"Give Me an Example": Peter Winch and Learning from the Particular

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Ondřej Beran

Abstract

The text deals with the role of particular examples in our understanding, especially in the encounters with unfamiliar cases that may require us to expand our concepts. I try to show that Peter Winch’s reflections on the nature of understanding can provide the foundations for such an account. Understanding consists in a response informed by a background network of particular canonical examples. It is against this background that the distinction between appropriate differentiated reactions and misplaced ones makes sense. To accommodate applications of known concepts (such as love, or humour) to unfamiliar cases, particular examples are needed that invite the recipient in a certain direction of understanding, while providing a “closure” against arbitrary mis- or re-interpretations. This capacity has to do with a capacity or incapacity to convey the sense of seriousness of an example dealing with the lives of the persons (or characters) concerned.

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Articles
Author Biography

Ondřej Beran, Centre for Ethics, University of Pardubice

Ondřej Beran is a researcher, based at Centre for Ethics as Study in Human Value (University of Pardubice). He works mainly in the philosophy of language and ethics, with occasional outreaches to other areas. He is the author of Living with Rules (Peter Lang 2018) and co-editor of From Rules to Meanings (Routledge 2018, with Vojtěch Kolman and Ladislav Koreň).

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