Toward a Systematic Pragmatics

Toward a Systematic Pragmatics

Toward a Systematic Pragmatics

Toward a Systematic Pragmatics

Excerpt

The logical study of a language or of a language-system is usually one of three kinds. It is either syntactical, semantical, or pragmatical. In syntax one is interested exclusively in the signs or expressions of the language and their interrelations. In semantics, which presupposes syntax and contains it as a part, one is concerned not only with expressions and their interrelations but also with the objects which the signs denote or designate or stand for in one way or another. Finally, in pragmatics, there is reference not only to the signs and what they denote but also to the speakers or users of the language. Just as all syntactical notions reappear as semantical ones, so perhaps do all semantical notions reappear as pragmatical ones. Or it may be rather that only syntactical notions need reappear in pragmatics. In fact, we shall have two kinds of pragmatics to consider, depending upon whether a semantics or only a syntax is presupposed. One kind, that presupposing a semantics, is presumably the most inclusive discipline devoted to the formal study of language.

Syntax and semantics have undergone an intensive systematic development during the past few decades, to which philosophers and mathematicians have alike contributed. But no comparable development has taken place in pragmatics. Mathematicians have had little interest in the subject, and philosophical comment on pragmatics, valuable though it has been, has lacked the clarity and precision we have come to expect in exact syntactical and semantical investigations.

In this book several tentative but systematic theories of pragmatics of a restricted kind are presented. Each theory is systematic in the sense that it is expressed within a formalized meta-language, the full structure of which is specified. Each meta-language is called a pragmatical meta-language and consists of either a syn-

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