Thursday, 10 May 2018

Tullio Viola presents a working paper on 'Symbols and the Dynamics of Culture'

The paper presents the main lines of research I will be carrying on at the Max-Weber-Kolleg during the next two years. In particular, it describes the central argument of a book I intend to write, entitled "Pragmatist Theories of the Symbol". The book centres on a reconstruction of the concept of "symbol" in the four classical figures of North-American pragmatism (Charles S. Peirce, William James, George H. Mead, John Dewey). Its main aim is to show that the pragmatists had a coherent and theoretically robust understanding of this concept and of the dynamics underpinning it. Focussing on this somewhat undertheorized aspect of the pragmatist tradition may help us expand the purview of contemporary linguistic philosophy by re-orienting the debate toward a more encompassing reflection on culture. Moreover, it can provide us with new tools for understanding some of the classical philosophical problems involved in the study of cultural phenomena, such as the problem of the tension between universalism and particularism.

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