Mo 20 Jan 2014 | 15:00–17:00

Philology as the Study of Concepts: The Case of “Likeness”

Convened by the Fellows of Zukunftsphilologie 2013/14

Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin

"I answer that there are as many kinds of likeness as there are many ways of sharing in a form." Thus Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century used his response to the question, "in what way is there a likeness of creatures to God?" as an occasion to clarify the difficult and equivocal idea of "likeness".
 Aquinas knew that the term was important and in need of clarification. As should we. "Likeness", after all, has been used in the explanations or definitions of central concepts in diverse disciplines. Here is a list, selected at random, and by no means exhaustive: sympathy (and so antipathy) in ethics and pre-modern physiology and cosmology; identity (and so difference); meaning of generic terms; mimesis; analogy in logic, rhetoric and law; similarity; plausibility; causation (including the concepts of anomalies and miracles); representation (in art, and in philosophy of mind); memory; taxonomies from linguistics to natural philosophy; truth.
 Indeed, Aquinas was not alone in seeing the importance of this seemingly ubiquitous and sinuous idea. There are (and have been) a number of ways of thinking about likeness (and the many kinds of likeness), articulated, used, defended and contested, in several traditions, in several languages, and across several disciplines.
By allowing "likeness" to come into view by returning it to a broader textual world, this panel will show how philology can serve the study of concepts. We offer case studies from neglected archives and traditions, bringing these to bear on the concept of likeness and its many roles in different disciplines and paradigms of thought:

Sonam Kachru: "What is it Like to become a Likeness of Oneself?": Scenes from Sanskrit Literature (c. 100 B.C.E - 200 C.E) [10 min]

Thibaut d’Hubert: Weighing Words, measuring Narratives: The Term upamā in Middle Bengali Analogical Hermeneutics (c. 17th CE) [10 min]

Amr Osman: Similar or Dissimilar, It doesn’t really matter. A Debate over Analogy in Islamic Law. [10 min]

Esha Sil: ‘His His, Whose Whose’: Individual Difference, East Bengali Otherness and the Talking Practice of Adda (post 1947) [10 min]

Mishka Sinha: "Every Like is not the Same": The Conceptual Slipperiness of Sanskrit in Nineteenth Century Britain and America [10 min]

Roy Tzohar: Likeness, Metaphors, and Unlimited Semiosis: an Indian Buddhist Case Study (5th Century AD) [10 min]

Moderation and Introduction: Islam Dayeh

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