Invitation to Classical Chinese and Philosophical Linguistics Workshop with Professor Christoph Harbsmeier


You are cordially invited to the Classical Chinese and Philosophical Linguistics Workshop with Professor Christoph Harbsmeier organized by Associate Professor Loy Hui-Chieh on 12th and 13th February 2018 at the Wan Boo Sow Research Centre for Chinese Culture, NUS FASS AS8-05-49.

There will be four sessions in the workshop:

Session 1: Guo Xiang on the Philosophy of Zhuangzi (Day 1, 10am to 12pm)

Session 2: Self-Construal in Traditional China: A Comparative Perspective (Day 1, 2pm to 4pm)

Session 3: Anaphora and Coreference in Classical Chinese (Day 2, 10am to 12pm)

Session 4: Are Some Languages Better than Others? (Day 2, 2pm to 4pm)

As lunch and refreshments will be provided, please RSVP by 5 February 2018 at

About the speaker: Christoph Harbsmeier is Professor Emeritus at the University of Oslo. He also holds honorary professorships at Peking University, Fudan University (Shanghai), Wuhan University, Zhejiang University, Shanghai Normal University, and East China Normal University. His main work is in the history of science (logic), conceptual history, historical linguistics, and modern Chinese Cartoons.

Sponsored by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore, and co-sponsored by the Division of Humanities, Yale-NUS College. Special thanks to the Wan Boo Sow Research Centre for Chinese Culture for granting the use of their facilities.

Some photos of the event below:




“Holism in Action” by Robert Myers and “Davidson’s Treatment of Wittgenstein’s Rule-Following Paradox” by Claudine Verheggen


Date: 16 November 2017
Time: 2pm to 5pm
Venue: Philosophy Meeting Room (AS3-05-23)

2pm to 3.30pm
“Holism in Action” by Robert Myers

Although Davidson always acknowledged that his causal theory of action faces a number of serious difficulties, he maintained throughout his career that they should be regarded as problems of detail, not as problems calling into question his basic idea that reasons for actions are causes of actions and that rationalizing explanations are causal explanations. I argue, first, that these difficulties are actually fatal to Davidson’s view as it is often interpreted and as he himself often presented it in his classic papers on philosophy of action, but, second, that, on a different interpretation, Davidson’s view fares better, and that this different interpretation is closer to his real meaning.

About the speaker:
Robert Myers is Professor of Philosophy at York University, Toronto. He received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and taught for twelve years at Barnard College in New York City before joining the department of philosophy at York University in 2001. His research interests are in theoretical ethics, related issues in philosophy of action and epistemology, and political philosophy. He is the author of Self-Governance and Cooperation (Oxford 1999) and the co-author (with Claudine Verheggen) of Donald Davidson’s Triangulation Argument: A Philosophical Inquiry (Routledge 2016).

3.30pm to 5pm
“Davidson’s Treatment of Wittgenstein’s Rule-Following Paradox” by Claudine Verheggen

The aim of this paper is first to show that Wittgenstein and Davidson argue for semantic non-reductionism, the rejection of any account of meaning that does not invoke semantic notions, in similar ways, and that consequently they conceive of the use they both take to be essential to meaning in a similar way. Both think that a full account of meaning requires us to consider this use within a semantic context, so that we cannot say what speakers mean by their words, and what words mean, without saying what speakers use their words to mean, and we cannot answer the question what makes it possible for someone to have a language without thinking of her as already having one. However, whereas Wittgenstein makes only very general remarks about the kind of use that is essential to meaning, Davidson has much more to say about the topic and, as a result, provides a significantly richer and more constructive way to address the paradox about meaning and rule-following developed by Wittgenstein.

About the speaker:
Claudine Verheggen is Professor of Philosophy at York University, Toronto. She received a diploma in cinema from the Institut National Supérieur des Arts du Spectacle, Brussels, an MA in philosophy from the University of Chicago and a PhD in philosophy from the University of California, Berkeley. She taught for ten years at the City University of New York before joining the department of philosophy at York University in 2006.

Verheggen’s research interests are in the philosophy of language and related issues in philosophy of mind, metaphysics and epistemology (including normativity, objectivity, truth, and philosophical skepticism). She is the co-author (with Robert Myers) of Donald Davidson’s Triangulation Argument: A Philosophical Inquiry (Routledge 2016), and the editor of Wittgenstein and Davidson on Language, Thought, and Action (Cambridge 2017). Her current research includes a book project, entitled Minding the World, in which she addresses critiques of what she takes to be Wittgenstein and Davidson’s conception of the relation between thought and reality, and develops and defends the conception of objectivity that can be based upon it.

