Language

CONCEPT OF EXPLANATION

The purpose of an argument is to help the questioner who doesn’t understand something. Thus, the concept of explanation, like that of argument, is based on dialogue in the sense that it involves a conversational exchange between two participants. In the case of the offering of an explanation by a proponent to respondent, a certain function should be performed. If the explanation is to be helpful, it should help the respondent to come to understand something that he did not understand something before. A useful explanation should make the thing suspicion clearer for the respondent by expressing it in terms he is familiar with or already understands. In a dialogue, a request for an explanation takes the form of a question that asks for help with understanding something.

There are several different kinds of questions that characteristically function as request for explanation. One is the ‘how’ question. For example, if I don’t understand how a certain computer works, I may ask someone. “How does it work?” and in so doing, I would be asking for an explanation of how it works. I would not be asking the person to prove that it works or to use argument to show me that it works. Instead, I would be asking for help with understanding how it works. It is also often the case that ‘why’ questions are used as prompt for explanations for example, I might ask you “why does the sky appear blue from earth’s surface?” and then you might give me an explanation. You might say, for example: the light rays from the sun are scattered by particular in the atmosphere in a certain way that activates the blue part of the spectrum when the light complicated and could involve quite a number of inferences from some propositions to other propositions that are connected to them.

The purpose of the explaining is not to give a reason for the other party to accept this proposition as true. The purpose of offering an explanation is to take this proposition that the explainee does not understand and clarify it, relating it to other propositions that the explainee is familiar with and can comprehend. The goal of an explanation is not to convince or persuade the party that a particular proposition is true but to express the queried proposition in some more familiar terms or relate it to another set of propositions that can be put together so that it is more familiar or comprehensible to him.

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