What Is Pragmatics?
Pragmatics is a discipline that studies the practical aspects of human thought and action. It focuses on meaning and on the meaning potential of utterances, and considers how language can be used in a variety of situations. A pragmatist is someone who is concerned with facts and results, and usually hard-headed, sensible, and positive.
The origins of pragmatism in the United States date back to the 1870s, when Charles Sanders Peirce developed a set of ideas. At that time, Peirce conceived pragmatism as a scientific philosophy. But he later renamed it, in order to avoid possible kidnappers.
Peirce and William James both criticized one another. After a series of public lectures by both in 1898, pragmatism gained widespread popularity. This led to a renaming of pragmatism, which has now become a major intellectual force outside the United States.
Currently, there are several high-profile philosophers whose work explores pragmatism. These include: Hilary Putnam, Robert Brandom, Nicholas Rescher, Cornel West, Susan Haack, and R. John Dewey. They have contributed to a wide range of areas, including logic, philosophy, religion, linguistics, psychology, social science, and the arts.
Pragmatics was initially influenced by a scientific revolution centered on evolution. But the first generation of pragmatists focused on questions such as the nature of truth, the role of inquiry, and the role of social contexts in human action. Later, the second generation of pragmatists moved the focus of the study of pragmatism towards education and politics.
Today, pragmatism is an important framework for many research areas. It has influenced many disciplines, from political philosophy to anthropology, and has been applied to diverse fields such as ethics, religion, and law. In addition, it has inspired a vibrant research network spanning central Europe, Scandinavia, and South America.
One of the key concepts of pragmatism is relevance theory. This theory explains that every utterance contains enough information to be relevant. That is, when two people greet each other, each person understands who said what. Therefore, a pragmatist will have a good idea of what the other is referring to, and will thus have a better understanding of what is being said.
Another key feature of pragmatism is that it seeks to understand the relationship between the speaker and the listener. This is done through the use of a pragmatic language, which is a lexicon with a large scope. For example, “I have two sons” is a very factual statement, but if a person says, “Do you have any daughters?”, then the speaker’s answer will be changed to “I have two sons and a daughter.”
The third and most recent generation of pragmatists, led by George Herbert Mead, has incorporated pragmatist perspectives on the self and the community. They have also written about social justice and community-building.
The influence of pragmatism has spread far beyond the borders of the United States, and is now a central part of the intellectual landscape in Europe, Asia, and South America. As a result, a pragmatist is a person with a deep interest in the nature of truth and the way language is used.