Reference and Description: The Case against Two-Dimensionalism

Princeton University Press
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In this book, Scott Soames defends the revolution in philosophy led by Saul Kripke, Hilary Putnam, and David Kaplan against attack from those wishing to revive descriptivism in the philosophy of language, internalism in the philosophy of mind, and conceptualism in the foundations of modality. Soames explains how, in the last twenty-five years, this attack on the anti-descriptivist revolution has coalesced around a technical development called two-dimensional modal logic that seeks to reinterpret the Kripkean categories of the necessary aposteriori and the contingent apriori in ways that drain them of their far-reaching philosophical significance.

Arguing against this reinterpretation, Soames shows how the descriptivist revival has been aided by puzzles and problems ushered in by the anti-descriptivist revolution, as well as by certain errors and missteps in the anti-descriptivist classics themselves. Reference and Description sorts through all this, assesses and consolidates the genuine legacy of Kripke and Kaplan, and launches a thorough and devastating critique of the two-dimensionalist revival of descriptivism. Through it all, Soames attempts to provide the outlines of a lasting, nondescriptivist perspective on meaning, and a nonconceptualist understanding of modality.

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About the author

Scott Soames, formerly Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University, is now Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern California. He is the author of Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century, Volumes 1 and 2 (Princeton), Beyond Rigidity, and Understanding Truth.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Feb 9, 2009
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Pages
384
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ISBN
9781400826452
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / General
Philosophy / Mind & Body
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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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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST • This exquisite memoir by an idealistic young neurosurgeon asks What makes a life worth living? and makes a profound graduation gift—especially for aspiring doctors and nurses.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The New York Times Book Review • People • NPR • The Washington Post • Slate • Harper’s Bazaar • Esquire • Time Out New York • Publishers Weekly • BookPage

Finalist for the PEN Center USA Literary Award in Creative Nonfiction and the Books for a Better Life Award in Inspirational Memoir

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.

What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.

Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on this book, yet his words live on as a guide and a gift to us all. “I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything,” he wrote. “Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on.’” When Breath Becomes Air is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing death and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a brilliant writer who became both.

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The practice of hatha yoga, as we commonly know it, is but one of eight branches of the body of knowledge that is yoga. In fact, yoga is a sophisticated system of self-empowerment that is capable of harnessing and activating inner energies in such a way that your body and mind function at their optimal capacity. It is a means to create inner situations exactly the way you want them, turning you into the architect of your own joy.

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An in-depth history of the linguistic turn in analytic philosophy, from a leading philosopher of language

This is the second of five volumes of a definitive history of analytic philosophy from the invention of modern logic in 1879 to the end of the twentieth century. Scott Soames, a leading philosopher of language and historian of analytic philosophy, provides the fullest and most detailed account of the analytic tradition yet published, one that is unmatched in its chronological range, topics covered, and depth of treatment. Focusing on the major milestones and distinguishing them from detours, Soames gives a seminal account of where the analytic tradition has been and where it appears to be heading.

Volume 2 provides an intensive account of the new vision in analytical philosophy initiated by Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, its assimilation by the Vienna Circle of Moritz Schlick and Rudolf Carnap, and the subsequent flowering of logical empiricism. With this “linguistic turn,” philosophical analysis became philosophy itself, and the discipline’s stated aim was transformed from advancing philosophical theories to formalizing, systematizing, and unifying science. In addition to exploring the successes and failures of philosophers who pursued this vision, the book describes how the philosophically minded logicians Kurt Gödel, Alfred Tarski, Alonzo Church, and Alan Turing discovered the scope and limits of logic and developed the mathematical theory of computation that ushered in the digital era. The book’s account of this pivotal period closes with a searching examination of the struggle to preserve ethical normativity in a scientific age.

This is a major, wide-ranging history of analytic philosophy since 1900, told by one of the tradition's leading contemporary figures. The first volume takes the story from 1900 to mid-century. The second brings the history up to date.

As Scott Soames tells it, the story of analytic philosophy is one of great but uneven progress, with leading thinkers making important advances toward solving the tradition's core problems. Though no broad philosophical position ever achieved lasting dominance, Soames argues that two methodological developments have, over time, remade the philosophical landscape. These are (1) analytic philosophers' hard-won success in understanding, and distinguishing the notions of logical truth, a priori truth, and necessary truth, and (2) gradual acceptance of the idea that philosophical speculation must be grounded in sound prephilosophical thought. Though Soames views this history in a positive light, he also illustrates the difficulties, false starts, and disappointments endured along the way. As he engages with the work of his predecessors and contemporaries--from Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein to Donald Davidson and Saul Kripke--he seeks to highlight their accomplishments while also pinpointing their shortcomings, especially where their perspectives were limited by an incomplete grasp of matters that have now become clear.

Soames himself has been at the center of some of the tradition's most important debates, and throughout writes with exceptional ease about its often complex ideas. His gift for clear exposition makes the history as accessible to advanced undergraduates as it will be important to scholars. Despite its centrality to philosophy in the English-speaking world, the analytic tradition in philosophy has had very few synthetic histories. This will be the benchmark against which all future accounts will be measured.

This is a major, wide-ranging history of analytic philosophy since 1900, told by one of the tradition's leading contemporary figures. The first volume takes the story from 1900 to mid-century. The second brings the history up to date.

As Scott Soames tells it, the story of analytic philosophy is one of great but uneven progress, with leading thinkers making important advances toward solving the tradition's core problems. Though no broad philosophical position ever achieved lasting dominance, Soames argues that two methodological developments have, over time, remade the philosophical landscape. These are (1) analytic philosophers' hard-won success in understanding, and distinguishing the notions of logical truth, a priori truth, and necessary truth, and (2) gradual acceptance of the idea that philosophical speculation must be grounded in sound prephilosophical thought. Though Soames views this history in a positive light, he also illustrates the difficulties, false starts, and disappointments endured along the way. As he engages with the work of his predecessors and contemporaries--from Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein to Donald Davidson and Saul Kripke--he seeks to highlight their accomplishments while also pinpointing their shortcomings, especially where their perspectives were limited by an incomplete grasp of matters that have now become clear.

Soames himself has been at the center of some of the tradition's most important debates, and throughout writes with exceptional ease about its often complex ideas. His gift for clear exposition makes the history as accessible to advanced undergraduates as it will be important to scholars. Despite its centrality to philosophy in the English-speaking world, the analytic tradition in philosophy has had very few synthetic histories. This will be the benchmark against which all future accounts will be measured.

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