Pseudosentences, Auto-Misunderstanding, and Formalization

In Michael Nathan Goldberg, Andreas Mauz & Christiane Tietz (eds.), Missverstehen -- Zu einer Urszene der Hermeneutik. Brill | Schöningh. pp. 45-69 (2022)
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Abstract

In the early Analytic Philosophy, the concept of a pseudosentence was used as a polemical device. To try and formalize a sentence without success was a means to ›debunk‹ it as a pseudosentence. The classical example is Heidegger’s dictum of the nothing which noths. But, according to Carnap, not only did Carnap not understand what Heidegger said, but also Heidegger himself must have misunderstood his own utterances! Does Carnap's diagnosis remain intact if one admits the possibility of a misunderstanding and misconstrual on Carnap’s side, too? Should not Carnap's concept of formalization be substituted by that of logico-hermeneutical reconstruction in order to obviate any such infelicities? In everyday communication, we very rarely ever feel the need to undertake a significant effort to understand each other. This attitude is at odds with Friedrich Schleiermacher’s view that misunderstandings are ubiquitous and that one has to actively invest into the establishment of correct understandings. Therefore, one should ask: Are there good reasons to reject the view that we misunderstand ourselves all the time? Or: Is there any worth in the view that misunderstandings are prevalent? The answers developed in this paper are generalized so that they apply to philosophical contexts and a maxim of escalating formalization is formulated. The debate about peer disagreement is adduced as an illustration of philosophical practices that evade the maxim and thus stagnate cognitively.

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Moritz Cordes
Center for Advanced Internet Studies Bochum

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References found in this work

Foundations of Illocutionary Logic.John Rogers Searle & Daniel Vanderveken - 1985 - Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
The logical structure of the world.Rudolf Carnap - 1967 - Chicago and La Salle, Ill.: Open Court. Edited by Rudolf Carnap.
Disagreement.Jonathan Matheson & Bryan Frances - 2018 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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