Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Language and Science: the Possibility of Realism in Modern Philosophy

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
6.10.00  Humanities  Philosophy   

Code Science Field
H001  Humanities  Philosophy 

Code Science Field
6.03  Humanities  Philosophy, Ethics and Religion 
Realism, linguistic turn, philosophy of language, science, contemporary philosophy, philosophy of the Enlightenment, German Idealism
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (7)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  02650  PhD Miran Božovič  Humanities  Researcher  2016 - 2018  283 
2.  11798  PhD Zdravko Kobe  Humanities  Researcher  2016 - 2018  214 
3.  09979  PhD Slavoj Krečič Žižek  Philosophy  Head  2016 - 2018  2,022 
4.  30660  PhD Gregor Kroupa  Philosophy  Researcher  2016 - 2018  54 
5.  02155  PhD Radivoj Riha  Philosophy  Researcher  2016 - 2018  321 
6.  25580  PhD Jurij Simoniti  Philosophy  Researcher  2016 - 2018  99 
7.  11158  PhD Alenka Zupančič Žerdin  Philosophy  Researcher  2016 - 2018  417 
Organisations (2)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0581  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts  Ljubljana  1627058  95,857 
2.  0618  Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts  Ljubljana  5105498000  62,024 
Realism is perhaps the most exposed catchword of the 21st century philosophy and was brought to public awareness by a heterogeneous movement with a common name “speculative realism”. After the century of the linguistic turn, this new line of thought strives to elude the grasp of postmodern language games and endless deferrals of meaning in the net of differences between signs and recognizes Kant’s transcendentalism as the first impulse of this long-standing process, which enclosed reality within the horizon of human consciousness, its language and social forms. The project will attempt to provide a consistent criticism and foremost a completion of these, in our opinion, inaccurate interpretations of the history of philosophy, endorsed by the new realism, as well as to offer an alternative approach, which will establish a possibility of some other realism, thus paving the way to the scientific conceptualization of reality in a more adequate manner.   In the first section the project will offer a re-interpretation of the relation between the Kantian transcendental gesture and the turn toward language, which led to the philosophies of the 20th century. We wish to point out that the origins of this linguistic turn must be searched for already in the pre-Kantian philosophy, which is all the more important, since in the period between Locke and Humboldt the philosophy of language developed side by side with epistemology and philosophy of mind, both being the home ground of Kantian transcendentalism. Thus, a re-reading of the Enlightenment philosophy of language is called for, in which a slow shift from systematic theories of linguistic sign and meaning to the historical perspective on the question of the origin of languages is carried out. Precisely in the 17th and 18th century, when realist metaphysics peaks, a parallel process is taking place, which ascribes to linguistic structures an increasingly important constructive role in the cognition of reality. Here, the connection between knowledge and language is loosened for the first time, yet not by a simple separation, but rather within a broader perspective, which, in the light of anthropological, climatological and other hypotheses, enables the emergence of Humboldt’s linguistic and, as a consequence, cultural relativism.   In the second section, the research will point out a certain, thus far neglected, tendency in the relation of philosophy and science and provide a new reading of the history of philosophy, in order to revise the usual understanding of Kantian and post-Kantian philosophy as a final parting of philosophy and realism and an absolute scission between philosophy and science. The project’s hypothesis claims that, on the epistemological level, Kant’s division of empirical and transcendental laid the ground for a realism, which, as opposed to the rationalist and empiricist stance, secures the existence of reality, which is no longer and object of doubt and exists behind our backs. On the level of the relation of philosophy to science, however, the research will indicate and elaborate a surprisingly overlooked fact: While pre-Kantian philosophers competed directly with natural science, entered in controversies and offered their own rival “positive ontologies of the immediacy”, Kant’s philosophy offered only the philosophical conditions of a physical, Newtonian depiction of reality. The research of the second section will thus pursue the unnoticed and forgotten realist impulses of the Kantian and post-Kantian philosophy, reaching until today and reflected in the relation of indifference of philosophy and science. In contrast to two common stances, the first elevating philosophy high above science (Heidegger), the second debasing it to a mere propedeutics of science (early Wittgenstein), this project will elaborate a more complex matrix, according to which philosophy recognizes the scientific realism only inasmuch as it can become indifferent to it.
