COMMUNICATION AND UNDERSTANDING


Oslo University 1982 (published internally, Office of Foreign Students)
by Robert C. Priddy
Official textbook for Foreign Students preparing for the
Examen Philosophicum examination under the administration of the author from 1982 - 1985.

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CONTENTS AND PREFACE

PART TWO
PRINCIPLES OF REASON

11. LOGIC - INTRODUCTION AND WORKING DEFINITIONS
Particular/general; categorical/hypothetical: descriptive/prescriptive: analytic/synthetic - Exercises

12. THE PRINCIPLES OF VALID INFERENCE - Exercises and solutions


13. LOGICAL FALLACIES - Exercises and solutions

14. THE PRINCIPLE OF RELEVANCE TO AN ISSUE

15. ORDERED SURVEYS OF ARGUMENTS ON AN ISSUE - Exercises.

16. MODEL EXAMINATION QUESTIONS
(as set by the author for the Examen Philosophicum at the University of Oslo, 1975-1984)

PART THREE
THE PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE AND UNDERSTANDING

17. THEORY OF SCIENCE
Introduction
What is Science? Scientific Generalisation
System - Nomothetic & Ideographic science - Method

18. SCIENTIFIC EXPLANATION
Extensional and Intentional explanation
The Practical-Inert field
Functional explanation
Morphological explanation
Causal Explanation
'Laws'and Theories
Universal determinism vs. voluntarism
Predictability and quantification

19. DEDUCTION AND INDUCTION
Methods of direct induction
Axiomatic systems
Enumeration and Analogy
Hypothetical-deductive method
Observation
Experiment/measurement
Hypothesis
Hypothetical-deductive method exemplified in natural science

20. HERMENEUTICS: THEORY OF INTERPRETATION OF MEANING
The Interpretation of whole texts
E. Betti's Hermeneutical Theory
Objectivity in the interpretation of texts
Intentional and Extensional Frames of Reference

21. PHILOSOPHICAL UNDERSTANDING- HERMENEUTICS AND PHENOMENOLOGY

The Intentionality of Consciousness: Brentano's thesis
Edmund Husserl's Phenomenological Method
From phenomenology to general theory of understanding


PREFACE


This book states and accounts for a number of principles important to the effective communication of meaning, correct reasoning and the interpretation of texts. These subjects are brought together within one consistent paradigm and easily-understood terminology that conforms as far as possible to established works in these fields. Copious examples of the use and misuse of language in practice serve to demonstrate the application of the principles. As such, the aim has been to provide a practical method of language analysis and interpretation suitable to the critical examination of the spoken word and texts, whether academic, scientific, political or general.

For systematic pedagogical purposes the book is divided into three sections of progressive difficulty:
1) Principles of Efficient Communication
2) Principles of Reason - Traditional Logic
3) Principles of Understanding

In the first section (Principles of Efficient Communication) conventions which underlie the effective use of language are stated as principles to follow when communicating with a view to clarity of meaning. Issues and views relevant to contemporary life are used as material for examples and exercises.
The theoretical background for much of this section is the work of Professor Arne Næss of the University of Oslo. His textbook, translated as "Communication and Argument" (Oslo 1966), has been used throughout two decades at all Norwegian universities as the basis of a one-semester course for the obligatory Examen Philosophicum and has been widely used in other institutes of higher learning and adult education both in Scandinavia and abroad. Further, the course to which it gave rise has been developed by many philosophy teachers, particularly at the University of Oslo where my many colleagues of the Philosophy Teachers' Association have made important advances in its pedagogical development for examination purposes. Apart from the somewhat dated textbook translation in English the results of these collective efforts have only been available in Norwegian. The present book therefore sets out to up-date, modify and extend the course materials in accordance with these experiences, particularly on the basis of what I have learned in teaching it both in Norwegian and English for 15 years, especially including non-native English speakers from many countries.

