Sign Levels Synopsis

In: Contemporary Pragmatism
Author: D.S. Clarke1
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This Tractatus-style sequence of propositions describes logical features of natural language discourse, pre-linguistic levels of signs interpreted in associative learning and animal communication, and the specialized discourses of the institutions of science, religion, law, politics, and the arts. Its comprehensive scope is designed to help overcome the compartmentalization of philosophy into its branches of epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, and aesthetics. The general perspective is that of pragmatic naturalism as developed by the classical pragmatists Peirce, James, Schiller, and Dewey. Central to pragmatism is its emphasis on the use of practical inferences combining descriptive and expressive premisses with prescriptive “ought” conclusions guiding conduct. I argue that by making such inferences its focus, pragmatism enables contemporary philosophy to offset the effects of social specialization.