The philosophy of language as a distinct philosophical discipline has been in existence in the West for no more than 200 years. It acquired a special, constitutive role for the study of all speech dependent phenomena even more recently, in the 20th century, in close connection with the development, by analytic philosophy, of the tools or the logical analysis of linguistic expressions. All the same, one can find explicit discussion of language either parenthetically and dispersed throughout the text or else in larger ...
The philosophy of language as a distinct philosophical discipline has been in existence in the West for no more than 200 years. It acquired a special, constitutive role for the study of all speech dependent phenomena even more recently, in the 20th century, in close connection with the development, by analytic philosophy, of the tools or the logical analysis of linguistic expressions. All the same, one can find explicit discussion of language either parenthetically and dispersed throughout the text or else in larger disgressions in any philosophical treatise, whatever its historical period or philosophical tradition, non-Western cultures included. Furthermore, philosophical research on language is only seldom precisely demarcated from logic on the one hand and psychology on the other. In fact, even now, logic and philosophy of language have considerable overlap especially in the investigation of linguistic expressions from the point of view of "meaning", "truth", "deducibility". Similarly, psychology and philosophy of language overlap and sometimes compete in their analysis of the function of linguistic expressions in terms of the mental processes of speakers and listeners. The specificity of the phenomenon "language" vis-a vis that studied by logic and psychology has for a long time been considered to be confined to the domain covered by traditional grammar. In its beginnings, modern linguistics displays a remarkable unity between the science and the philosophy of language. Wilhelm von Humboldt's work is paradigmatic of this phase. But in this early romantic form, linguistic's independence was entirely subordinated to the services it rendered to the dominant science and philosophy of history of its time. Only slowly, in the course of the 19th century, did the science of language (=linguistic) dissociate itself from the philosophy of language, along two main lines, which partly compete with and partly complement each other methodologically. They determine the parameters of linguistics up to the present day and are known under the labels "historical-comparative" and "experimental-observational". As a result, the science of language becomes an "object-discipline", charged with expanding the empirical content of its assertions, whereas the philosophy of language becomes a "meta-discipline", whose task is the clarification of the conceptual frame underlaying talk about language. In so far as linguistics adopts the self-image of an empirical - i.e. "positive" - discipline, it excludes from its field those inquiries that lack empirical control yet are indispensable for understanding how the linguistic tools involved in doing science come into being. The philosophy of language thus achieves its independence in the capacity of a purely "reflexive", foundational research. Its last appearance in this form, before the shift towards a critique of language engineered by analytic philosophy, is in Ernst Cassirer's Philosophie der symbolischen Formen (1923-1929). The roughly hundred years of use of linguistic analysis in dealing with philosophical problems have been accompanied by an ever accelerating development of the philosophy of language. Such a development shows up both diachronically, in a better understanding of its historical predecessors, and synchronically, in a diversification of its conceptual tools. It takes place in a close connection with logic, linguistics, psychology, and their present-day offshoot , cognitive science; more recently it is qualified by a competition with semiotics and communication theory. The competitive stance derives from the fact that semiotics claims for itself an integrative function, in its capacity as a science of symbolic systems, and communication theory emphasises the communicative intensions underlying any language activity. If one views the use of symbols as a kind of empirically observable behaviour, itself mediated by symbols, then action theory (pragmatics/praxeology) and ethology, possib
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