Josef Stern

josef stern

Josef Stern is an identical twin, teaches in Chicago and resides in Jerusalem, and works in two main areas: contemporary philosophy of language and medieval philosophy, especially Jewish and Arabic philosophy.  His interests in the philosophy of language focus on the theory of reference, the role of context in semantic interpretation, the distinction between literal and non-literal meaning, and between linguistic and non-linguistic modes of representation and communication.  He is also working on the history of  Quine's Indeterminacy Thesis and foundational issues in theoretical linguistics.  He has no interest in counterpart theory but he is deeply involved in Frege's identity puzzle.  In his second area, Stern is completing a number of projects that focus on epistemological and metaphysical issues  in the philosophy of the twelfth-century Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides and his relation both to the Arabic philosophical tradition and to later Jewish thinkers. In addition, he is interested in Hume's Dialogues concerning Natural Religion, the philosophy of art, skepticism, the history of philosophical interpretation of Scripture, and staying awake (most of the time).

CV (DOC)

Josef Stern's Recorded Lectures - Click here


Contact

office: Stuart Hall 214
office hours: on leave academic year 2014-2015
office phone: 773/702-8594
email: j06s@uchicago.edu

 

Recent News

Josef Stern at the Centers for Jewish Studies at Shandong and Nanjing Universities, Spring 2012 - Link

 

Books

  • The Matter and Form of Maimonides' Guide, Harvard University Press
  • Problems and Parables of Law: Maimonides and Nahmanides on Reasons for the Commandments - Link
  • Metaphor in Context (Link)
  • Adaptations and Innovations: Studies on the Interaction between  Jewish and Islamic Thought and Literature from the Early Middle Ages to the Late Twentieth Century, Dedicated to Professor Joel L. Kraemer - Link

Selected Publications

  • “The Maimonidean Parable, the Arabic Poetics, and the Garden of Eden,” Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Philosophy and Poetry XXXIII (2009): 209-247 (PDF)
  • “Metaphor and Minimalism,” Philosophical Studies (December 2009) (PDF)
  • The Knot That Never Was (PDF)
  • The Life and Death of a Metaphor, or the Metaphysics of Metaphor (PDF)
  • Meaning and Language (PDF)
  • Metaphor, Literal, Literalism (PDF)
  • Figurative Language (PDF)
  • Maimonides on Amalek, Self-Corrective Mechanisms, and the War against Idolatry
  • Metaphor without Mainsprings: A Rejoinder to Elign and Scheffler (PDF)
  • Maimonides' Epistemology (PDF)
  • Metaphor and Grammatical Deviance in Noûs, Vol. 17, No. 4 (Nov., 1983), pp. 577-599 (Link)
  • Metaphor as Demonstrative in The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 82, No. 12 (Dec., 1985), pp. 677-710 (Link)
  • Knowledge by Metaphor in in Figurative Language Ed. P. A. French, H. K. Wettstein (Link)
  • Nachmanides's Conception of Ta'amei Mitzvot and Its Maimonidean Background in Commandment and Community: New Essays in Jewish Legal and Political Philosophy by D.H. Frank (Link)

Please see my CV (DOC) for a complete list of publications.

Selected Reviews by Josef Stern

  • Reviewed Work(s): Philosophical Perspectives on Metaphor by Mark Johnson in The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 41, No. 2 (Winter, 1982), pp. 231-234 (Link)
  • Reviewed Work(s): Portraying Analogy by J. F. Ross in The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 84, No. 7 (Jul., 1987), pp. 392-397 (Link)
  • Reviewed Work(s): Unshadowed Thought: Representation in Thought and Language by Charles Travis in Mind, Vol. 112, No. 448 (Oct., 2003), pp. 805-812 (Link)

Selected Reviews of Josef Stern's Work

  • David Hills, Reviewed Work(s): Metaphor in Context by Josef Stern in The Philosophical Review, Vol. 111, No. 3 (Jul., 2002), pp. 473-478 (Link)
  • Elisabeth Camp, Reviewed Work(s): Metaphor in Context by Josef Stern in Noûs, Vol. 39, No. 4 (Dec., 2005), pp. 715-731 (Link)

Recent & Upcoming Courses

53300. Philosophy of Language Seminar: Quotations, Pictures, Words. (=LING 53300, DVPR 53302) This seminar will examine one of the primary devices by means of which we talk about language ad mental content. Topics will include the varieties of quotation: direct, indirect, mixed, pure, and non-literal (scare-quotes); various current theories of direct and indirect quotation; the relation between quotation and meaning; context-sensitivity and quotation; and the pictorial character of quotation. More generally, the seminar will investigate quotation as a phenomenon on the border between semantics and pragmatics and between linguistic and non-linguistic modes of representation. Readings will be drawn from authors such as Frege, Quine, Tarski, Davidson, Bennett, Cappelen and Lepore, H. Clark, Recanti, Garcia-Carpintero, Geurts, C. Potts, Kaplan, T. Parsons, Predelli, BUrge Peacocke, Brandom, Reimer, Richard, Saka, Sperber and Wilson, and Washington. (II) Winter 2014.

