Oslo Mind Group Seminar: Anna Drożdżowicz, What About Reading?

We will be discussing a draft of ‘What About Reading?’ by Anna Drożdżowicz.

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Photo: Pixabay

Abstract: It has been argued that competent language users can have experiences of understanding linguistic utterances (e.g. Hunter 1998; Fricker 2003; Brogaard 2018; Longworth 2018). In recent years, the nature of such experiences has been the subject of heated discussions. Many of these philosophical debates have proceeded largely in abstraction from issues of the specific sensory modality (auditory or visual) to which linguistic utterances are presented, with some notable exceptions where the focus has been on experiences of understanding in spoken linguistic comprehension (e.g. O’Callaghan 2011).

Reading, despite being a pervasive and important form of linguistic comprehension, has not been systematically considered in this debate. Do sensory modalities involved in linguistic comprehension lead to experiences of understanding of a different or a similar kind? Is abstracting away from the import of sensory modalities a methodologically sound approach? The goal of this paper is to make progress on these questions by investigating differences and similarities between the cases of comprehending spoken and written linguistic utterances, with a special focus on reading. The results will be somewhat surprising.

After discussing some systematic differences between the two cases, I will present some evidence which could suggest that linguistic comprehension in both cases might result in experiences of understanding of (roughly) the same kind. I will explain what consequences these observations might have for the existing views in the debate about states of understanding.

Note: this is a ‘read-ahead’ work-in-progress seminar and will take place via Microsoft Teams.

A copy of the paper for discussion will be made available in advance via the ‘Seminar’ channel of the Oslo Mind Group team, which is open to all University of Oslo members, or is available upon request from the organizer for non-UiO users (see below). All are welcome to attend.


Keith Wilson
Published Nov. 24, 2020 10:28 AM - Last modified Dec. 2, 2020 12:50 PM