Center for Language Acquisition at the Pennsylvania State University

Invited Lecture: Bakhurst

David Bakhurst, Charlton Professor of Philosophy at Queen's University, presented an invited lecture:


"Learning from Others"


Date and Time:  Monday, October 22, 2012 at 4 p.m.

                           (Reception to follow in IST Building Café)


Location:  358 Willard Building


John McDowell begins his essay ‘Knowledge by Hearsay’ (1993) by describing two ways language matters to epistemology.  The first is that, by understanding and accepting someone else’s utterance, a person can acquire knowledge.  This is what philosophers call ‘knowledge by testimony’.  The second is that children acquire knowledge in the course of learning their first language—in acquiring language, a child inherits a conception of the world.  In The Formation of Reason (2011), and my writings on Russian socio-historical philosophy and psychology, I address issues bearing on the second of these topics, questions about the child’s development through initiation into language and other forms of social being.  In this paper, I focus on the first: the epistemology of testimony.  After expounding a view of testimony inspired by McDowell, and supplemented by ideas from Sebastian Rödl, I consider how such an account illuminates two issues in philosophy of education: the extent of an individual’s epistemic dependence upon others and the nature of teaching.  


David Bakhurst is Charlton Professor of Philosophy at Queen's University in Canada.  His research focuses on  Russian philosophy, philosophical psychology, and moral philosophy.  He has written extensively on the work of Soviet philosopher Evald Ilyenkov, psychologist Lev Vygotsky, language philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, and educational psychologist Jerome Bruner.

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