In the philosopher's mother tongue

22 September 2009

Although this website is dedicated to philosophers all around the world whose professional language is English, a number of pages have been composed in French, and these pages will not be translated. It is assumed that visitors are prepared to read and decipher “all the languages that they have not been knowing” (a humorous definition of polyglottism by George Sand), since they share with us the presupposition according to which thought — including rational thought — is context-dependent. One work in progress on this website is to explore and pursue in all its consequences a working hypothesis which anthropologists and linguists have labeled the Sapir-Whorf, or linguistic relativity, hypothesis.

This website's language policy is based on two principles:

  • This website does not convey [referential] information but [indexical] knowledge;
  • Philosophical knowledge gives primacy to [indexical] meaning over [context-free] reference.

These are presuppositions, which nobody is forced to accept, but this website — a personal endeavor — is not a compilation of factual information, nor is it a blog meant to be packed with dates, names and references. I am pursuing arguments and addressing issues which might not be accurately presented if they were not ethnographically situated and phrased in their own specific language.

In our practice of philosophical writing, we privilege our mother tongue and the classical rhetoric of our mother tongue. In our practice of philosophical readings, we extend the scope of the Principle of Charity to include the diversity of tongues and styles. We feel obliged to maximize the rationality and meaningfulness of all the most indexical intricacies of synonymity or voice pitches in French or Sanskrit, or in any other philosophical text that we shall make a point to read in its original version.