Mind, Code and Context: Essays in Pragmatics

1st Edition

T. Givon

Psychology Press
Published June 1, 1989
Reference - 474 Pages
ISBN 9780898596076 - CAT# ER2310
Series: Neuropsychology and Neurolinguistics Series

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Summary

Scholars concerned with the phenomenon of mind have searched through history for a principled yet non-reductionist approach to the study of knowledge, communication, and behavior. Pragmatics has been a recurrent theme in Western epistemology, tracing itself back from pre-Socratic dialectics and Aristotle's bio- functionalism, all the way to Wittgenstein's content-dependent semantics.

This book's treatment of pragmatics as an analytic method focuses on the central role of context in determining the perception, organization, and communication of experience. As a bioadaptive strategy, pragmatics straddles the middle ground between absolute categories and the non-discrete gradation of experience, reflecting closely the organism's own evolutionary compromises. In parallel, pragmatic reasoning can be shown to play a pivotal role in the process of empirical science, through the selection of relevant facts, the abduction of likely hypotheses, and the construction of non-trivial explanations.

In this volume, Professor Givon offers pragmatics as both an analytic method and a strategic intellectual framework. He points out its relevance to our understanding of traditional problems in philosophy, anthropology, linguistics, cognitive psychology, neuro-biology, and evolution. Finally, the application of pragmatics to the study of the mind and behavior constitutes an implicit challenge to the current tenets of artificial intelligence.

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