Language & the Pursuit of Truth

Language & the Pursuit of Truth

Language & the Pursuit of Truth

Language & the Pursuit of Truth

Excerpt

This book is an attempt to do something new: to present semantics, which is the study of linguistic communication, to the general public. Since it is new, therefore, I must spend some time explaining what this study involves and why it is important enough to merit the attention which it has so far escaped.

The study of linguistic communication involves a great deal more than a knowledge of the grammar, syntax, style, literature or etymology of any language or languages. It attempts to improve our rational understanding of language in general, and our ability to argue, to answer questions, and to solve problems through the medium of words. It has been found impossible to do this effectively without regard to basic considerations, including the meanings of words and statements, their logical classification, and their various methods of verification. Although a knowledge of grammar and of the usage of one or more languages plainly ministers to this end, it would be idle to maintain that such knowledge was adequate to satisfy it completely.

Yet it does not take long to see how important the end is, and how important it is that we should take serious notice of any means which might help to bring it about. This importance is immensely increased by prevailing international conditions. All disputes and disagreements between nations must be conducted, either by blows, or by words: either by compulsion, or by persuasion: either by violence, or by peaceful discussion. The effects of modern . . .

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