Chapter

Language

Wallace Matson

in Grand Theories and Everyday Beliefs

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199812691
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919420 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199812691.003.0003
Language

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A natural vocable, such as a warning cry, causes the recipient to imagine the situation encountered by the utterer and to react suitably. But a true language requires arbitrary symbols, syntax, and semantics from which new sentences can be formed. This achievement opens up a new way of forming beliefs: by being told, enormously increasing the scope of beliefs. Since for this to work the default state of the receiver must be BELIEVE, it opens up the dangers of lies and misinformation also. And stories can be told, apt to ‘escape’ and become legends. People can believe for indefinite lengths of time what has never been rubbed up against reality, and is in fact not true. Language makes possible speech acts, which in turn create institutional facts that largely constitute the structures of human societies.

Keywords: language origin; speech act; institutional fact; rub up against reality; story; believe; symbol; syntax; sentence

Chapter.  3038 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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