All are welcome

FASS Forward to the Exams


(A message from the FASS Dean’s Office Student Life team.)

Dear FASS Freshmen,

As we approach the end of the semester, the Dean’s Office is organising a 2-hour session next week to help you prepare for your first exams at FASS. Specially designed for students in their first year, FASS Forward to the Exams features 4 lecturers and 4 senior-year students across different disciplines, who will share their insight on how to deal with your exams in an interactive seminar setting.

If you would like to obtain first-hand study tips and advice from lecturers on how to cope with exams, this session is just for you! Together with senior students from Sociology, Psychology, History and Geography, our very own FASS lecturers from Philosophy, Economics, English Language & Literature and Southeast Asian Studies will be there to share their personal experiences, study tips and exam strategies!

  • Date: Wednesday, 1 November 2017
  • Time: 4-6pm
  • Venue: FASS Seminar Room B (AS7 Level 1)
  • Format: 40-minute Panel session and Small-Group Q&A

Click HERE to register! Limited spaces available! For enquiries and more information, please contact Lynn ( or 66013496).

NUS Philosophy Department at the Future of Manufacturing Summit 2017


The NUS Philosophy Department was represented at the inaugural Future of Manufacturing Summit 2017, organized by A*STAR, with support from the Economic Development Board (EDB), and held last month at Sentosa Resorts World Convention Centre. A/P Axel Gelfert (NUS Philosophy) gave the closing lecture, titled ‘Four Industrial Revolutions and Counting: Beyond the Rhetoric of Innovation’, to an audience of 200 managers, entrepreneurs, and policymakers. The goal of the summit – which also featured Mr. S. Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry), as Guest of Honour – was to bring together global thought-leaders to discuss key topics related to technology trends and industry shifts that are shaping the future of manufacturing from a range of economic, societal and technological perspectives. A/P Gelfert’s lecture was followed by a roundtable that discussed enabling factors and societal implications of the future of manufacturing. Other speakers and panelists included Mr. Tan Choon Shian (Chief Executive of Workforce Singapore), Professor Siegfried Russwurm (former Chief Technology Officer of Siemens corporation), Mr. Low Ka Hoe (Chief Strategy Officer, ST Engineering), and Dr. Yves Rossier (Head of Digital Transformation, Nestlé corporation).

Photos (with permission from A*STAR, for use on NUS website/newsletter)

Book Launch for Forbidden Hill (Singapore Saga, Vol. 1) by John D Greenwood

Wednesday, January 17 at 6.00pm in Faculty Lounge @ L2 of the Deck

John D Greenwood (City University of New York Graduate Center) will present a short talk and readings from his newly published historical novel about the founding and early development of Singapore, published by Monsoon Books.

All are welcome. Light refreshments will be served.

Copies will be available for purchase and signing. Also available from Kinokuniya, Amazon and selected bookstores.

John D Greenwood was a faculty member in the Department of Philosophy at NUS from 1983-1986 (Lecturer), 1999-2000 (Senior Visiting Fellow) and 2008-2009 (Visiting Professor).

Forbidden Hill (Singapore Saga, Vol. 1) is a meticulously researched and vividly imagined historical narrative that brings to life the stories of the early European, Malay, Chinese and Indian pioneers––the administrators, merchants, policemen, boatmen, coolies, concubines, slaves and secret society soldiers––whose vision and intrigues drove the rapid expansion of the port city in the early decades of the nineteenth century.

‘Brimming with memorable characters, this colourful reimagining of the early history of Singapore restores William Farquhar – long eclipsed by Raffles – to his rightful position at the forefront of the founding of the colonial settlement, and brings the intrigues, personality clashes and violence of the era vividly to life.’

Tim Hannigan, author of Raffles and the British Invasion of Java

“Understanding the phenomenology of perceptual experience” by Frank Jackson

Understanding the phenomenology of perceptual experience by Frank Jackson

Seeing something as green is different from seeing something as red. Seeing something as round is different from seeing something as square. These commonplaces remind us (not that we need reminding) that perceptual experiences have a phenomenology. What’s the best way to account for this?

