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Proceedings of the British Academy, Volume 1172001 Lectures$
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F.M.L. Thompson

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780197262795

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197262795.001.0001

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The Disease of Language and the Language of Disease

The Disease of Language and the Language of Disease


(p.355) The Disease of Language and the Language of Disease
Proceedings of the British Academy, Volume 117


British Academy

This chapter raises some of the interlinked matters that have been very much at issue in press, television, and the world wide web since September 11. First is the role of the imagination itself, and of the unimaginable, in experiencing and categorising what we have difficulty understanding, and its role in our coming to terms with and coping with difficult matters of any kind. Second are the social interaction processes of categorisation and re-categorisation. Third is the contribution to our understanding provided by attention to the play of tropes in social life, and to the importance of tropology to our anthropology. Fourth are the multitude of moral issues and their claim upon our actions and reactions: the morality present in religious fundamentalism, for example. But also now under intense and renewed debate is the morality of political assassination, of racial profiling, of the employ of weapons of mass destruction. And fifth, in all of this and everywhere we find the disease of reification/entification of our newly realised world historical problem, the increasing disparity of well being. These are the diseases of language investigated here.

Keywords:   well being, social interaction, categorisation, re-categorisation, tropes, social life, tropology, morality, language, disease

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