Self, Knowledge, Expression

November 2, 2012
Department of Philosophy, Harvard University

Plimpton Seminar Room, Barker Center 133
12 Quincy St
United States

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The notion of ‘expression’ plays a distinctive role, or a number of distinctive roles, in a tradition of thought associated with Wittgenstein, Elizabeth Anscombe, Stanley Cavell, and others. Wittgenstein accords a crucial role to the expression of sensations in establishing the meaning of sensation terms, and he appeals to the notion of expression to defuse difficulties about how we know our own minds. Anscombe gives a special importance to the expression of intention in understanding the unity of the concept of intention. And in his discussion of knowledge of other minds, Cavell connects the possession of knowledge of the other to its expressibility in acknowledgment. The notion also figures suggestively in the work of a variety of philosophers not grounded in this Wittgensteinian tradition, notably Herder, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and Sartre.

The purpose of the present workshop is to consider the importance of the notion of expression and related notions (transparency, making manifest, telling, etc.) for a variety of areas of philosophical inquiry and dispute. Our aim will be to reflect on questions such as the following: What is the notion of expression, and what, if anything, is its significance for the philosophy of mind, and for epistemology?  In what way might it be relevant to the understanding of human communication, and more generally, to our knowledge of the thoughts and feelings of other persons?  What light can it shed on our capacity to know our own minds?  What is its bearing on the understanding of human action?


David Finkelstein, University of Chicago
“Consciousness Extended Backwards”
(10-11:10 AM)

Valérie Aucouturier, Center Leo Apostel, Vrije Universiteit Brussels
“Practical Knowledge and the Expression of Intention”
(11:20 AM-12:30 PM)

Matthew Boyle, Harvard University
“The Need for Expression”
(2-3:10 PM)

Sophie Djigo, Lycée Alexandre Ribot
“The Discrete Self and Discretionary Authority”
(3:10-4:20 PM)

Berislav Marušić, Brandeis University
“Against the Evidence”
(4:30-5:40 PM)

Closing discussion chaired by:
Richard Moran, Harvard University
(5:40-6:30 PM)

For more information, please contact: Richard Moran ([email protected]) or Byron Davies
([email protected]).

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