Semantic Perception: How the Illusion of a Common Language Arises and Persists

Paperback | October 15, 2015

byJody Azzouni

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Jody Azzouni argues that we involuntarily experience certain physical items, certain products of human actions, and certain human actions themselves as having meaning-properties. We understand these items as possessing meaning or as having (or being capable of having) truth values. Forexample, a sign on a door reading "Drinks Inside" strikes native English speakers as referring to liquids in the room behind the door. The sign has a truth value - if no drinks are found in the room, the sign is misleading. Someone pointing in a direction has the same effect: we experience hergesture as significant. Azzouni does not suggest that we don't recognize the expectations or intentions of speakers (including ourselves); we do recognize that the person pointing in a certain direction intends for us to understand her gesture's significance. Nevertheless, Azzouni asserts that weexperience that gesture as having significance independent of her intentions. The gesture is meaningful on its own. The same is true of language, both spoken and written. We experience the meanings of language artifacts as independent of their makers' intentions in the same way that we experience an object's shape as a property independent of the object's color. There is a distinctive phenomenology to theexperience of understanding language, and Semantic Perception shows how this phenomenology can be brought to bear as evidence for and against competing theories of language.

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Jody Azzouni argues that we involuntarily experience certain physical items, certain products of human actions, and certain human actions themselves as having meaning-properties. We understand these items as possessing meaning or as having (or being capable of having) truth values. Forexample, a sign on a door reading "Drinks Inside" s...

Jody Azzouni is Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University. He is the author of Deflating Existential Consequence (OUP, 2004), Tracking Reason (OUP, 2006), and Talking about Nothing (OUP, 2010).
Format:PaperbackDimensions:386 pages, 9.09 × 6.1 × 0.98 inPublished:October 15, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190275545

ISBN - 13:9780190275549

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Table of Contents

General IntroductionMethodological preliminaries1. The experience of understanding expressions2. Illusions of meaning3. The phenomenological what is said4. The experienced distinction between what is said and implicated contentFirst Methodological Interlude: Special Sciences and Evidence5. Strict content6. Truth-contentSecond Methodological Interlude7. The use and misuse of communicative intentions: Grand-style neo-Griceanism8. Opportunistic applications of posited communicative intentions9. Artificial extensions of natural languageGeneral ConclusionBibliography

Editorial Reviews

"One has the sense, reading this book, that it is the product of years of thinking hard about fundamental matters. There is a good deal of originality here, approaching well worked-over topics in new and promising ways." --Howard Wettstein, Professor of Philosophy, University of California, Riverside