Tuesday, June 4 6:00 pm
Claudiana, Claudiasaal, Herzog-Friedrich-Str. 3
Please register by May 29: evg-archiv@uibk.ac.at

Barry Allen
McMaster University, Hamilton/Ontario, Canada

Language Games and the Deconstruction of Epistemology

My allusion to the deconstruction of epistemology refers specifically to the argument of American philosopher Richard Rorty in his book Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (1979).
In that work, Rorty invokes Wittgenstein and some others in an argument to the effect that the textbook topics of epistemology have no philosophical merit.
Rorty likes Wittgenstein’s idea that the meaning of signs depends on their place in a language-game. He applies this argument to the language of mental life and concludes that consciousness and introspection are mythical powers that mystify the language we use to describe ourselves.
Despite Rorty’s generous promotion of Wittgenstein as an inspiration, the truth is that Wittgenstein is no more than a minor figure in Rorty’s argument, an argument that could not possibly be extrapolated from Wittgenstein’s work alone.

Barry Allen

Barry Allen is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at McMaster University, Ontario, Canada and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. His work in philosophy concentrates on the concept of knowledge, which he studies from interdisciplinary and multi-cultural perspectives, addressing a wide audience in contemporary and comparative philosophy and the human sciences. His books explore the relationship of art to knowledge and knowledge to civilization, and compare Chinese and Western ideas about knowledge. He is the author of Truth in Philosophy (1993), Knowledge and Civilization (2004), Art and Technology in Human Experience (2008), Knowledge in Chinese Tradition (2015), A Philosophical Look at the Asian Martial Arts (2015) and Empiricisms: Experience and Experiment from Antiquity to the Anthropocene (2020).