Interpretation and Understanding

Our species has been hunting for meaning ever since we departed from our cousins in the evolutionary tree. We developed sophisticated forms of communication. Yet, as much as they can convey meaning and foster understanding, they can also hide meaning and prevent comprehension. Indeed, we can never be sure that a "yes" conveys assent or that a smile reveals pleasure. In order to ascertain what communicative behavior "means", we have to go through an elaborate cognitive process of interpretation. This book deals with how we achieve the daily miracle of understanding each other. Based on the author s contributions to pragmatics, the book articulates his perspective using the insights of linguistics, the philosophy of language and rhetoric, and confronting alternatives to it. Theory formation is shaped by application to fields of human activity such as legal practice, artificial intelligence, psychoanalysis, the media, literature, aesthetics, ethics and politics where interpretation and understanding are paramount. Using an accessible language, this is a book addressed to specialists as well as to anyone interested in interpreting understanding and understanding the potentialities and limits of interpretation.