Language and Reality: The Philosophy of Language and the Principles of Symbolism

Language and Reality: The Philosophy of Language and the Principles of Symbolism

Language and Reality: The Philosophy of Language and the Principles of Symbolism

Language and Reality: The Philosophy of Language and the Principles of Symbolism

Excerpt

The title of this book, Language and Reality, may seem somewhat "ludicrous for a grave philosophical work," as did Campbell Philosophy of Rhetoric to Dugald Stewart, but if so it is solely because the philosophical problems implicit in the title are not fully recognized. These problems are not only of perennial interest and importance in the history of philosophy, but, for reasons which will later appear, are of a special exigency at the present time. It is not too much to say that, for the time being at least, they bring to a head the main issues of philosophic thought.

In the epilogue to an earlier book, The Intelligible World, I mentioned a third part, already written, but which was left out in the publication of the work. One of the chapters, entitled The Language of Metaphysics, considered in detail the problems of the philosophy of language raised in various parts of the book. Again, in a paper in Contemporary American Philosophers, entitled Metaphysics and Value, I expressed the opinion that the basal problem of science and philosophy is the problem of a philosophy of language and symbolism, and stated that I hoped ultimately to contribute something towards the solution of this problem. It is out of these convictions that the present work has grown.

When first planned, the task seemed relatively limited and one that could be completed in a few years. In the meantime the situation was rapidly changing. The publication of Wittgenstein Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus in 1922 had initiated a movement which was making itself felt in the widest philosophical circles and generating new problems which had to be met. It is, perhaps, safe to say that Logical Positivism has passed its zenith and has modified its original positions to such an extent that its sensational character is greatly softened and its initial force largely spent. But it is equally certain that it has left a residuum of significant problems which constitutes a permanent element in the philosophy of the present. Perhaps the best way to introduce the present study is to relate it to that movement. The writer shares with those of this way of thinking the belief that problems of language are basal for science and philosophy. If philosophy is not solely a "critique . . .

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