New Books in Science

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episode 92: Daniel Oberhaus, "Extraterrestrial Languages" (MIT Press, 2019)

In Extraterrestrial Languages (MIT Press 2020), Daniel Oberhaus tells the history of human efforts to talk to aliens, but in doing so, the book reflects on the relationship between communication and cognition, the metaphysics of mathematics, about whether dolphins have a language, and more. The challenge of communicating with extraterrestrials forces scientists and linguists to consider a range of problems. Would these listeners recognize radio signals as linguistic? How would they decode and interpret them? Would ETs even have linguistic capacities to begin with? Oberhaus shares the stories of, and theoretical bases for, a range of attempts to communicate with ETs, along the way tackling fundamental questions in linguistics, philosophy, mathematics, science, and even art.

Malcolm Keating is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Yale-NUS College. His research focuses on Sanskrit philosophy of language and epistemology. He is the author of Language, Meaning, and Use in Indian Philosophy (Bloomsbury Press, 2019) and host of the podcast Sutras (and stuff).

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 2021-01-06  59m