Significance for science
One of the most inciting, perhaps even the most provoking subject of the philosophy of the new millennium is realism in any of its many forms. The international reputation of the project leader and the members of the project group ensure the highest and broadest scientific and public influence and propulsivity of the research. Despite the somewhat unfortunate near-notoriousness of the chosen subject, the project, insofar as it is a small basic research project, sets itself a task of strict scientific research under the highest theoretical standards, in order to organize a certain problem field, currently fraught with symptoms of fashionable arbitrariness, as an area of scientific stringency.   Specifically, the significance for the development of science can be summarized in four points: 1. The most important part of the research work will be original investigations on a world-class level, enabling a dialogue with the greatest achievements of recent philosophy. Against the speculative realism and all others new realisms, the research will strive to elaborate its own concept of realism. New findings are expected pre-eminently in three areas: a) invention of the constitutive power of language in the pre-Kantian, Enlightenment philosophy; b) a reinterpretation of the history of philosophy from the perspective of realism; c) establishing a new relationship between philosophy and science, structured through operations of recognition and absorption as well as discharge and indifference. 2. Although the project will perform mostly basic and fundamental research, a characteristic advantage of the Ljubljana Lacanian School, the theoretical background of this project, is exactly its ability of interdisciplinary cooperation, including all sciences, but mostly psychoanalysis, economy, and recently also physics and biology. 3. The ultimate goal of the research work is taking part in international currents and streams of contemporary philosophy and global proliferation of a certain line of thought. Thus, the project will continue the process of establishing a Slovene line of theory, Ljubljana Lacanian School, as a world-renowned scientific achievement. 4. An important part of the research is an improvement of the scientific terminology, applicable to other, not only scientific, but wider areas of knowledge society. The researchers will perform unification and classification of scientific terminology in all fields of philosophical investigations.
Significance for the country
Since the proposed project is a basic research project, its direct influence on economy is highly limited, and yet, the results of the research work will not remain without impact on society in all its aspects, including the economical. The central topic of the research project is the relation of philosophy to science, and this conceptualization of science in connection with the realist stance touches upon every layer of social life. An analysis of scientific realism can be carried out from various viewpoints: political, economical, legal, educational, activist, from the viewpoint of media or civil rights etc. This research project intends to provide the theoretical basis for the wider understanding of science and its realism in society. The main topic of the research is a complex relation between scientific realism as an absolute horizon of every reality and concomitant indifference and autonomy of ideal, namely social, cultural, linguistic, entities from the scientifically revealed reality. In contrast to Nietzsche, who claimed that with increasing the knowledge of causality the level of moral consciousness in society decreases, this project will try to point out precisely opposite connections and dependencies between emergent institutional facts and reductive natural facts. The goal of the project is to elaborate a logical matrix, according to which the politically engaged philosophy and the anti-humanism of science do not exclude each other, but are rather strictly correlative. This has always been the stance of the project leader as well as that of Ljubljana Lacanian School in general. In the past, science deprived the human being of his central position in the universe, it placed the man into a genealogy of other living beings, etc., however, the most disconcerting scientific fact of the present day is perhaps the ecological catastrophe and, with it, the increased probability of the near extinction of the human race. It is the task of philosophy to establish and determine the frame of thought and action in confronting the brute scientific facts, which incessantly de-stabilize human identity and cultural values. Its task is thus to elaborate a system of compensation of the fundamental anti-humanism of science. The proposed project will provide at least some approaches, as to how society could absorb the results of scientific research in the future.
Most important scientific results Interim report, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Interim report, final report
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