In Cognitive Pragmatics, Bruno Bara offers a theory of human communication
that is both formalized through logic and empirically validated through
experimental data and clinical studies. Bara argues that communication is a
cooperative activity in which two or more agents together consciously and
intentionally construct the meaning of their interaction. In true
communication (which Bara distinguishes from the mere transmission of
information), all the actors must share a set of mental states.
Bara takes a cognitive perspective, investigating communication not from
the viewpoint of an external observer (as is the practice in linguistics
and the philosophy of language) but from within the mind of the individual.
Bara examines communicative interaction through the notion of behavior and
dialogue games, which structure both the generation and the comprehension
of the communication act (either language or gesture). He describes both
standard communication and nonstandard communication (which includes
deception, irony, and "as-if" statements). Failures are analyzed in detail,
with possible solutions explained. Bara investigates communicative
competence in both evolutionary and developmental terms, tracing its
emergence from hominids to Homo sapiens and defining the stages of its
development in humans from birth to adulthood. He correlates his theory
with the neurosciences, and explains the decay of communication that occurs
both with different types of brain injury and with Alzheimer's disease.
Throughout, Bara offers supporting data from the literature and his own
research. The innovative theoretical framework outlined by Bara will be of
interest not only to cognitive scientists and neuroscientists but also to
anthropologists, linguists, and developmental psychologists.