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Concise encyclopędia of philosophy of language


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« on: August 10, 2022, 09:05:08 am »

Concise encyclopędia of philosophy of language, edited by Peter Lamarque (1997)

A word about the underlying rationale might be helpful. First of all, the articles are not merely listed in alphabetical order, but grouped into sections covering major divisions of the subject: Language, Metaphysics, and Ontology; Language and Mind; Truth and Meaning; Reference; Language and Logic; Formal Semantics; Pragmatics and Speech Act Theory; and Key Figures. Within each section the articles are arranged alphabetically and there are often cross-references to other items in the section (or elsewhere), perhaps showing where ideas are further expanded. It is hoped that this division will make this encyclopędia easier to use by highlighting clusters of topics and giving some structure to the whole. Needless to say the divisions are not hard and fast and items could often appear under different headings.

Some articles are concerned with particular ideas or specialist terms: for example, A Priori, Category-mistake, Sortal Terms, Analyticity, Holism, Language Game, Entailment, itentionality, Inflationism, Ontological Commitment, Verificationism, Radical Interpretation, Type/Token Distinction, De Dicto/De Re, Denotation, and so on. The purpose of these entries is, in a relatively concise way, to explain the meanings of the terms and their place in philosophical debates. The information conveyed is of a straightforward explanatory kind, of especial help to those unfamiliar with this basic philosophical terminology.

Other articles take the form of surveys of an intellectual territory: for example, Meaning: Philosophical Theories, Indian Theories of Meaning, Semiotics, Literary Structuralism and Semiotics, Logic: Historical Survey, Pragmatics, Speech Act Theory, and the introductory article itself on Philosophy of Language. The point of these is to sketch out an area of enquiry, drawing a map on which specific debates are located and contextualized. The articles often involve accounting for the historical development of ideas.

Another kind of survey article tracks, not historically but intellectually, a particular area of contention, perhaps around a problematic concept or hypothesis, perhaps connected to a particular school of thought: for example Deconstruction, Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, Hermeneutics, Semantic Paradoxes, Metaphor, Metaphor in Literature, Rules, Truth, Deviant Logics, Presupposition, and Semantics vs. Syntax. These articles are much more likely to contain polemical discussion, assessing rival positions and staking out a point of view of their own. It is worth drawing attention here to the cluster of articles on Speech Act Theory, written by Keith Allan. Together these provide a comprehensive account of the ideas, debates, and controversies in this important branch of the philosophy of language. The divisions into separate articles are largely for ease of access, although anyone who is unfamiliar with the topic could profitably begin with Speech Act Theory: Overview.

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