Davidson on metaphor and conceptual schemes

Kotze, H. B. (Hendrik Benjamin) (2000-12)

Compilation of two papers, the first of which was accepted for publication in the South African Journal of Philosophy in the second half of 2001.

Why metaphors have no meaning : considering metaphoric meaning in Davidson. -- Bare idea of a conceptual scheme : relativism, intercultural communication and Davidson.

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2000.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: WHY METAPHORS HAVE NO MEANING: CONSIDERING METAPHORIC MEANING IN DAVIDSON Since the publication of Donald Davidson's essay 'What Metaphors Mean' (1984c) - in which he famously asserts that metaphor has no meaning - the views expressed in it have mostly met with criticism: prominently from Mary Hesse and Max Black. This article attempts to explain Davidson's surprise-move regarding metaphor by relating it to elements in the rest of his work in semantics, such as the principle of compositionality, radical interpretation and the principle of charity. I conclude that Davidson's views on metaphor are not only consistent with his semantic theory generally, but that his semantics also depend on these insights. Eventually, the debate regarding Davidson's views on metaphor should be conducted on the level of his views on the nature of semantics, the relationship between language and the world and the possibility of there existing something like conceptual schemes.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: WHY METAPHORS HAVE NO MEANING: CONSIDERING METAPHORIC MEANING IN DAVIDSON Sedert die publikasie van Donald Davidson se opstel 'What Metaphors Mean' (1984c) - waarin hy die berugte stelling maak dat metafoor geen betekenis het nie - is sy sieninge meestal begroet met kritiek, ook van prominente figure soos Mary Hesse en Max Black. Hierdie artikel poog om 'n verduideliking te vind vir Davidson se verassende skuif aangaande metafoor, deur sy sieninge hieroor te kontekstualiseer teen die agtergrond van elemente uit die res van sy werk in semantiek, soos die beginsel van komposisionaliteit, radikale interpretasie en die beginsel van rasionele akkomodasie ('charity'). Ek kom tot die gevolgtrekking dat Davidson se sieninge aangaande metafoor nie slegs naatloos aansluit by sy algemene sieninge aangaande semantiek nie, maar dat die res van sy semantiese teorie ook afhang van sy sieninge aangaande metafoor. Uiteindelik behoort die debat rakende Davidson se sieninge aangaande metafoor gevoer te word op die vlak van die aard van semantiek, die verhouding tussen taal en die werklikheid en die moontlike bestaan van konseptueie skemas.

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: THE BARE IDEA OF A CONCEPTUAL SCHEME: RELATIVISM, INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION AND DAVIDSON Donald Davidson's paper 'On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme' ('OVICS') has become famous for the refutation accomplished in it of conceptual relativism. Via an argument that, essentially, all languages are intertranslatable, Davidson rejects the notion that different conceptual schemes can inhere in the supposed 'un-translatable' languages said to exist by, for instance, Whorf and Kuhn. Critics of Davidson's position have mainly focussed on practical issues, with many holding that his arguments in 'OVICS' ignore the realities of the real intercultural communication situation. In the present paper, I address criticisms of this sort. Davidson's arguments are reconstructed, with attention being paid to their dependence on the idea of practical application in the real intercommunication situation. With the aid of practical examples, the implications of elements of Davidson's philsophy of interpretation for intercultural communication are evaluated. Finally, radical interpretation is presented as a better model for intercultural dialogue than linguistically relativist ones.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: THE BARE IDEA OF A CONCEPTUAL SCHEME: RELATIVISM, INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION AND DAVIDSON Donald Davidson se artikel 'On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme' het beroemdheid verwerf as teenargument vir die idee van konseptuele relativisme. By wyse van 'n argument dat alle tale in beginsel vertaalbaar is, verwerp Davidson die idee dat verskillende konseptueie skemas kan skuilgaan in die veronderstelde 'onvertaalbare' tale waarvan daar sprake is by byvoorbeeld Whorf en Kuhn. Kritici van Davidson se posisie beperk hul hoofsaaklik tot praktiese besware en 'n vername aanklag teen Davidson is dat hy die realiteite misken van werklike interkulturele gesprek. In hierdie artikel spreek ek sodanige kritiek aan. Ek herkonstrueer Davidson se argumente en voer aan dat dit deurgaans afhanklik is van die idee van toepassing in 'n praktiese situasie van interkulturele dialoog. By wyse van praktiese voorbeelde evalueer ek die implikasies van Davidson se filosofie van interpretasie vir interkulturele kommunikasie. Laastens bied ek radikale interpretasie aan as 'n beter model vir interkulturele dialoog as linguisties relativistiese modelle.

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