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Philosophical Profiles in the Theory of Communication

With a Foreword by Richard J. Bernstein and an Afterword by John Durham Peters

Edited By Jason Hannan

Philosophical Profiles in the Theory of Communication is the first book to draw systematic attention to the theme of communication in twentieth-century academic philosophy. It covers a broad range of philosophical perspectives on communication, including those from analytic philosophy, pragmatism, critical theory, phenomenology, hermeneutics, feminism, psychoanalysis, systems theory, and more. What emerges is a vital, long-neglected story about the theme of communication in late modern academic philosophy. Each chapter features a «profile» of a particular philosophical figure, with a brief intellectual biography, an overview of that figure’s contribution to communication theory, and a critical assessment of the significance of that contribution. The clear and accessible organization of the volume makes it ideal for courses in both philosophy and communication studies.


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7 Donald Davidson: The Interpretational Constitution of Meaning ELI DRESNER 181


7 Donald Davidson The Interpretational Constitution of Meaning ELI DRESNER ________________________________________ Donald H. Davidson was born on March 6, 1917, in Springfield, Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard in 1939, and during the Second World War served in the American Navy in the Mediterranean. After the war he returned to Harvard and completed a dissertation in classical philosophy in 1949. Davidson then taught at Queen’s College in New York (1949–51), Stanford (1951–67), Princeton (1967–70), Rockefeller (1970–76), the University of Chicago (1976–81), and the University of California at Berkeley, where he held a position from 1981 until his death in 2003. Davidson had a variety of interests beyond his work in philosophy: He was an accomplished pianist, had a pilot’s license, and during his many travels around the world engaged in mountain climbing and surfing. He was married three times; his third marriage was to the philosopher Marcia Cavell. Among the various sources of influence on Davidson’s thought the most notable is Willard V. Quine, whom Davidson described as his mentor and who was Davidson’s lifelong philosophical conversant and friend. It was through his early acquaintance with Quine at Harvard that Davidson became interested in the analytic tradition and the philosophy of language in particu- lar. Furthermore, Davidson commented on Quine’s Word and Object before its publication. As will be elaborated below, the ideas presented in this book had a substantial effect on the formation of Davidson’s own ideas about lan- guage. 182 | Eli Dresner During his work...

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