Chapter

A Nice Derangement of Epitaphs

Donald Davidson

in Truth, Language, and History

Published in print February 2005 | ISBN: 9780198237570
Published online July 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191602610 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/019823757X.003.0007
A Nice Derangement of Epitaphs

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This essay argues that in linguistic communication, nothing corresponds to a linguistic competence as summarized by the three principles of first meaning in language: that first meaning is systematic, first meanings are shared, and first meanings are governed by learned conventions or regularities. There is no such a thing as a language, not if a language is anything like what many philosophers and linguists have supposed. We must give up the idea of a clearly defined shared structure which language users acquire and then apply to cases, as well as the attempt to illuminate how we communicate by appeal to conventions.

Keywords: first meaning; language; linguistic communication; interpretation; prior theory; passing theory

Chapter.  8000 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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