What Is Meaning?

Princeton University Press
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The tradition descending from Frege and Russell has typically treated theories of meaning either as theories of meanings (propositions expressed), or as theories of truth conditions. However, propositions of the classical sort don't exist, and truth conditions can't provide all the information required by a theory of meaning. In this book, one of the world's leading philosophers of language offers a way out of this dilemma.

Traditionally conceived, propositions are denizens of a "third realm" beyond mind and matter, "grasped" by mysterious Platonic intuition. As conceived here, they are cognitive-event types in which agents predicate properties and relations of things--in using language, in perception, and in nonlinguistic thought. Because of this, one's acquaintance with, and knowledge of, propositions is acquaintance with, and knowledge of, events of one's cognitive life. This view also solves the problem of "the unity of the proposition" by explaining how propositions can be genuinely representational, and therefore bearers of truth. The problem, in the traditional conception, is that sentences, utterances, and mental states are representational because of the relations they bear to inherently representational Platonic complexes of universals and particulars. Since we have no way of understanding how such structures can be representational, independent of interpretations placed on them by agents, the problem is unsolvable when so conceived. However, when propositions are taken to be cognitive-event types, the order of explanation is reversed and a natural solution emerges. Propositions are representational because they are constitutively related to inherently representational cognitive acts.


Strikingly original, What Is Meaning? is a major advance.

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About the author

Scott Soames is professor of philosophy at the University of Southern California. His books include Philosophy of Language, Philosophical Essays, Reference and Description, and Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century (all Princeton).
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Aug 9, 2010
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Pages
144
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ISBN
9781400833948
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Language
English
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Genres
Language Arts & Disciplines / Linguistics / General
Language Arts & Disciplines / Linguistics / Semantics
Philosophy / History & Surveys / Modern
Philosophy / Language
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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MORE THAN 15 YEARS OF WORK TO PREPARE THIS UNIQUE DICTIONARY


People often say they haven’t yet found a good dictionary to interpret their dreams, signs and symbols. The Source Code brings a whole new vision to the subject and will surely become one of the most important reference books in this field. It will be published simultaneously in English and French and found in bookstores and malls in many countries all over the world, including the UK and the USA. It’s written by Kaya, one of today’s most eminent specialists in dream interpretation, assisted by over 100 of his students, who are doctors, psychologists, nurses, therapists, linguists, teachers and specialists in many fields, in many different countries. The idea of uniting so many people for this extraordinary project came from the workshops Kaya has been giving on dream and symbol interpretation for over 12 years now. During these workshops, when Kaya asked students in groups of 4 to deepen and define symbols, he realized how advanced they were, and so he asked them to help him finish his work. Hence his publishing house, UCM set up work teams to carry out the necessary research so Kaya could then write the final metaphysical syntheses and definitions.


A book presenting the + and – of each symbol


The Dictionary, Dreams-Signs-Symbols, The Source Code, helps us discover, in great depth, over 870 pages, the most common words in dreams and signs. Each word is analyzed in detail with its physical and metaphysical characteristics, and a synthesis defining the + and – of each symbol is included. This provides the reader with an analytical, understandable vision of the various different possible interpretations. Just one word may occupy 2 or 3 explanatory pages, which makes this Dictionary very complete from all points of view. Readers will also find a detailed introduction explaining dream mechanics as well as the multiple angles and subtleties of dream and sign interpretation.


Extract from the Preface by Kasara (Kaya’s daughter)


The day we receive The Source Code, our life changes completely… Shortly after my birth, my father’s life completely changed. From one day to the next, he started having 10-50 dreams every night. He studied dreams in his dream. He could no longer tell the difference between dream and reality. To everyone’s surprise, he quit everything. He became the village fool, the incomprehensible hermit, and all to deepen his research and understanding of dreams. Everyone either laughed at him or didn’t understand. I lived through this change alongside him – those early years when we feel other people’s fear and mistrust because we aren’t like everyone else. The greatest philosophers and scholars of the past often lived as visionaries before being really understood, because they traced a new path, one which called into question our way of thinking and understanding of the world we live in.


My father went through many ordeals to offer us this unique book. You have no idea how psychologically difficult it was. I sometimes consoled him, hugging him, telling him it was going to be ok; everything was going to be all right. I have so much admiration and love for my father. He sacrificed his career, everything a man could wish for, in order to follow his inner guidance, the wind of change and transformation that took form in his dreams. Above all, he had the courage to turn the page, to completely change his life in order to get to know himself better, to better understand the Source Code and to transmit it to us today. Now, with this revolution of Knowledge for the science of our conscience, the great changes he undertook take on their full meaning. Surpassing all of the previous research into the meaning of dreams, Kaya opens the path to our autonomy of conscience; he helps us understand the multi-dimensions, the metaphysics that we all have within ourselves. He may have been ridiculed and denigrated as a man, but this whole path was all worthwhile to help people all over the world who are on a spiritual path today, seeking to make sense of their lives; therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists and doctors now use The Source Code to help patients better understand how their conscience works. 

When Moral Politics was first published two decades ago, it redefined how Americans think and talk about politics through the lens of cognitive political psychology. Today, George Lakoff’s classic text has become all the more relevant, as liberals and conservatives have come to hold even more vigorously opposed views of the world, with the underlying assumptions of their respective worldviews at the level of basic morality. Even more so than when Lakoff wrote, liberals and conservatives simply have very different, deeply held beliefs about what is right and wrong.

Lakoff reveals radically different but remarkably consistent conceptions of morality on both the left and right. Moral worldviews, like most deep ways of understanding the world, are unconscious—part of our “hard-wired” brain circuitry. When confronted with facts that don’t fit our moral worldview, our brains work automatically and unconsciously to ignore or reject these facts, and it takes extraordinary openness and awareness of this phenomenon to pay critical attention to the vast number of facts we are presented with each day. For this new edition, Lakoff has added a new preface and afterword, extending his observations to major ideological conflicts since the book's original publication, from the Affordable Care Act to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the recent financial crisis, and the effects of global warming. One might have hoped such massive changes would bring people together, but the reverse has actually happened; the divide between liberals and conservatives has become stronger and more virulent.

To have any hope of bringing mutual respect to the current social and political divide, we need to clearly understand the problem and make it part of our contemporary public discourse. Moral Politics offers a much-needed wake-up call to both the left and the right.
This collection brings together the best contemporary philosophical work in the area of intersection between philosophy of language and the law. Some of the contributors are philosophers of language who are interested in applying advances in philosophy of language to legal issues, and some of the participants are philosophers of law who are interested in applying insights and theories from philosophy of language to their work on the nature of law and legal interpretation. By making this body of recent work available in a single volume, readers will gain both a general overview of the various interactions between language and law, and also detailed analyses of particular areas in which this interaction is manifest. The contributions to this volume are grouped under three main general areas: The first area concerns a critical assessment, in light of recent advances in philosophy of language, of the foundational role of language in understanding the nature of law itself. The second main area concerns a number of ways in which an understanding of language can resolve some of the issues prevalent in legal interpretation, such as the various ways in which semantic content can differ from law's assertive content; the contribution of presuppositions and pragmatic implicatures in understanding what the law conveys; the role of vagueness in legal language, for example. The third general topic concerns the role of language in the context of particular legal doctrines and legal solutions to practical problems, such as the legal definitions of inchoate crimes, the legal definition of torture, or the contractual doctrines concerning default rules. Together, these three key issues cover a wide range of philosophical interests in law that can be elucidated by a better understanding of language and linguistic communication.
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