What is Pragmatics?

Pragmatics is the study of how people communicate and interpret each other’s words and actions. It is a key to successful communication because it helps to ensure that the message is understood correctly by the person receiving it. Pragmatics has a variety of applications, including language teaching and learning, human computer interaction, and business communication.

One of the biggest problems encountered when communicating is misinterpretation. This is because people interpret the meaning of a word differently, especially when it comes to the context in which it is used. For example, the word ‘foolish’ can have different meanings depending on the situation, and this is where pragmatics becomes important. Pragmatics also focuses on understanding the cultural background of the person in order to understand how they would interpret a particular word or phrase.

This is because culture plays a huge role in how we perceive the world around us and how we interact with it. The term ‘pragmatic’ can be applied to a number of aspects of our lives, and it is essential in order to succeed in a multicultural environment. For example, it is important to know what the meaning of a word is in different cultures because it can influence how we communicate with each other.

Some of the most prominent scholars in pragmatics are Charles Sanders Peirce and John Dewey. Both of these philosophers developed pragmatism in the 1870s, and they published several works on the subject in this period. Their ideas were widely disseminated, and they attracted a number of followers.

By the 1910s, Peirce’s work on semiotics had begun to attract significant attention, and he was developing a comprehensive philosophy of science, while Dewey was becoming a major figure in education, developing a new approach to the social sciences (see Mead 1934), and making a significant contribution to philosophical theory on issues of race and civil rights (see Du Bois 1946).

While there is no pragmatist creed, or list of essential tenets endorsed by all pragmatists, it is possible to identify themes and theses that have loomed large in the pragmatist tradition. The bibliography below lists some of the key works in which these themes are explored, including collections of Peirce’s writings and Dewey’s extensive philosophical output.

In addition to these classics, a number of more recent books address pragmatism and its legacy. For instance, Heney (2016) provides an exploration of a pragmatist metaethics, drawing on classical pragmatism. This demonstrates that pragmatism is a continuing and evolving movement, with scholars from all over the world contributing to its development.