How speech-acts are conquering the world


How speech-acts are conquering the world

 Luk van Langenhove  (CRIS, United Nations University)



This talk is about the ontology of the social realm. It will be argued that the 'substance' of the social world is made out of speech-acts. They can be regarded as the equivalent of what matter is for the natural world. But where matter can be situated in an Euclidean time-space grid, speech-acts exist in a different grid that is non-Euclidean. As such, speech-acts constantly shape a 'parallel universe' to the natural world: a social world that allows persons and institutions to exist and interact. In that world causality exists next to intentionality.


Furthermore, it will be argued that in the course of the history of mankind, speech-acts have found technological devices to become more independent of people. They can now 'travel' instantly across the planet or stay dormant for many years and come back to live again. Together, the universe of speech acts form a world wide web that envelops all people on Earth.




Finally , the question will be raised if this metaphorical view of the substance of the social realm can be pushed further: are we entering a new era in which speech-acts can interact with other speech-acts without persons as intermediates?


Van Langenhove, L. (2007). Innovating the Social Sciences. Vienna: Passagen.
Van Langenhove, L. (2010). People and Societies. London: Routledge.
Van Langenhove, L. (2012). Make social sciences relevant, Nature, vol 484, p. 442.

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