This collection begins with the assumption that communication through language is possible. The moot question it is engaged with is whether the communicability of meaning entails the objectivity of meaning or not. The nuances involved in the idea of objectivity are deciphered and in what sense meaning is objective, if at all, is discussed in the volume.
The articles included in this volume are written from the Western as well as from the Indian philosophical perspectives. Philosophical views of Wittgenstein, Searle, Putnam, Davidson, Quine, McDowell and many such eminent philosophers from the West, and the views of scholars of Nyaya, Buddhism and Mimamsa schools of Indian philosophy are studied closely in these articles.
Researchers interested in the issue of objectivity and communicability of meaning of language will find food for their thought in reading this book. Students of philosophy, linguistics, logic mathematics and the allied subjects in Western and Indian traditions will have a clear grasp of the nature of meaning that is made explicit in this collection.
Sadhan Chakraborti, Professor of Philosophy at Jadavpur University, India is deeply engaged in research in the areas of philosophy of logic, philosophy of language and philosophy of mind. He has written extensively in reputed journals and edited volumes on the philosophical issue of realism and on many philosophical issues relating to semantics of language. Some of the books and anthologies to his credit are Realism and Its Alternatives: Some Contemporary Issues; Belief and Meaning: An Exploration of the Indian Psyche (edited); Mind and Language (edited) and Ethical Issues in Mental Health Services (edited).
Gangadhar Kar, at present holding the chair of the Head, Department of Philosophy, Jadavpur University, India has been teaching Indian philosophy for last thirty years. He has obtained the degree of Nyayacarya, Tarkatirtha and Masters in Sanskrit. His areas of research include Indian philosophy and philosophy of language. He has published papers in English, Bengali and Sanskrit extensively in reputed journals and anthologies. Some of the books he owns are Mahabhasyam (Translation in Bengali with commentary), Tarkabhasa vols. I& II (Translation in Bengali with commentary), Vyaptipancaka (Translation in Bengali with commentary), Sabdasaktiprakasika (Translation in Bengali with commentary) and Sabdartha-Sambandha-Samiksa (in Bengali).
The issue of how communication through language is possible has occupied a significant place in the philosophical study of language. The felt need of giving reply to the sceptical challenge regarding the possibility of communication through language as well as exploring the nature of meaning have engaged philosophers in this kind of study from time immemorial.
In order to give a satisfactory account of communicability of meaning many philosophers have argued that meaning must be objective. For these philosophers communicability of meaning is closely connected with its objectivity. Some philosophers have tried to explain the communicability of meaning without admitting its objectivity.
On the one hand subjectivity or inter-subjectivity of meaning poses a challenge to the sharability and learnability of language. Objectivity of meaning, on the other hand, appears to vitiate the social character of meaning.
A resolution of this dilemma requires a threadbare analysis of the situation from Indian and Western perspectives. The articles included in this volume address, directly or indirectly, the issue of objectivity and communicability of meaning.
The objectivity thesis regarding meaning is championed by Gottlob Frege in Western philosophy of language. For Frege the meaning of an expression is constituted by its sense. Senses of expressions of a language belong to a reality which, according to Frege, is objective in nature. When we understand the meaning of a sentence used by a speaker of a language what we do is that we grasp the sense of the sentence including the senses of the sub- sentential expressions.
Wittgenstein abandoned Frege’s theory of meaning with senses as objective presentations of reality and its truth functional conception of the form of propositions. W.V. Quine also rejects the Fregean theory by characterizing the Fregean senses as creatures of darkness.
G.E. Moore and Bertrand Russell, like Frege, propounded the objectivity thesis of meaning of linguistic expressions. Their views have been severely criticized by P.F. Strawson, Saul kripke and others.
In recent Western philosophy of language one formidable approach to meaning is naturalizing or objectivising meaning of linguistic expressions. Quine has championed this approach. Amitabha Dasupta has made an attempt to rescue meaning from this recent tendency.
The issue of objectivity of meaning is closely connected with the issue of communicability of it. Sceptics have questioned the very possibility of communication through language, which is an assumption in philosophy of language. Donald Davidson has tried to reply to the sceptical challenge concerning the communicability of meaning. Kaushik Bhattacharya has given a critical estimate of Davidson’s reply to the sceptical challenge.
The issue of communicability of meaning in the use of a language involves the question whether the meaning of a sub-sentential expression is communicated (or understood) in isolation or in the context of a sentence. Nirmalya Harayan Chakraborty deals extensively with this particular issue giving special reference to Frege’s Grunlagen.
The debate over the philosophical issue as to whether meaning is internal or external to the mind is one of the hot debates in the contemporary philosophy of language. R.C. Pradhan critically evalutes some form of externalism as propounded by Hilary Putnam and Tyler Burge who also defend meaning holism.
D. Prahladachar has begun with the question what does a word in a sentence communicate. He takes into consideration various theories in Indian philosophy on this issue. Abhihitanvayavada and Anvitabhidhanavada, among other theories, have been thoroughly discussed. He has focused on the Madhva theory of Anvitabhidhanavada and has given his own comments on it.
In Indian philosophy the concept of sakti of a world is one of the key concepts. Gangadhar Kar made an attempt to give a detailed description of the nature of sakti, which is involved in linguistic communication. Jatipadarthavada is one of the important theories in the context of meaning of linguistic expressions. Madumita Chattopadhyay has discussed whether the word akasa can be meaningful in Jatipadarthavada.
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