Taylor, Charles (1931–)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DD089-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved October 27, 2021, from

3. Language

Dualist epistemology is predicated on a rigid separation of subject and object that makes us unable to grasp distinctive features of human life and activity as distinct from the behaviour of physical objects and natural systems. Taylor moves beyond this by developing ‘expressivist’ or ‘constitutive’ theories of language, inaugurated by Herder and important to the Romantic tradition, but often left inadequately grounded in an appeal to immediate self-knowledge. These theories help Taylor to show the human agent to be understandable only as a participant in a linguistic community. Correspondingly, language itself cannot be understood entirely as a matter of reference and predication; instead, Taylor suggests that linguistic activity also involves constructing objects by making identifications of significance that cannot adequately be rendered in truth-conditional form, and that agents are never in a purely external relationship to language, nor indeed to the rest of their worlds in so far as these are constituted through language.

Citing this article:
Calhoun, Craig. Language. Taylor, Charles (1931–), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DD089-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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