Humanities Center Director: Thomas Wilson

David Rosenthal

Professor of Philosophy, Professor of Linguistics, and Coordinator of Interdisciplinary Concentration in Cognitive Science, Graduate Center, City University of New York

Translation, Theory, and Understanding

Monday, October 17, 2011 • 4:10pm • Taylor Science Center G027

We take mutual understanding in conversation so much for granted that we seldom reflect on what such understanding consists in and what it requires.  Without a solid theoretical grasp of how understanding operates, we are often at a loss when misunderstanding occurs, either in everyday life or in relatively abstruse contexts.  To understand one another, we need not only to translate others’ words into our own; we must also construe full sentences as well as the inferential patterns those sentences sometimes occur in.  These three processes of translation are, moreover, to some extent independent and can even conflict; so mutual understanding requires that they be balanced.  The lecture will explore these topics, both in general and in connection with an especially striking application that has to do with truth and reference.

David Rosenthal is Professor of Philosophy at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and Coordinator of the Graduate Center’s Interdisciplinary Concentration in Cognitive Science.  He holds a secondary appointment in the Graduate Center’s Program in Linguistics.  His scholarly work is primarily in philosophy of mind, though he also works in philosophy of language. He has published extensively on consciousness, the qualitative character of perception, and the intentionality of thought and speech. He is known for the widely discussed higher-order-thought theory of consciousness and for his quality-space theory of mental qualities, and is currently at work on a book about the function of consciousness.  He is past president of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness, and has been Visiting Professor, Nihon University (Tokyo), McDonnell Visiting Lecturer and McDonnell-Pew Visiting Fellow, University of Oxford, Visiting Fellow, Hanse Wissenschaftskolleg (Bremen), and Resident Fellow, Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF), University of Bielefeld.

Sponsored by the Dean of Faculty, the Yordán Lecture Fund, and the Philosophy Department