Scholars concerned with the phenomenon of mind have searched through history for a principled yet non-reductionist approach to the study of knowledge, communication, and behavior. Pragmatics has been a recurrent theme in Western epistemology, tracing itself back from pre-Socratic dialectics and Aristotle's bio- functionalism, all the way to Wittgenstein's content-dependent semantics.

This book's treatment of pragmatics as an analytic method focuses on the central role of context in determining the perception, organization, and communication of experience. As a bioadaptive strategy, pragmatics straddles the middle ground between absolute categories and the non-discrete gradation of experience, reflecting closely the organism's own evolutionary compromises. In parallel, pragmatic reasoning can be shown to play a pivotal role in the process of empirical science, through the selection of relevant facts, the abduction of likely hypotheses, and the construction of non-trivial explanations.

In this volume, Professor Givon offers pragmatics as both an analytic method and a strategic intellectual framework. He points out its relevance to our understanding of traditional problems in philosophy, anthropology, linguistics, cognitive psychology, neuro-biology, and evolution. Finally, the application of pragmatics to the study of the mind and behavior constitutes an implicit challenge to the current tenets of artificial intelligence.

chapter 1|33 pages


chapter 2|33 pages

Categories and Prototypes

Between Plato and Wittgenstein

chapter 4|46 pages

Propositional Modalities

Truth, Certainty, Intent, and Information

chapter 5|31 pages

The Pragmatics of Reference

Existence, Referential Intent and Thematic Import

chapter 6|31 pages

The Pragmatics of Anaphoric Reference

Definiteness and Topicality

chapter 7|31 pages

Modes of Knowledge and Modes of Processing

The Routinization of Behavior and Information

chapter 8|53 pages

Fact, Logic and Method

The Pragmatics of Science

chapter 9|45 pages

Language, Culture and Translation

chapter 10|35 pages

Adaptive Behavior, Group Variability and the Genetic Code

The Pragmatics of Evolutionary Change

chapter 11|20 pages

The Mystic as Pragmatist

Lao Tse and Taoism