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"Philosophy of Education"

2015 year, number 6


B. V. Saprygin
Novosibirsk State Pedagogical University, 28, Viluiskaya St., Novosibirsk, Russia, 630126
Keywords: антиментализм, семантика, значение слова, образцы деятельности, философия языка, Витгенштейн, Патнем, anti-mentalism, semantics, meaning of a word, activity patterns, philosophy of language, Wittgenstein, Putnam


In dealing with modern linguistic semantics what draws attention is that the explanation of the meanings of language units is commonly made from the standpoint of intentionalism and mentalism. However, the explanation of some semantic phenomena is impossible from such a position. For instance, it is evident when teaching such a tense-aspect verbal form as the English perfect. The difficulties involved in trying to explain the meaning of the grammatical form reflect the important philosophical issue of the meaning of a word. The difficulties with explaining the meaning of the grammatical category suggests that there must be shortcomings in the mentalist approach to the explanation of semantics. One of the drawbacks of traditional approaches to the perfect tense semantics is that the basic meaning of this grammatical category is not fully revealed. To reveal it, it seems appropriate to refer to the diachronically original meaning of this verbal form it used to have before the grammaticalization of this initially syntactic possessive construction. An analysis of the semantic evolution of the perfect gives the impression that the functioning of this grammatical form is accomplished not entirely in line with the mental semantics that is usually attributed to it. In this regard, attention is drawn to the semantic approach to explaining the meaning of a word that is found in the works of proponents of analytic philosophy. The situation with the English perfect resembles what these authors say about non-mentalist assigning of meanings to words. Contemporary English speakers use the perfect in accordance with non-mental activity patterns they learn in the course of social practice, which to some extent reflect the meaning of the initial possessive structure the modern perfect developed from. At the same time, a mental meaning in the mind of a person apparently does not fully reflect the «objective» meaning of this grammatical category. The above considerations have implications for the philosophy of mind and language. Even if we are not willing to completely abandon the mentalist views, we still have to agree that mechanisms that can provisionally be called behaviorist or functionalist play a significant role in human activity.