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Difference between revisions of "Language and the Pursuit of Truth"

From

(Language and the Pursuit of Truth)
(''John Wilson'')
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E. PREJUDICE
 
E. PREJUDICE
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'''Preface'''
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This book attempts something new: to introduce the general public to semantics, the study of linguistic communication. This study goes beyond grammar, literature, style and so on, to the study of the meanings and the logical classification of words and statements, and the means of verification of statements.
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All the most important problems, the problems of religion, morals, politics and sociology, can only be solved via the use of words.
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The discovery of truth and the attainment of knowledge necessarily depend on a good understanding of language: in particular, of the notions of meaning and verification.
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The subject requires only the patience to master a particular technique.
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'''Chapter I. WORDS'''
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A. THE FUNCTION OF WORDS
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• Words are tools.
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• A word acts as a sign - something which conveys meaning and can be interpreted.
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• It is misleading to talk of words standing for things or 'having meanings': they have uses.
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B. TYPES OF WORDS
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• Proper nouns name, or 'stand for', things; but class-nouns do not stand for anything.
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• Adjectives, verbs and adverbs do not stand for things, but their shared use depends on regularities in experience.
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• We are not tempted to think that prepositions, pronouns, interjections, conjunctions and articles refer directly to experience.
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• The following are basic uses of words.
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1. Descriptive words
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• These give information about the world.
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• They vary in concreteness: compare 'The cat is on the mat' and 'The Norman way of life began to establish itself in England in 1066'.
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• Some describe tendencies or relationships, or the properties of other words.
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• Words expressing scientific concepts are descriptive in a peculiar way. Their meanings are determined partly by experience, partly by the role they play in theory; therefore gravity and electrons are not things in the same sense that billiard-balls and falling bodies are things.
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2. Evaluative words
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3. 'Pointer' words
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4. Interjections
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C. MISTAKES ABOUT WORDS
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1. Magic
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2. Ambiguity

Revision as of 16:36, 5 November 2010

John Wilson

CONTENTS


Preface

Select Bibliography


Chapter I. WORDS


A. THE FUNCTION OF WORDS

B. TYPES OF WORDS

1. Descriptive words 2. Evaluative words 3. 'Pointer' words 4. Interjections

C. MISTAKES ABOUT WORDS

1. Magic 2. Ambiguity


Chapter II. STATEMENTS


A. THE FUNCTION OF STATEMENTS

1. Poetic communication 2. Prose communication


B. VERIFICATION


C. TYPES OF STATEMENTS

1. Imperatives and attitude-statements 2. Empirical statements 3. Analytic statements 4. Value statements 5. Metaphysical statements


Chapter III. TRUTH


A. THE CONDITIONS OF TRUTH

B. THE BASIS OF MEANING AND VERIFICATION

C. VALUE STATEMENTS

D. METAPHYSICAL STATEMENTS

E. PREJUDICE


Preface

This book attempts something new: to introduce the general public to semantics, the study of linguistic communication. This study goes beyond grammar, literature, style and so on, to the study of the meanings and the logical classification of words and statements, and the means of verification of statements.

All the most important problems, the problems of religion, morals, politics and sociology, can only be solved via the use of words.

The discovery of truth and the attainment of knowledge necessarily depend on a good understanding of language: in particular, of the notions of meaning and verification.

The subject requires only the patience to master a particular technique.


Chapter I. WORDS


A. THE FUNCTION OF WORDS

• Words are tools.

• A word acts as a sign - something which conveys meaning and can be interpreted.

• It is misleading to talk of words standing for things or 'having meanings': they have uses.


B. TYPES OF WORDS


• Proper nouns name, or 'stand for', things; but class-nouns do not stand for anything.

• Adjectives, verbs and adverbs do not stand for things, but their shared use depends on regularities in experience.

• We are not tempted to think that prepositions, pronouns, interjections, conjunctions and articles refer directly to experience.

• The following are basic uses of words.


1. Descriptive words

• These give information about the world.

• They vary in concreteness: compare 'The cat is on the mat' and 'The Norman way of life began to establish itself in England in 1066'.

• Some describe tendencies or relationships, or the properties of other words.

• Words expressing scientific concepts are descriptive in a peculiar way. Their meanings are determined partly by experience, partly by the role they play in theory; therefore gravity and electrons are not things in the same sense that billiard-balls and falling bodies are things.

2. Evaluative words

3. 'Pointer' words

4. Interjections


C. MISTAKES ABOUT WORDS


1. Magic


2. Ambiguity