Truth, Language and History

Truth, Language and History

Truth, Language and History

Truth, Language and History

Synopsis

Truth, Language, and History is the much-anticipated final volume of Donald Davidson's philosophical writings. In four groups of essays, Davidson continues to explore the themes that occupied him for more than fifty years: the relations between language and the world; speaker intention and linguistic meaning; language and mind; mind and body; mind and world; mind and other minds. He asks: what is the role of the concept of truth in these explorations? And, can a scientific world view make room for human thought without reducing it to something material and mechanistic? Including a new introduction by his widow, Marcia Cavell, this volume completes Donald Davidson's colossal intellectual legacy.

Excerpt

When my husband died, very unexpectedly, on 30 August 2003, volume 4, Problems of Rationality, and the present volume 5, Truth, Language, and History, of his Collected Essays had been contracted for by Oxford University Press. Both volumes were virtually ready to go except for the Introductions. in producing them on his behalf I have followed his example in volumes 1-3, which was to write something brief by way of introducing the collection as a whole, then one or two paragraphs on each essay in turn. I may have made errors of emphasis, even of content; but I hope Donald would feel that I am not too far off the mark—near enough, at least, to be of some help to his readers. As for the essays themselves, they are, but for a few corrected typos, exactly as they appeared in the various publications that are cited.

In the four groups of essays that comprise this volume Davidson continues to explore the themes that occupied him for more than fifty years: the relations between language and the world, speaker intention and linguistic meaning, language and mind, mind and body, mind and world, mind and other minds. He asks: What is the role of the concept of truth in these explorations? And: Can a scientific world view make room for human thought without reducing it to something material and mechanistic?

Davidson's underlying picture, which can be seen in many of these essays, is that we are acquainted directly with the world, not indirectly via some intermediary such as sense-data, representations, or language itself; that thought emerges in the first place through interpersonal communication in a shared material world, and continues to develop as we engage each other in dialogue; and that language depends on communication, not vice versa. This is the triangulating situation—two creatures communicating about

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