Degree course: 
Corso di First cycle degree in History and Stories of the Contemporary World
Academic year when starting the degree: 
Academic year in which the course will be held: 
Course type: 
Compulsory subjects, characteristic of the class
First Semester
Standard lectures hours: 
Detail of lecture’s hours: 
Lesson (64 hours)

Attendancy of the "Precorso di Filosofia", to be held between September 14 and September 25, 2020, is recommended. The timetable of the course will be visible on the "Storia e storie del mondo contemporaneo" official website.

Final Examination: 

ORAL EXAM (compulsory): it will be held at the end of the course and on specially set dates – to be announced in due course. It will focus on ascertaining the acquisition, and correct understanding, of the texts listed in the “Course readings” section.
For students who attend the course, assessment may also be carried out as follows:
Mid-term exam (optional): at the end of the first part of the course, a mid-term written test may be held which will focus on the authors, works and themes addressed in the course’s first part. Students who pass the mid-term test (with a minimum grade of 18/30) will not be further tested about the authors and topics of the first part. However, they will still have to read 2 books of their choice among those indicated in the “Optional readings” section.
PRESENTATION (optional): in the last part of the course, it will be possible to hold a presentation about a reading of one’s choice from the “Optional readings” section. Those who choose the presentation will not be further tested on that reading during the oral examination, and will be able to customize their optional readings.

Students who did not attend the course, or who did not take the mid-term exam, or who did not hold the presentation, will have to study all the compulsory readings, plus 2 books of their choice from those indicated in the “Optional Readings” section.
Students who have taken only the mid-term test, or have only held a presentation, will compensate for the missed examinations in the oral exam.

All tests will be aimed at ascertaining the correct understanding of texts, the ability to clearly and orderly present the authors’ theses and arguments, and the autonomy of judgment of the student. The score of each test will take into account the accuracy and quality of the answers (70%), the demonstrated communicative ability (20%) and the ability to adequately motivate statements, analyses and judgments (10%). The final mark will consist of the average of the marks of all the tests passed by the student.

Voto Finale

The general objective of this course is to stimulate philosophical reflection on the relationship between language and thought – an issue that has occupied philosophers from classical antiquity (from the pre-Socratics to Plato and Aristotle) up to the twentieth-century (Frege, Husserl and Wittgenstein). This objective will be pursued through the exploration of the following questions: is thought timeless and independent of language, or is it shaped by natural languages? Is it possible to reform language in order to bring clarity to our thinking, thus solving long-standing philosophical puzzles? Does language have a purely descriptive function of the world, or does it also serve to express inner states, or perform actions? What is the difference between expressing one’s thoughts literally and communicating them indirectly?
While reading, commenting and comparing the texts presented in the course will not probably exhaust the full range of issues surrounding the language-thought relationship, it will allow to start a reflection that can be autonomously continued through the formation of an individual, critical attitude.
The expected learning outcomes are:
- knowledge and understanding of the issues presented
- acquisition of philosophical skills, including specific language skills
- ability to interpret problems and produce arguments through text commentary
- development of an individual critical habitus.

The first part of the course (32 hours) will present the topic “Languages of thought” with particular reference to the relationship between reasoning and language. This theme has its first development during Greek antiquity, with the notion of λόγος, or logos (found in the pre-Socratics and in Plato, subsequently formalized by Aristotle), and is further developed with the introduction of great innovations during the twentieth century, by authors such as Bolzano, Frege, Husserl and Wittgenstein. The second part of the course (32 hours) will explore the relationship between thought, language and action. With the late work of Ludwig Wittgenstein, new ideas start to receive attention. For example, that the meaning of a term derives from its use, that the dimension of the mental is in itself inaccessible, and that linguistic uses are the only observable correlate of thought. These ideas encourage several other philosophers (for instance, Ryle, Austin, Strawson and Grice) to study the expressive and performative aspects of language.


- Diego Marconi: Filosofia del linguaggio: da Frege ai nostri giorni, Torino, UTET, 1999.
- Elisa Paganini e Andrea Iacona (Eds.): Filosofia del Linguaggio. Milano, Cortina Editore, 2003. (selected chapters)
Two books of one’s choice from the following list:
- Gottlob Frege, Senso, funzione e concetto: scritti filosofici (1891-1897); a cura di Carlo Penco ed Eva Picardi. Roma, Laterza, 2001.
- Bertrand Russell, I problemi della filosofia, Milano, Feltrinelli, 2013.
- Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus logico-philosophicus e Quaderni 1914-1916. Trad, it. Amedeo G. Conte, Collana Biblioteca, Torino, Einaudi, 1997.
- Ludwig Wittgenstein, Ricerche filosofiche, tr. it. di Renzo Piovesan e Mario Trinchero, a cura di Mario Trinchero, Torino, Einaudi, 2009.
- Gilbert Ryle, Il concetto di mente, pref. di D.C. Dennett, trad. di G. Pellegrino, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2007.
- Paul Grice, Logica e conversazione. Saggi su intenzione, significato e comunicazione. Tr. it. G. Moro, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1993.
- John L. Austin, Come fare cose con le parole, a cura di M. Sbisà e C. Penco, tr. it. C. Villata, Bologna, Marietti, 2000.


The training objectives of the course will be pursued through lectures, which will include the reading, interpretation, and collaborative commentary of the assigned texts.

Office hour is by appointment. Students can schedule a meeting by sending an email to the lecturer.