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The philosophical grounds of pragmatics (and vice versa?)

McHoul, A. (1997) The philosophical grounds of pragmatics (and vice versa?). Journal of Pragmatics, 27 (1). pp. 1-15.

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This paper has a major and a minor theme running concurrently. The major theme is a rethinking of the grounds of the discipline of pragmatics. So far, it seems to me, pragmatics has been grounded in various kinds of Lebensphilosophie, ordinary language philosophy, pretranscendental phenomenology, speechactism, positivism, and so on. All of these begin by simply asserting the factical character of the world and denying any possibility of the transcendental (the domain of prior general conditions). Paradoxically, this denial has meant a reliance on the pragmatic as a pure presence, as a pure facticity, as a pragmaticity in general whose condition (for pragmatic inquiry itself) may or may not be a transcendental condition. Pragmatics itself could never make that decision, precisely because of its radical (and perhaps violent) exclusion of all transcendental investigations. For this reason, the transcendental has always to be kept at bay — for it always threatens to reinvade any naively empiricist pragmatics. Hence my major theme involves a passage through the transcendental: one which I believe must be taken in order to see more clearly where the domain of the pragmatic lies in relation to its other. My minor theme — whose outline I am barely capable of thinking, so sluggish is my philosophical competence — is to suggest to non-empiricist philosophy that there may be virtue in the empirical, the particular and the factical, and that, according to at least one of its recent practitioners, there may be some good reasons for revisting and reconstructing the traditional empiricist idea that the very conceptualisation which philosophy is has prior pragmatic grounds.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Humanities
Publisher: Elsevier
Copyright: 1996 Elsevier BV
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