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"Saying Doesn't Make It So... Or Does It?'" with UChicago's Stephen Walker

  • Kibbitznest 2212 North Clybourn Avenue Chicago, IL, 60614 United States (map)
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Kibbitznest Liberal Arts Discussions are a collaboration with The University of Chicago Graham School to host presentations and discussions of original research.


At first blush, it sounds ridiculous to claim that whatever anybody says is true. How are we supposed to make sense of communication at all, or even basic engagement with reality, if things are always as they’re said to be? Tonight we’ll explore the possibility that this understandable response has it exactly backwards: that it’s easier, not harder, to explain communication and engagement if things are always as they’re said to be.

The reason for this counterintuitive conclusion is that it’s impossible to make sense of reality except under someone’s description or other. As different descriptions pile up, we can compare them with each other, but not with some description-free reality that they’re all supposedly representing. An important implication of this view is that we don’t actually use the truth or falsity of a statement to decide whether to accept or reject it,
and always turn out to be using other criteria instead.

Sponsor: Kibbitznest Books, Brews & Blarney


STEPHEN WALKER is a PhD candidate at University of Chicago Divinity School studying philosophy and the history of philosophy across multiple traditions. His main research focuses on classical Chinese thought; his dissertation, Boundless Ways: Navigating Norms in the Zhuangzi, examines that text's pragmatic and pluralistic critique of value.

FREE & OPEN to the public

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