David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 8 (4):439-455 (2009)
It is sometimes argued that the study of grammar is irrelevant or unimportant in the business of comparative philosophy, or that it ought to be avoided in favor of methods that presuppose a strongly pragmatic point of view. In this regard, some philosophers have expressed skepticism about whether facts about grammar have anything to offer in the adjudication of competing theories of interpretation or translation. This essay argues that a strongly pragmatic orientation in comparative philosophy invariably overlooks an important role that the study of grammar can play in shedding light on the nature of intention and communicative practice, and that an essential part of the methodology of comparative philosophy should involve a grammatical approach to interpretation and translation. These points are supported by a semantical analysis of passages from Confucius’ Analects that clarifies the relationship between illocutionary force and grammatical mood.
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