One great asset of Næss' theory is that it is based on the factual use and misuse of language. Since it is thus less formal than empirical in nature, the theory is necessarily subject to modification and development in the light of experience. I have discovered a number of serious difficulties with certain key standpoints of Næss when applied to the usage and misuse of English. Applied to Norwegian of the more culturally-standardised sort current at universities and similar institutions, its weaknesses are not so evident. Unlike the Norwegian language, on which Næss' textbook is based, English tends to be less conventional and often more metaphorical than formal, being a world language of several major variants (British, American, Australasian etc.) and many dialects, styles and sub-languages with a wide variety of users. This has led me to make fundamental changes in the conceptual framework and to some key ideas of Næss. Inclarities and repetitions of concepts have been eliminated by a complete re-ordering (of definitions and principles stated by Næss) under seven main principles, including some not covered by Næss. Nonetheless I draw heavily on Næss' work in Chapters 5,7 & 9 while Chapters 1,2 & 5 could not have been written were it not for the proceeding hypothesis of reasonable interpretation (see 'Communication and Argument' Chapter 1). My re-ordering has also been designed on pedagogical grounds, sometimes relying on the collective experience of my colleagues but largely upon my own teaching results. The overall change of orientation in the theory is also partly due to advances in the theory of understanding in the Continental tradition (hermeneutics), not least to the ever-present influence of Wittgenstein's later works. This has been done with the minimum of academic-technical references, as the requirements of those unacquainted with philosophy have been given full priority.

In the second section (Principles of Reason - Traditional Logic) elementary fundaments of logic are put forward in a theoretical and terminological framework consistent with the first 'semantics' section. The principles are well-known from traditional and modern logic from Aristotle to Russell. Though symbolic or mathematical logic has subsumed the role of traditional logic, there are many benefits from studying logical though in the older context, which trains in the recognition and avoidance of many kinds of logical and semantic fallacy. Since no fully standardised terminology exists in this area, I have chosen to stay in the mainstream of established terminological variants and as close to common English usage as this allows. Further, this section is written as a natural extension of section one (to which it occasionally refers back) with examples and gradual exercises again provided to focus on the sort of practical reasoning and argumentation required in critical thinking both within and outside the academic sphere. The value of the discipline of traditional logic - prior to the simplification and universalisation made by Russell and Whitehead - was the basic training it gave in logical thinking altogether it provided, only part of which training is required for the understanding of mathematical logic.

The method of surveys of arguments for and against an issue (Chapter 5) is basically that of Næss' Communication and Argument. This method of ordering and analysing arguments for and against broad issues is a valuable one which Professor Arne Næss developed and which played a central role in higher education in Norway for several decades. Some important changes in this method were due to the work of the Philosophy Teachers' Association of Oslo University, others I have made in the interests of teaching economy (avoidance of traditional but redundant materials).

Throughout these sections the examples and exercises are based on materials used in lectures and set for examinations by me. Though a really thorough treatment of the subjects referred to would sometimes require particular knowledge of them, they are presented in a manner where any person interested in and reasonably informed about general issues and events in the contemporary world should be able to understand them satisfactorily. Views which are relevant to life and real situations will probably always be controversial, often highly so. In my view the discussion of politics can no more be excluded from education than the subject of education can be excluded from politics. To a large extent the same applies to scientific pursuits. It is on this conviction that the examples are chosen and argued without laying claim to the correctness of the actual views under discussion but only to the methods of expressing and interpreting them.

Above all the intention of this book is to provide the instruments of independent critical thinking, avoiding academic or other forms of doctrine so that everyone may use them according to their own views and interests.

In the third section (Principles of Understanding and Theory of Science), the preceding semantic and logical themes are brought within a wider frame of reference. The principles apply to the interpretation of the meaning of whole texts, whether scientific, literary or general and are drawn from the hermeneutical tradition from Schleiermacher, Dilthey, Heidegger, Gadamer, Betti and Ricoeur. The later work of Wittgenstein is again important in the conception of this section.

Firstly, a general introduction to hermeneutical theory interpretation of texts, relying mainly on the canons of Betti, is given. Subsequently a brief introduction to hermeneutical philosophy as theory of understanding in general is given, the main representative being Heidegger, whose views on understanding are briefly forwarded.

Theory of scientific generalisation and explanation is the subject of the second half of the third section.The chief themes included here are induction, hypothetico-deductive method, the status of theory and the problems of causality versus voluntarism.


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