions
1990, Philosophical Studies 59 (3):313-32.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt
Abstract: The aim of this paper is to argue that belief ascription in common- sense discourse is not uniformly non-individualistic, as Burge's conclusion suggests. (In concentrating on belief ascriptions I follow the usual practice of treating belief as the paradigm propositional attitude.) I shall present some examples which suggest that when giving common-sense explanations of action we do not individuate thoughts with reference to agents' linguistic environment in the manner indicated by Burge's thought-experiment. The challenge supposedly presented to the Continuity Thesis by Burge's thought-experiment is thus removed. I then discuss whether the mode of individuation characteristic of our explanatory practice deserves to be called individualistic, and conclude with some remarks on the expressibility of thought contents.

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Sarukkai, Sundar. What is science?
2012, National Book Trust, India.
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Added by: Laura Jimenez
Summary: This book serves as an excellent introduction to Indian philosophy from the standpoint of the Nyãya-Vaisesika worldview. The book is divided into six chapters: (i) Introduction; (ii) Doubt (including sections like "Types of Doubt" and "Limits of Doubt"); (iii) Indian Logic (in which Dignaga, Dharmakïrti, and a "Summary of Themes in Indian Logic Relevant to Philosophy of Science" are discussed); (iv) Logic in Science: The Western Way (dealing, among other things, with induction, deduction, and laws and counterfactuals); (v) Science in Logic: The Indian Way? ; and (vi) Knowledge, Truth and Language (including sections with titles like the Pramäna Theory, Truth in Western and Indian Philosophies and Science, Effability, and Bhartrhai).

Comment: The book is recommendable, not only as an introduction to significant and basic themes in Indian philosophy, but also for insightful details in explaining several complex ideas in science and philosophy and for a clear explication of the Indian contribution to discussions on them. Could be suitable for both undergratuates and postgraduates.

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Stojanovic, Isidora. What is Said, Linguistic Meaning, and Directly Referential Expressions
2006, Philosophy Compass 1 (4):373-397.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Thomas Hodgson
Abstract: Philosophers of language distinguish among the lexical or linguistic meaning of the sentence uttered, what is said by an utterance of the sentence, and speaker's meaning, or what is conveyed by the speaker to her audience. In most views, what is said is the semantic or truth-conditional content of the utterance, and is irreducible either to the linguistic meaning or to the speaker's meaning. I will show that those views account badly for people's intuitions on what is said. I will also argue that no distinguished level of what is said is required, and that the notion of linguistic meaning is the best placed to play the role of what is said. This relies on two points. First, our intuitions on what is said cannot be detached from the ways in which we talk about what is said, and from the semantics of speech reports and indirect discourse in general. Second, besides what is said, there is an equally important notion of what what-is-said is said about, or that about which the speaker is talking. These are, then, the three main ingredients needed for the theory of what is said: linguistic meaning, what is talked about, and a semantic account of reported speech

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Taylor, Kenneth A.. Truth and Meaning: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Language
1998, Oxford: Blackwell.
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Added by: Nick Novelli
Summary: This lucid and wide-ranging volume constitutes a self-contained introduction to the elements and key issues of the philosophy of language. In particular, it focuses on the philosophical foundations of semantics, including the main challenges to and prospects for a truth conditional semantics. Since the book is neither single-mindedly philosophical, nor single-mindedly technical, it is an accessible introduction to the philosophical foundations of semantics, and will provide the ideal basis for a first course in the philosophy of language and philosophical logic.

Comment: This book offers a good introduction to theories of meaning, and includes some good, clear presentations of specialised systems of logic used in philosophy of language, giving students a good example of the existence and practical usefulness of logic beyond first-order. Chapter 3, on Tarski's formal theory of truth, is one of the better treatments of that subject available. Suitable for undergraduate and graduate teaching.

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Vaughan-Lee, Emmanuel. Marie’s Dictionary
2014, Self-Produced. 10min. USA.
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Added by: Sonja Dobroski and Quentin Pharr
Abstract: This short documentary tells the story of Marie Wilcox, the last fluent speaker of the Wukchumni language, and the dictionary she created to keep her language alive. For Ms. Wilcox, the Wukchumni language has become her life. She has spent more than twenty years working on the dictionary and continues to refine and update the text. Through her hard work and dedication, she has created a document that will support the revitalization of the Wukchumni language for decades to come. Along with her daughter, Jennifer Malone, she travels to conferences throughout California and meets other tribes who struggle with language loss. Ms. Wilcox’s tribe, the Wukchumni, is not recognized by the federal government. It is part of the broader Yokuts tribal group native to Central California. Before European contact, as many as 50,000 Yokuts lived in the region, but those numbers have steadily diminished. Today, it is estimated that fewer than 200 Wukchumni remain.

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