The pattern and process of language in use: A test case [Book Review]

Axiomathes 14 (1-3):177-218 (2004)
This paper is concerned with the kind of non-linear causation that lies behind the production and comprehension of speech in discourse, where multiple input data typically act in concert towards a determinate output. To this end Whitehead's philosophy of Process - in particular his theory of prehensions — is applied to the analysis of pragmatic implication and inference in a short literary excerpt, which involves the most complex kind of prehension, the `intuitive judgment'. This leads to a number of conclusions concerning the way in which patterns of linguistic behaviour can be evoked out of mere potentiality by contextually embedded prehensions that constrain and modulate the expression of intended discourse acts. Some of these constraints are attributable to the nature of focal consciousness itself. An extension of the Whiteheadian notion of subjective aim (usually understood to preside over a single actual occasion) will be necessitated, since in discourse this can clearly both be suspended and divided into subordinate sub-aims while the overall aim, still unfulfilled, is inherited from occasion to occasion.
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