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Open Access Philology’s Contingent Genealogies

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Starting from an analysis of “classical” philological (and philosophical) works, the author explains how philology can contribute to the perception of the contingency of human knowledge. The early modern discovery of linguistic contingency was inaugurated by Giambattista Vico, who argued that human knowledge cannot exist outside language, and that language itself is a form of knowledge. More than advancing the frontiers of knowledge, philology’s “intrinsic relativism” has the possibility to sensitize readers to the unknown. Its methods of inquiry involve genealogies, ethical adjudication that transpires contingently (rather than dogmatically), narration that transpires through ruptures (rather than continuities), and the revelation of the unknown (rather than the known) as a measure of our humanity.

Keywords: Hermeneutic; Human knowledge; Linguistic contingency; Philological relativism; Revelation of the unknown

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2015

More about this publication?
  • Philology is an international peer-reviewed journal devoted to the study of human traditions as they emerge from oral, written, carved, painted, digital, performed, ancient, contemporary texts. The journal aspires to challenge and reformulate the expression of philological studies in the present day. We propose that the contemporary world be understood in its multicultural complexity, and thus that philology be re-founded as a relevant social science. To this end, we encourage constant dialogue with the methodologies of other disciplines, including linguistics, cultural anthropology, archaeology, paleoethnology, genetics and cultural biology. Philology promotes all efforts to go beyond the traditional boundaries of our habitual fields of enquiry, with the purpose of accomplishing anti-dogmatic and unprejudiced tools for facing the challenges of contemporaneity. The journal is open to a wide variety of interdisciplinary approaches, from the study of linguistic evolution to literary interpretation, from textual criticism to the investigation of texts and ethnotexts, from etymological reconstructions to the cognitive analyses of archaeological facies. Philological problems exist in the grammar of signs inscribed on a prehistoric stone or a shamanic drum no less than they do in the transmission of a text from one old manuscript to another.
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