Language and Philosophical Problems

Language and Philosophical Problems

Language and Philosophical Problems

Language and Philosophical Problems


This work examines problems about mind, meaning and mathematics rooted in preconceptions of language. Philosophical claims made by theorists of meaning are shown to be connected with common views about certain mathematical ideas or methods.


This book consists of three parts. Each part is not a chapter in a systematic exposition, but is rather an essay which can be read independently. the three parts treat of common problems in different guises however, and in that way they complement one another. a theme common to all three is our tendency to be misled by certain prevalent views and preconceptions about language. Another aspect shared by the essays is that their way of dealing with the respective issues they treat is the same.

What I am presenting in this book is not only the results of philosophical investigations but also a way of thinking in approaching and resolving conceptual and philosophical problems, in particular problems that arise through the transgression of the limits of the use of various technical notions and methods. As is shown by many examples throughout the book, it turns out that more problems are of this kind than we are at first inclined to expect.

This common source of several, prima facie different, kinds of problems is concealed by some of the traditional ways in which philosophical problems have been classified, and by the received ways of subdividing the subject matter of philosophy. in order to show this, a good number of issues from different areas of philosophy have been treated, including issues from the philosophy of language, mind, logic, and mathematics, even though this has meant that some of them could only be discussed briefly.

I have benefited from many sources in the work which has resulted in the thoughts presented here, not least from the writings of the philosophers whose ideas I subject to criticism. But my one most important source of inspiration has been the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein. It is perhaps correct to say that most of what I have written consists of applications or elaborations of thoughts that can

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