Date: 11 December 2017, Monday
Time: 6pm – 7.30pm
Venue: AS7 Seminar Room B

About the Speaker:
Frank Jackson is Lim Chong Yah visiting professor at The National University of Singapore, and an Emeritus Professor at The Australian National University. His books include From Metaphysics to Ethics, and Language, Names, and Information.


“The Verisimilitude Framework for Inductive Inference” by Olav Vassend

“The Verisimilitude Framework for Inductive Inference” by Olav Vassend

The “likelihood” of a hypothesis given a piece of evidence is the probability that the hypothesis assigns to the evidence. Both Bayesians and likelihoodists use likelihoods to quantify evidential impact, and likelihoods play an important role in frequentist inference as well. However, I show that the likelihood is not always an appropriate way of measuring evidential impact. I then argue in favor of a “verisimilitude framework” for inductive inference, and I give several examples of verisimilitude-based inference procedures that make use of evidential measures other than the likelihood, including inference procedures appropriate for parsimony evaluations of scientific theories and for phylogenetic inference. Finally, I contrast my proposal with a similar recent proposal grounded in decision theory.

Date: 9 November 2017
Time: 3pm to 5pm
Venue: Philosophy Meeting Room (AS3-05-23)

About the Speaker:
Olav Vassend is an assistant professor of philosophy at Nanyang Technological University. He received his PhD in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin—Madison in the spring of 2017. Most of his work is in philosophy of science and formal epistemology, and he is particularly interested in the foundations of statistical inference and inductive inference more generally.

All are welcome

The Mysticism of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus and “the Meaning of Life” by Richard McDonough (2 Nov 2017)

The Mysticism of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus and “the Meaning of Life” by Richard McDonough

Wittgenstein’s Tractatus defines the “mystical” as that which can be “shown” but cannot be “said.” It is argued that there are two distinct notions of “showing” in the Tractatus, that which is “shown [zeigt]” by propositional symbols, and that which “shows itself [zeigt sich]”. This distinction is essential to understanding the mysticism of the Tractatus. Although the former notion has received the most attention, it is argued that the latter is more fundamental. The paper argues that the various species of the mystical in the Tractatus can, in a sense, be “said” after all. A sketch of the sense in which one can say “mystical” things is provided and distinguished from the sense in which one can “say” “genuine” (factual) propositions. The former resembles a “warranted assertibility” theory of meaning while the latter resembles a more traditional “truth conditions” theory of meaning. It is argued that the neglected Tractatus’ view that life and the world are one [sind Eins]” anticipates Husserl’s notion of the “life-world” some 16 years before Husserl announced that notion. The Tractatus life-world is my life-world (for any me). It is argued that the “mystical” in the Tractatus refers primarily to those aspects of the life-world that cannot be expressed in genuine propositions. Thus, although the Tractatus is best known for defending a seminal version of “logical atomism,” it actually holds that the organic unity of the life-world is lost in the process of analysis. It is shown how the present interpretation differs both from the “traditional” and the “resolute” interpretations of the Tractatus. Finally, the paper provides a taxonomy of the various species of Tractatus mysticism that illustrates these points.

Date: 2 November 2017
Time: 2pm to 4pm
Venue: Philosophy Meeting Room (AS3-05-23)

About the Speaker:

Richard McDonough received his BA in philosophy, with minors in mathematics and chemistry, summa cum laude, from the University of Pittsburgh in 1971, his MA in philosophy from Cornell University in 1974, and his Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1975. He was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow 1971-71 and a National Science Foundation Fellow 1971-74. He is the author of two books, over 80 articles in internationally referred journals, 5 encyclopedia and dictionary entries, and 11 book reviews. He has acted as a guest editor of an issue of Idealistic Studies titled Wittgenstein and Cognitive Science. He has taught at Bates College, the National University of Singapore, the University of Tulsa, the University Putra Malaysia, the Overseas Family College, the PSB Academy, the University of Maryland, the Arium Academy, and James Cook University. In addition to philosophy, he has taught psychology, physics, general humanities and writing courses. He is currently working on a book on Plato and a book on the development of Wittgenstein’s philosophy from the early Tractatus to his “later philosophy”

All are welcome

Beginning ancient Greek and Latin courses offered at Yale-NUS next semester

Yale-NUS will be offering beginning ancient Greek and beginning Latin next semester. Their Global Antiquity independent minor website has more information about other Yale-NUS courses being offered in antiquity next semester; please visit the link.

Please contact Mira Seo (, Green Steven James ( or Eleftheria Lasthiotaki ( for more information.