The Importance of Pragmatic Language
Pragmatic language is a critical skill for children to develop because it helps them make connections with other people, communicate effectively and succeed in school. It involves a variety of linguistic and social skills, such as eye contact, pretend play, and recognizing different forms of communication.
The word pragmatic is derived from Greek words for “deed” and “state business.” It is an umbrella term for a variety of ways to communicate effectively in a social environment. It also refers to the idea that the world is an inseparable part of human action and experience.
This tradition of thought has been influential in a wide range of areas, including philosophy, psychology, economics, and political science. It is especially important to teachers who want to help students understand how language interacts with other social and cultural contexts.
Philosophers who have embraced pragmatism include William James (1842-1910), Charles Peirce (1839-1914), G.H. Mead (1863-1931), and John Dewey (1903-1963).
James, Peirce and Mead shaped a tradition that was popularized in the United States during the 1870s by a group of Harvard-educated men who met as members of a “Metaphysical Club.” These philosophers shared a common commitment to logical positivism, but they also had their own distinctive ideas and methods.
Although the philosophical work of these early pragmatists has been highly influential, pragmatism lost much of its momentum during the second half of the nineteenth century. This was in large part due to a lack of an established and influential figure who could serve as a’spiritual successor’ to its founders.
Modern pragmatists, however, have been more receptive to their philosophical roots. One such figure is Robert Brandom, who inherited his views from his teacher Richard Rorty and his historical readings in thinkers such as Kant and Hegel (Brandom 2011).
His view of truth and knowledge is influenced by both Peirce and James, and he also draws on the work of John Quine and Wilfrid Sellars. He also owes a lot to his teacher and mentor Richard Rorty’s work on discourse ethics.
He has developed a variety of ideas that are particularly relevant to the modern era, such as the idea that language is a complex system of intentions and recognition. His work has been influential in philosophy of religion, ethics, aesthetics and political theory.
The pragmatist approach to morality, however, has a troubling problem. Despite its appeal to down-to-earth thinking, it often leads to uncritical acceptance of moral preferences that benefit some but not others.
This is in contrast to a more philosophically oriented approach to morality, which argues that morality is a matter of principle, not a question of “is.” A pragmatist approach to morality might help some people justify their own ethical choices, but it can also be used to excuse the wrongful treatment of others.
It is therefore important to recognize when a student is not developing a full understanding of the pragmatics of language, and to provide them with instruction to build up their practical competence. This month’s Teacher’s Corner includes a range of resources and activities to teach pragmatics in the English classroom.