25110/35110.  Maimonides and Hume on Religion. (=JWSC 26100, RLST 25110, HIJD 35200)This course will study in alternation chapters from Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed and David Hume's Dialogues concerning Natural Religion, two major philosophical works whose literary forms are at least as important as their contents. Topics will include human knowledge of the existence and nature of God, anthropomorphism and idolatry, religious language, and the problem of evil. Time permitting, we shall also read other short works by these two authors on related themes. (B) Winter 2011 Syllabus; Autumn 2013

50110. Meaning. (=LING 50110, DVPR 50110). This seminar will be an intensive introduction for graduate students in Philosophy, Linguistics, and related disciplines to the truth-conditional analysis of linguistic meaning.  The course will not presume any prior familiarity with the subject matter but it will be geared toward the level of sophistication of graduate students and proceed at their pace.   Readings will include, among others, Frege, Carnap, Quine, Davidson, Chomsky, D. Lewis, Burge, Lepore and Ludwig, and Higginbotham.  Note: The first meeting of the seminar will be on Monday October 4 (Monday of the second week of the quarter) and the last meeting will be on Monday December 6 (Monday of the eleventh week). Autumn 2010 (II) Syllabus

23101/33101. Philosophy of Language - I Open to college and grad students. Prerequisites: May be taken in sequence or individually although the second quarter will presuppose familiarity with the material of the first. A two-quarter sequence that addresses the nature of human knowledge of natural language. Topics include classic and recent conceptions of meaning, the relation between truth and meaning, the development of formal semantics, the use of artificial languages to explain natural language, skepticism about meaning, translation and interpretation, linguistic normativity, the structure of current linguistic theory, implications for the theory of the mind, relations between contemporary syntax and semantics, and at least one case study in the syntax and semantics of natural language. Readings will include Frege, Tarski, Bloomfield, Harris, Carnap, Quine, Davidson, Chomsky, Higginbotham, Putnam, Evans, Burge, and others. Autumn 2003.

23102/33102. Philosophy of Language - II Open to college and grad students. Prerequisites: May be taken in sequence or individually although the second quarter will presuppose familiarity with the material of the first. A two-quarter sequence that addresses the nature of human knowledge of natural language. Topics include classic and recent conceptions of meaning, the relation between truth and meaning, the development of formal semantics, the use of artificial languages to explain natural language, skepticism about meaning, translation and interpretation, linguistic normativity, the structure of current linguistic theory, implications for the theory of the mind, relations between contemporary syntax and semantics, and at least one case study in the syntax and semantics of natural language. Readings will include Frege, Tarski, Bloomfield, Harris, Carnap, Quine, Davidson, Chomsky, Higginbotham, Putnam, Evans, Burge, and others Winter 2004.

23600/36000. Medieval Philosophy. Open to college and grad students. Prerequisites: Phil 25000. This course involves a study of the development of philosophy in the West in the first thirteen centuries of the common era with focus on Neoplatonism. Early Christian philosophy, Islamic Kalam, Jewish philosophy, and Christian philosophical theology. Readings include works of Plotinus, Augustine, Al-Farabi, Avicenna, Maimonides, Averroes, and Thomas Aquinas. Winter 2005, Winter 2007, Winter 2009. Syllabus

23801/33801. Theory of Reference III. (=DVPR 33800) PQ: PHIL 30000 or equivalent required; prior exposure to analytic philosophy recommended. This course is a survey of recent theories of names, descriptions, and truth. We discuss the relation of reference to meaning, as well as the epistemological and metaphysical consequences drawn from theses about reference. After briefly reviewing classical sources (e.g., Frege, Russell, Tarski), we concentrate on current work by Searle, Kripke, Donnellan, Kaplan, Putnam, Evans, Davidson, and Burge. (B) Spring 2005. Autumn 2009. Syllabus

24001/34001. Meaning. Open to college and grad students. Analysis of various conceptions of meaning, primarily with reference to natural language, and related notions such as analyticity, synonymy, intentionality, and intensionality, and of the philosophical uses of meanings, e.g., to ground claims of truth, necessity, and a priori knowledge. Readings may include Frege, Carnap, Quine, Kaplan, Grice, and Davidson.(B) Autumn 2006.

25110. Maimonides and Hume on Religion. Open to college students. This course will study in alternation chapters from Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed and David Hume's Dialogues concerning Natural Religion two major philosophical works whose literary forms are at least as important as their contents. Topics will include human knowledge of the existence and nature of God, anthropomorphism and idolatry, religious language, and the problem of evil. Time permitting, we shall also read other short works by these two authors on related themes. Winter 2006.

49700. Workshop: Preliminary Essay. Open to grad students. Third-year students finish this two-quarter course in the Autumn quarter; Second-year students take the first quarter of the course in the Spring term. Autumn 2005, Spring 2006, Spring 2005, Spring 2006, Winter 2006, Autumn 2004, Winter 2005, Autumn 2005, Spring 2005, Winter 2006, Spring 2006.
*Special note: This Workshop meets even weeks over three quarters.

53300. Philosophy of Language Contemporary work on semantics and the theory of reference. Selected topics to be decided in consultation with students in the Fall.(III) Winter 2010.