Human Rights in China-Linguistics & Philosophy

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the most translated document in the world. It requires a gargantuan leap of faith, and a good dose of ingenuity, to assume that all those translations say precisely the same thing.”
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“The linguistic, ultimately conceptual, asymmetry between English and Chinese regarding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights urges us to be more cautious in dealing with universal values.”

 

“For just one example, a subtle difference between the official English and Chinese versions of the Universal Declaration reveals a much greater schism. The majority of the thirty articles in the English version of the Declaration refer to ‘everyone’ and ‘no one’, while the Chinese translation conveys all such expressions with the phrase ‘ren-ren’, ‘人人’ – literally, ‘man and man’. This linguistic nuance is significant, since it means that the two languages convey the meaning of ‘universality’ in metaphysically distinct ways.”

SOURCE: Bufacchi, Virrorio, and Vir Xiao Ouyang. “Hens, Ducks, & Human Rights in China.” Philosophy Now.

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Is the Many Worlds Hypothesis Just a Phantasy?

fullsizerender“The Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI) has a striking parallel in analytic philosophy that goes by the name of modal realism. Ever since Gottfried Leibniz argued that the problem of good and evil can be resolved by postulating that ours is the best of all possible worlds, the notion of ‘possible worlds’ has supplied philosophers with a scheme for debating the issue of the necessity or contingency of truths.”

SOURCE: Ball, Phillip. “Too Many Worlds.” Aeon.

Saving an Endangered Language

fullsizerender“The Tlingit people of the Pacific Northwest have a rich and complex culture, much of which has been preserved orally. Generations of oppression and marginalization have taken a heavy toll and the Tlingit language could have vanished completely.”

“Beginning in the 1980s, decades of work have gone into mapping the Tlingit language and preserving its vast oral literature, with $480,000 in grants from NEH. The program has achieved much: Tlingit is now incorporated into every level of education in Southeast Alaska, where Tlingit words and place names are now reentering the mainstream. In 2009, linguists completed a Tlingit dictionary, which is now available online. For Keri Eggleston, a linguist on the project, ‘it’s really inspiring to see kids introduce themselves in the language, and find meaning in life through studying the language.’”

SOURCE: “Saving an Endangered Language.” National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Rise and Fall and Rise of Logic

fullsizerender10“The history of logic also leads us to question the overly individualistic conception of knowledge and of our cognitive lives that we inherited from Descartes and others, and perhaps to move towards a greater appreciation for the essentially social nature of human cognition”

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“In the modern period, a number of philosophers came to see the nature of logic in terms of the faculties of mind. To be sure, this is again a theme present in medieval scholastic thought (in the work of the 14th-century author Pierre d’Ailly, for example), but in the early modern period it became the dominant view. This leads us back to Kant, for whom logic pertained above all to the structure of thought as such and the operations of the mind, such as in his interpretation of Aristotelian categories. For Kant, quintessential logical concepts such as drawing an inference from premises to conclusion are associated to internal operations of the mind rather than to moves in an argumentative situation.”

SOURCE: Dutilh Novaes, C. “The Rise and Fall and Rise of Logic.” Aeon.

Let’s Ditch the Dangerous Idea That Life Is a Story

fullsizerender8“But I do, like the American novelist John Updike and many others, ‘have the persistent sensation, in my life…, that I am just beginning’. The Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa’s ‘heteronym’ Alberto Caeiro (one of 75 alter egos under which he wrote) is a strange man, but he captures an experience common to many when he says that: ‘Each moment I feel as if I’ve just been born/Into an endlessly new world.’ Some will immediately understand this. Others will be puzzled, and perhaps skeptical.”

SOURCE: Strawson, Galen. “Let’s Ditch the Dangerous Idea That Life Is a Story.” Aeon.