The Language of Wisdom and Folly: Background Readings in Semantics

By Irving J. Lee | Go to book overview

Naturally, with such an information-giving ideal as the basis of scientific effort, and with science enjoying prestige as the basic ideal of modern effort, the poet often felt his trade in jeopardy, a misgiving which he sometimes symbolized by despair, and sometimes by effrontery. In any event he knew--without telling himself in so many words --that this was not his kind of communication. It was not his business to give information about objects: he communicated when he established a moral identity with his group by using the same moral weightings as they used (for instance, a war poem in wartime). Add now the fact that this communalty of moral weightings was itself impaired, and you see the magnitude of his problems.

The proletarian morality advocated by Marx is an attempt to found such communalty of attitude upon a class-basis instead of considering society as a homogeneous whole. It seeks to found a new system of partisanship--and in this sense, although it is considered scientific by its adherents, it tends to replace the strictly scientific hopes for a neutral vocabulary by a new weighted vocabulary, which would be moral, or poetic. Probably the entire project for a neutral attitude towards the matter of experience is but transitional, resulting from the fact that so much new matter had come forward for inclusion in our scheme of judgments.


Language and the Communication of Thought1

JEAN PIAGET

Language would seem to enable the individual to communicate his thoughts to others. But the matter is not so simple. In the first place, the adult conveys different modes of thought by means of speech. At times, his language serves only to assert, words state objective facts,

____________________
1
From The Language and Thought of the Child. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1926, pp. 1-4. Reprinted by permission of Routledge and Kegan Paul, Ltd.

-41-

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The Language of Wisdom and Folly: Background Readings in Semantics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Part I - The Recognition of Words as Such 1
  • Everything Has a Name 3
  • The Phenomenon of Language 6
  • Symbolic Pointing 7
  • The Mobile Word 15
  • Two Types of Names 19
  • Precision in Natural Language1 23
  • Part II - The Functions and Purposes Of Language in Use 29
  • The Three Forms of Discourse 31
  • The Condition of Clarity1 41
  • The Functions of Poetry 48
  • Behavior That Language Makes Possible 57
  • Talking About the Weather 59
  • Part III - Matters of Fact, Fiction and Opinion 63
  • Matters of Fact and Opinion - George Cornewall Lewis 65
  • The Semantic Conception of Truth - Alfred Tarski 67
  • Every Man His Own Historian 71
  • Literature as Revelation 78
  • Knowledge by Definition 82
  • On the Logic of Fiction 92
  • Fictions, Hypotheses and Dogmas 101
  • Part IV - Questions and Answers 109
  • The Nature of a Question 111
  • "Footless" Questions 121
  • The How and the Why of Things 129
  • Part V - The Ambiguous Word 135
  • On Definition 137
  • Nominal and Real Definitions 139
  • How is "Exactness" Possible? 141
  • Definitions and Reality 149
  • Interpretation 160
  • Ambiguity and Its Avoidance 164
  • Part VI - The Recognition of Differences 173
  • Of General Terms 175
  • Realists and Nominalists 178
  • On Knowing the Difference 180
  • The Passion for Parsimony 184
  • The Individuality of Things and The Generality of Language 188
  • Part VII - Verbal Fascination 205
  • The Attributive Attitude - Ellis Freeman 207
  • Riefication 214
  • The Context of Associations 224
  • Part VIII - The Structural Patterns and Implications Of a Language 245
  • Perception and Language 247
  • An Experimental Study of the Effect Of Language on the Reproduction Of Visually Perceived Form 251
  • Language and Thought 262
  • Languages and Logic 273
  • Part IX - Escape from Verbalism 287
  • Sensation and Cerebration 289
  • An Address on Words and Things 295
  • Experience with Languages 305
  • Two Kinds of Knowledge1 309
  • Preparation of the Child for Science 310
  • Significs 336
  • Index 359
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