The methodological choices made by philosophers of language John R Searle and Willard van Orman Quine greatly affect their capacity to shed light on the problematic relationship between conventions and communication. Much of the debate between Searle and Quine is not explicitly directed at this relationship; however, when one trawls their works for a solution, problem in mind, their views become conspicuous, like colours in a picture that stand out when viewed through a coloured filter. When the task is solving the problematic relationship between conventions and communication, Searle’s approach prevails over Quine’s. Quine’s methodology presupposes that communication is always underdetermined and that the only means by which to gain knowledge of conventions is to search out behavioural regularities. Contrariwise, Searle’s methodology presupposes that any competent language user already possesses all they need to communicate. From there he looks to study the rule-based conventions of communication. This Lydian Mode entry analyses Quine’s and Searle’s methodologies to find if they possess the capacity to solve the problematic relationship between conventions and communication. It concludes that Searle’s theory of speech acts creates the possibility for bridging the gap in our understanding of conventions and their role in communication. Whether it then solves the problematic relationship, however, is yet to be determined.
Immediately upon seeing the title of this recent work by Michael Allen Gillespie, The Theological Origins of Modernity, you may think, ‘Here’s another conservative attempting to show that the modern era did not radically break with religion like we moderns commonly assume – another regressive intellectual wishing to denounce secularism as not-so-secular’. ‘Perfect’, I say. On first appearances, arguments like Gillespie’s are prone to two weaknesses.
Firstly, if someone argues that modernity has theological origins they cannot also argue that the corruption of the West, the permissive nature of modern society and so on and so forth are the product of modern secularism (a complaint common among regressives). Why? Because secularism does not exist by this thesis. Secularism is just theology in public-sphere clothing. This is the minor weakness.