Title: Zhuangzi and Plato: Language – World – Language
Stream: Comparative Philosophy
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation
Raz Shpeizer, Kaye Academic College of Education, Israel
At the beginning of the 20th century language had become the focal point of Western philosophy, displacing epistemology and metaphysics, with which philosophy had traditionally dealt. Even as the philosophy of language has begun to lose its privileged status in the last few decades, it still remains a substantial branch of Western and world philosophy. However, a closer look at the early days of world philosophy reveals that the study of language was integral to philosophical investigations, and that language occupied a prominent place – whether explicitly or implicitly – in establishing comprehensive philosophical systems. Indeed, Zhuangzi and Plato represent early stages in the evolution of world philosophy and, as is well-known, contributed, to a great extent, to the development of the Chinese and Western philosophy. These two philosophers come from two very different cultural contexts and differ in their philosophical orientation and views – which seem to stand in opposition, and, yet, for both language played a major role in the construction of their philosophies. In this lecture I will therefore explore how Plato and Zhuangzi understood language, and how these understandings correlate with their worldview and their writing styles. Based on philosophical theories of language and thought, particularly those of Jacques Derrida and Chad Hansen, I will consider some possible explanations for the differences between the two philosophers, which relate to the specific cultural and linguistic background of the philosophical traditions which they helped to create and to which they belonged.
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