Crítica, Revista Hispanoamericana de Filosofía, Volume 21, number 62, agosto 1989
Tolerância e interpretação
Marcelo Dascal
Universidade de Tel Aviv

Abstract: An argument in favor of tolerance is developed here, based on a critique of the 'naive semantic' model of language understanding. This model, as illustrated both by Popper and Mao Tse-Tung, presumes the objectivity and context-independence of the understanding of discourse (texts included). On this view, criticism of 'wrong' views is a purely logical matter, having to do with the detection of inconsistencies, lack of evidence, or other logical insufficiencies of the criticized views. Against this, it is argued that the semantic rules of language are always insufficient to determine the "meaning" of a text or other piece of discourse. To be sure, semantics plays a role in detennining that meaning, but ii musl be always complemented by pragmatic interpretation. The latter, unlike semantics, is regulated not by algorithmic, but by heuristic roles. Consequently, its results are always tentative and subject to revision. The "meaning" of a text or discourse, therefore, is not an undisputable objective "given", but something that depends on the interpretive activity and assumptions of those who read the text and seek to criticize it, ln spite of its heuristic character, pragmatic interpretation is not aleatory or entirely subjetive, since it is grounded on interpretive norms and traditions, Nevertheless, the acknowledgment of its role and nature provides an additional argument in favor of the tolerance of apparently 'wrong' views. This argument differs from MilI's arguments in that it relies explicitly on the fallibility of language understanding; whereas Mill relies on the fallibility of judgment.

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