Steen Nepper Larsen

My master thesis supervisor was Steen Nepper Larsen – in my mind of the best philosophers in Denmark. “Best” in the sense “living” and “authentic” (whatever that means). Always questioning, always moving forward, trying to be affirmative with a critical touch, always downplaying and thereby also foregrounding a very unique humor. Had he only learned to use Twitter (10 years before Twitter was invented(, he would have been Svend Brinkmann (except he would care to be Svend Brinkmann).

Anyways, reading his Sproget er alles og ingens (English: something like “language belongs to everyone and no no-one”) is  a really nuanced, thought-provoking, funny and enlightning read (from 1995).

It is about language role in epistemology .. or the ontology of language and meaning and understanding. Presenting different perspectives and being very generous with extremely interesting quotes like (in Danish):

Erkendelsens utopi ville vaere at aabne det begrebsloese med begreber uden at goere det lig med den (Adorno, Negative Dialektik, 1966)


Ordet teori har et religioest ophav. Theoros var navnet paa den representant de graeske byer sendte til de offentlige festspil, I theoria nemlig som tilskuer betragter han den sakrale ceremoni. I filosofisk sprogbrug bliver theoria overfoert  paa betragtningen af kosmos (Habermass, Erkendelse og Interessse, 1965)


I begrebet sprogvaesen ligger den viden implicit, at vi altid selv er taenkt er sproget, naar vi taenker det; at vi ikke kan stille det frem foran os som en struktur, bestaaende af relationer og objekter… sproget (er) vokset saa meget ind i hele vores eksistens, at vi ikke kan traede tilbage fra det.. (Ole Fogh Kirkeby, selvnoedighedens filosofi 1995)

The books contains 10 perspectives on language and concludes with a wonderful discussion about what it means to speak and what the possibilities of language is. 120 pages. Just read it.





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