IV First Pattern of Analysis

1

WE were lead to a discussion of meaning by the study of such a term as "good." According to the definition presented in Chapter II, "This is good" is synonymous with "I approve of this; do so as well." This was instructive only as a working model, or first approximation to analysis. We have seen that the phrase, "Do so as well," used to stress agreement and disagreement in attitude, is much too crude. And the phrase, "I approve of this," although it gives a possible descriptive meaning to the judgment, is for many contexts arbitrarily simple. Our discussion of meaning will help us to remedy these deficiencies, and secure an analysis that is sensitive to the nuances and flexibilities of ordinary discourse.

Let us see how we can dispense with the overt imperative that was used in the working models, recognizing a more appropriate emotive meaning in its place.

This is not an easy task, and every care must be taken to avoid a superficial approach to it. One may be tempted to suppose that only an improved version of the working models is required. Some other phrase, less crude than the imperative, may seem to be available -- some phrase that will preserve the emotive meaning of "good" without noticeably distorting it. One may be inclined to suggest, for instance, that "This is good" has the same meaning (apart from linguistic flexibilities) as "Oh that you might approve of this as I do!" or "I approve of this, how fine it is!"

A moment's attention will show that these phrases fare no better than the working models. They have emotive meanings which fit them for strengthening or redirecting attitudes, and so resemble "This is good" in a rough way; but there is no situation in which they may replace the latter without changing emotive subtleties. The same is true of all other efforts to find an exact

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Ethics and Language
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Ethics and Language 1
  • II - Working Models 20
  • III - Some Pragmatic Aspects of Meaning? 37
  • Iv First Pattern of Analysis 81
  • V - First Pattern: Method 111
  • VI - Persuasion 139
  • VII - Validity 152
  • VIII - Intrinsic and Extrinsic Value 174
  • IX - Second Pattern of Analysis: Persuasive Definitions 206
  • X - Second Pattern: Method 227
  • XI - Moralists and Propagandists 243
  • XII - Some Related Theories 253
  • XIII - Further Observations on the Function of Definitions 277
  • XIV - Avoidability; Indeterminism 298
  • XV - Practical Implications 319
  • Index of Proper Names 337
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