SAAP Annual Meeting 2014

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Experiencing Language: What’s Missing in Linguistic Pragmatism?

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The emergence of linguistic pragmatism has given rise to a lively debate over whether philosophy should focus on language or experience. But the experience vs. language dichotomy is just another type of dualism of the sort that pragmatists ought to be wary of. We need to appreciate that, insofar as pragmatism aspires to elucidate and transform our meaningful experience, it must recognize that meaning goes deeper than language. What linguistic pragmatists hope to do with language cannot be done without meaning resources that are not themselves linguistic. Meaning, understanding, thinking, and valuing all have to be enacted as embodied processes. Moreover, no use or analysis of language is possible without an experience of meaning, and so we can never avoid experience in our philosophical undertakings, even granting that there is no perspective-free take on what some thing or event means.

Author(s):

Mark Johnson    
University of Oregon
United States

 

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