Philosophers have always been interested in what it is for a creature to count as a language-using animal, a speaker; but few have connected this with the capacity to contribute to a conversation - to have something to say for oneself; and fewer still have thought that the idea of conversation or discourse might be an illuminating model for the structure or nature of linguistic understanding more generally, and indeed for language as a whole. In this lecture I want to discuss two rather different recent attempts to do this, developed by Rush Rhees and Hans-Georg Gadamer; and to relate the results of their work to Richard Rorty's more recent, and perhaps more well-known, ongoing attempts to re-conceive the business of philosophy as a matter of contributing to the conversation of mankind.
About the speaker
Stephen Mulhall is a Fellow of New College in the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Oxford. A leading contemporary philosopher, he is highly respected for his work on Wittgenstein and other post-Kantian philosophers such as Kierkegaard, Heidegger and Nietzsche. He is also deeply interested in Ethics and the Philosophy of religion. His many publications include Liberals and Communitarians Inheritance and Originality: Wittgenstein, Heidegger and Kierkegaard and most recently On Film.