Philosophy Lexicon of Arguments

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Understanding: the ability to give reasons for a distinction or to justify a selection of options. For the understanding of signs and words plays a role, whether one can connect an object with the word or sign, as well as whether one can replace the sign or word with another sign or word. In order to understand full sentences, the context must be grasped as well. A point of contention is whether knowing the truth conditions gives the sentence its meaning. In other words Whether there is the knowledge about what should be if the sentence were true. If that is correct, there is no need to know whether the sentence is true (cf. M. Dummett, Ursprünge der analytischen Philosophie Frankfurt 1992, p. 20). See also substitution, truth conditions, knowledge.

Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

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I 150 ff
Frege: Understanding before truth - truth indefinable (FregeVsTarski).
Dummett: in earlier works thesis: the theory of meaning is a theory of understanding.
Today: the relationship is more subtle. Neither of the two can be explained by the other respectively.
We can also express our understanding by means of other words. Replacement, interchangeability.
II 457
On the other hand it cannot apply generally that the understanding of expressions has the form of explicit knowledge and consists in the ability to explain expressions with other expressions. For this would result in a circle.
II 458 ff
Understanding: there are limits: we can only attribute an understanding to ourselves if we can show how to express it. The (metaphysical) realist must therefore show how our understanding (ultimately behavior) discloses that sentences are either true or false (even if we cannot decide). And that’s not possible.
II 463
Understanding: the linguistic understanding of a person cannot include a component that could not be expressed in the use of the language.
Understanding/Dummett: knowing the corresponding fact is not sufficient to understand a sentence.
EMD II 111
Understanding/Meaning Theory/Dummett: what would be a verification of the sentence - important argument: we need not be able to decide the sentence in order to understand him - 1) Two Dogmas Vs: most sentences involve inferences - 2) Vs: if truth is a basic concept, then there is no reason why we should know enough to deduce the meaning of a complex sentence from the constituents.
Dum III 70/71
Understanding/Truth/Dummett: in order for a sentence to be used for communication of information it must be possible to understand it before you know whether it is true - Transparency: if you attribute one meaning to two words each, one must know whether these meanings are the same - but: someone who grasps the sense (meaning) of two expressions, does not need to know that they have the same reference.
III 83
Language/Meaning/Dummett: E.g. exchange "table" with "eagle": then sentences such as "female tables lay eggs" etc. So the hoax is uncovered - Prerequisite: we already know sentences that do not contain "table" and "eagle"! -> Löwenheim-Skolem - you cannot assume a theory (collection of true sentences at a time) without an additional meaning theory.
III 96
(S) If all sentences contained "table" and "Eagle", then the meaning of the other words in these sentences could depend on these two words).

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.

Du I
M. Dummett
Ursprünge der analytischen Philosophie Frankfurt 1992

M. Dummett
Wahrheit Stuttgart 1982

G. Evans/J. McDowell
Truth and Meaning Oxford 1977

Ev I
G. Evans
The Varieties of Reference (Clarendon Paperbacks) Oxford 1989

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2017-10-22