volume LXI, number 77, November 2016


Procedures and Representation in Lexical Semantics

Carmen Curcó

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Abstract: The semantic notion of procedural meaning was originally proposed as a way to explain the contribution of non-conceptual vocabulary to interpretation. Procedural elements were seen as encoding instructions to perform pragmatic inferences. Their rigidity, as opposed to the malleability of conceptual meaning, led to the idea of two types of lexical semantics for natural languages, one conceptual and another procedural. Recently, however, the study of natural and spontaneous behaviours ostensively used, in combination with the influence of the massive modularity view of the mind, have brought a different perspective about the role of procedural elements in language. According to this stance, procedural elements would have a wider role, operating more generally as triggers of cognitive processes which are in principle external to language, but that are crucially involved in communication. Their role as orientators of pragmatic inference is only one of such processes. Here I support this view. On the other hand, it has become increasingly difficult to maintain a view of conceptual meaning that assumes that words encode concepts, or concept schemas. To tackle the problems this view faces, I suggest that conceptual items share with procedural ones precisely such a triggering function. I argue that semantic encoding is never constitutive, and I suggest that both types of semantics consist in activating informative structures and mental processes conventionally associated to the lexical items of natural languages. Key words: procedural meaning, cognition, communication, lexical semantics, pragmatics

The “Language” of Non-Human Animals in al-Fārābī’s Commentary on Aristotle’s De Interpretatione

Luis Xavier López Farjeat

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Abstract: In De Interpretatione Aristotle distinguishes between articulate and inarticulate voices. While articulate voices are a combination of vowels and consonants, inarticulate voices would be any sound uttered by non-human animals. Nevertheless, al-Fārābī debated this view. In his Long Commentary on the De Interpretatione, he amends Aristotle’s position and develops an argumentation that takes into account some considerations regarding nonhuman animals’ behavior found in Aristotle’s treatises on animals. After presenting al-Fārābī’s views concerning the “language” of non-human animals, I briefly discuss to what extent the capacities of non-human animals to express and communicate themselves broadens our comprehension of what we might understand by language. Key words: animal cognition, language, al-Fārābī, Aristotle, Islamic philosophy

Mimesis and mathesis: about their connections in Aristotle’s Poetics

Mariana Castillo Merlo

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Abstract: The aim of this paper is to show the relevance of mathesis for the Aristotelian concept of mimesis. From the framework of Poetics, I try to demarcate the characteristics of learning, taking into account its object, modality, and consequences. In order to do this, I will analyze, first, the object of mimetic learning, that is, men who act. Then, I will examine the modality of presentation of their actions that make learning possible, paying special attention to the role played by tragic mistake or hamartía. Finally, I will highlight the aspects on account of which, in my opinion, mimesis has relevant ethical and political consequences in the framework of Aristotle’s educational project, and which allow passing from a consideration of mimesis on an individual level to a political level. Key words: paideia, men in action, tragic mistake, learning

Merleau-Ponty and the Ontology of Nature: Intercorporality, Negativity, and Dialectics

Maximiliano Basilio Cladakis

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Abstract: The aim of the following work is to explain how the elaboration of an ontology of nature by Merleau-Ponty belongs to an attempt of developing a thought of being which does not reduce it to an element of the abstract thought, but takes into account the concrete experience of being in the world. In this respect, the concepts of intercorporeality, negativity, and dialectics are fundamental. Key words: phenomenology, intersubjectivity, body, Sartre, flesh

Kant in the Controversy on Spinozism: Critical Rationality as an Overcoming of the Dichotomy Between Reason and Faith

Ileana Paola Beade

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Abstract: This paper analyzes the position taken by Kant in the controversy of Spinozism, which engaged many important thinkers of the German Enlightenment in a debate on the scope and limits of reason. With the publication of Was heisst: Sich im Denken orientiren? (1786), Kant takes part in the debate and rejects both the position adopted by Jacobi —who regards reason as incapable of reaching a demonstration of God’s existence and thus proclaims the necessity of a “leap of faith”—, and Mendelssohn’s position, who trusts in the possibilities of reason to reach such a demonstration. By means of a conception of reason as a critical and autonomous faculty, Kant attempts to go beyond both positions, and sets the scope and limits of reason in regard to the representation of God as the originating being. The concept of reason developed within the framework of the critical project exhibits its unavoidable political dimension in the text of 1786. Kant establishes there a connection between reason, critique, publicity, and politics that goes beyond the margins of the controversy and addresses fundamental issues regarding the political and juridical conditions required for an autonomous exercise of reason. However, despite the radical character of Kant’s proposals, the rationalistic naturalization of religious belief represents a limit to his critical philosophy, and should be revised by the lights of current criteria. Key words: requirement of reason, rational belief, autonomy, publicity, politics