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Meaning and communication

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-U024-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved May 18, 2024, from

Article Summary

The two fundamental facts about language are that we use it to mean things and we use it to communicate. So the philosophy of language tries to explain what it is for words and sentences to mean things and also what it is for us to communicate by using them. Although it cannot be accidental that meaning and communication go together, it is quite easy to see them as fundamentally distinct. Thus on some accounts the meaning of sentences is conceived in terms of a ‘representative’ power whereby they stand for either aspects of the world or ideas in the mind and their use in communication is derived from this property: language serves as a vehicle for meaning, itself thought of in independent terms. An alternative approach seeks to link the two more closely, seeing representation as itself only possible through the use of terms of a common language, used in communication.

Citing this article:
Blackburn, Simon. Meaning and communication, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-U024-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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