What is Pragmatics?
Pragmatics is an interdisciplinary field of study that involves the practical aspects of human thought and action. In particular, it focuses on the nature of truth and the role of language in our lives. It is considered to be an alternative to analytic and continental philosophy.
Besides analyzing meaning, pragmatics also takes into account the social and physical contexts of a particular statement. For example, if I ask “Do you have any daughters?” the meaning of the statement changes from “I have two sons” to “Do you have any daughters?” This is a pragmatic example because it illustrates the role of context in the interpretation of an utterance.
Although pragmatists focus on meaning, they do not try to create a big, coherent system of truth. Rather, they prioritize useful knowledge over certainty. Similarly, they adopt new ideas when they become useful, but drop them when they lose value.
Pragmatics is the basis of all language interactions. Because of this, it is important to understand the concepts of pragmatics and the ways they work. If you’re not sure, you may want to learn more about this discipline and how it can help you make better decisions.
A pragmatic person is often rational, sensible, and practical. They are usually complimented for their good judgment. Their decisions are based on their experiences and consequences. However, this does not mean that they are always right. Having a pragmatic mindset also means having an open mind to things that do not appear to be true.
The term pragmatism originates from the Latin word pragmaticus, which means practical. It was developed in the United States by William James and Charles Sanders Peirce around 1870. While many of the concepts of pragmatism are still debated, these early figures laid the groundwork for a number of influential philosophers, including W.E.B. Du Bois, George Herbert Mead, John Dewey, and Jane Addams.
Various formalizations of pragmatics are rooted in context dependence. Those include the semantics of indexicals, problem of referential descriptions, and the formal theory of formal pragmatics. But the main framework of pragmatism remains relevance theory, which states that every utterance conveys enough relevant information.
Pragmatics has influenced a variety of fields, including sociology, anthropology, psychology, economics, and politics. However, its intellectual center is shifting out of North America and into Central and South America, Europe, and Asia. Many pragmatists are focusing on the implications of pragmatism for politics and religion.
During the first generation of pragmatists, the emphasis was on the nature of truth and inquiry. However, the second generation focused on the social aspect of pragmatism. As a result, pragmatists started to focus more on education, politics, and other areas of society.
Robert Brandom is a pragmatist philosopher who is particularly interested in semantics. He is critical of classical pragmatists like Peirce and Kant, but he owes much more to Richard Rorty and Wilfrid Sellars than to the more traditional pragmatists. Brandom’s philosophy of language is a departure from the classical pragmatists, and his interests are more in the linguistic and semantics of a language.