11 Nov 2006 - 12 Nov 2006 All day CRASSH


Words, thoughts and things: exploring the links in the Christian and Islamic traditions






11 – 12 November 2006
CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge

In this conference, our aim is to bring together scholars of medieval Christian and Islamic thought in order to explore the ways in which each tradition developed its understanding of the nature of language. Three broad topics form the principal nodes around which our interest will be organised: the relation between thought and language; the origin of language; and the role of intention in linguistic knowledge and communication. These nodes provide a set of bases for us to touch in engaging with the similarities that unite, and the differences that divide, the perspectives on language taken across the two traditions. Both traditions were united in being scriptural cultures in which questions about language and the foundations of communication possessed a naturally strategic position, as a complement of the interpretive tasks which formed their central preoccupation. Dividing them were differences in the intellectual stock with which discourses on language were leavened – such as the scriptural resources utilised or the degree of interaction with the Greek philosophical tradition – which were in turn related to differences in the disciplines in which these questions were pursued – disciplines as diverse (though fundamentally interdependent) as linguistics or legal theory, theology or philosophy. Questions about the relation between mind, language and the world have been equally prominent in contemporary philosophy, where they have held the field for the better part of its recent history. This history provides a larger frame of reference shadowing this project, in which those approaching medieval texts with a more self-consciously philosophical preoccupation may situate medieval concerns.


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk