Language,Expression, Aesthetics

Country: Canada

City: Toronto

Abstr. due: 14.12.2018

Dates: 22.03.19 — 23.03.19

Area Of Sciences: Philosophy; Humanities;

Organizing comittee e-mail:

Organizers: Department of Philosophy, Ryerson University


Ryerson University is now accepting papers for its 2019 Graduate Conference “Language, Expression, Aesthetics”. The purpose of the conference is to explore the relationship between the philosophy of language and the philosophy of art.

The linguistic turn in twentieth century philosophy can be understood as the attempt to solve philosophical problems by attaining a clearer view about the language that we use and how it works. It is in this context that Michael Dummett has maintained that “the philosophy of language is first philosophy”. Other trends in philosophy put the very status of language itself in question. Donald Davidson for one has provocatively claimed that “there is no such thing as language, not if a language is anything like what many philosophers and linguists have supposed”. Further developments in the continental tradition have also complicated the matter. Jacques Derrida famously claimed that “there is no outside-text,” while Martin Heidegger, in his later stages, argued that the study of metaphysics is inextricably bound to the history of the West, which has itself culminated in a cultural nihilism that leads him to conclude that philosophy itself should give way to a thinking that seems to largely be informed by an understanding of poetry.


There are of course other trends and arguments but it is in the context of these problems that this conference seeks to address the following question: how do questions concerning the status of language and the status of art inform each other? Possible topics for papers include but are not limited to:


  • How do the cultural norms that shape language influence art?

  • Can the explanatory entities picked out by the philosophy of language help explain artistic
    phenomenon? Or vice versa?

  • Can philosophical questions of art be reduced to questions about language?

  • How does conceptual analysis help clarify art meaning?

  • Does art or philosophy have a privileged relationship to the “nature” of things?

  • Can language accurately “picture” experience?

  • Can language go beyond expressing cognitive content?

  • Can all experiences be expressed in words? Or is there an ineffability to experience?

  • Must language be verbal or linguistic? What kinds of possibilities are there for “non-verbal” and non-linguistic approaches to art?

  • What is the “language of cinema” and how might it be understood?

  • What is the correlation between art and subversive expression?

  • To what extent do developments in literature problematize the philosophy of language?

Conference Web-Site: