Topic: HUMAN SEMANTICS
TIME, TENSE AND REFERENCE
Edited by Aleksandar Jokic &Varieties of Meaning
The 2002 Jean Nicod Lectures
By Ruth Garrett Millikan
Many different things are said to have meaning: people mean to do various things; tools and other artifacts are meant for various things; people mean various things by using words and sentences; natural signs mean things; representations in people's minds also presumably mean things. In Varieties of Meaning, Ruth Garrett Millikan argues that these different kinds of meaning can be understood only in relation to each other.
What does meaning in the sense of purpose (when something is said to be meant for something) have to do with meaning in the sense of representing or signifying? Millikan argues that the explicit human purposes, explicit human intentions, are represented purposes. They do not merely represent purposes; they possess the purposes that they represent. She argues further that things that signify, intentional signs such as sentences, are distinguished from natural signs by having purpose essentially; therefore, unlike natural signs, intentional signs can misrepresent or be false.
Part I discusses "Purposes and Cross-Purposes" -- what purposes are, the purposes of people, of their behaviors, of their body parts, of their artifacts, and of the signs they use. Part II then describes a previously unrecognized kind of natural sign,
"locally recurrent" natural signs, and several varieties of intentional signs, and discusses the ways in which representations themselves are represented. Part III offers a
novel interpretation of the way language is understood and of the relation between semantics and pragmatics. Part IV discusses perception and thought, exploring stages in the development of inner representations, from the simplest organisms whose behavior is governed by perception-action cycles to the perceptions and intentional attitudes of humans.
Among the many branches of philosophy, the philosophy of time and the philosophy of language are more intimately interconnected than most, yet their practitioners have long pursued independent paths. This book helps to bridge the gap between the two groups. As it makes clear, it is increasingly difficult to do philosophy of language without any metaphysical commitments as to the nature of time, and it is equally difficult to resolve the metaphysical question of whether time is tensed or tenseless independently of the philosophy of language. Indeed, one is tempted to see philosophy of language and metaphysics as a continuum with no sharp boundary.
The essays, which were written expressly for this book by leading philosophers of language and philosophers of time, discuss the philosophy of language and its implications for the philosophy of time and vice versa. The intention is not only to
further dialogue between philosophers of language and of time but also to present new theories to advance the state of knowledge in the two fields. The essays are organized in two sections -- one on the philosophy of tensed language, the other
on the metaphysics of time.
THE SYNTAX OF TIME
Edited by Jacqueline Gueron and Jacqueline Lecarme
Any analysis of the syntax of time is based on a paradox: it must include a syntax-based theory of both tense construal and event construal. Yet while time is undimensional, events have a complex spatiotemporal structure that reflects their human participants. How can an event be flattened to fit into the linear time axis?
Chomsky's The Minimalist Program, published in 1995, offers a way to address this problem. The studies collected in The Syntax of Time investigate whether problems concerning the construal of tense and aspect can be reduced to syntactic problems for which the basic mechanism and principles of generative grammar already provide solutions.
These studies, recent work by leading international scholars in the field,offer varied perspectives on the syntax of tense and the temporal construal of events: models of tense interpretation, construal of verbal forms, temporal aspect versus lexical aspect, the relation between the event and its argument structure, and the interaction of case with aktionsart or tense construal. Advances in the theory of temporal interpretation in the sentence are also applied to the temporal interpretation of nominals.
Posted by Tony Marmo at 13:01 BST
Updated: Monday, 9 August 2004 07:44 BST