Meaning, Understanding, and Practice: Philosophical Essays

Meaning, Understanding, and Practice: Philosophical Essays

Meaning, Understanding, and Practice: Philosophical Essays

Meaning, Understanding, and Practice: Philosophical Essays

Synopsis

Meaning, Understanding, and Practice is a selection of the most notable essays of a leading contemporary philosopher on a set of central topics in the subject. Barry Stroud offers penetrating studies of meaning, understanding, necessity, and the intentionality of thought. One question runningthrough many of the essays is how much can be expected from a philosophical account of a person's understanding the meaning of something, and whether it can succeed without implying that the person understands many other things as well. Five of the essays focus on the philosophy of Wittgenstein, andat least that many others work with ideas derived from Wittgenstein. In a helpful introduction Stroud explains how the essays are related to one another and how some of his ideas about these questions developed over the years.

Excerpt

Collected here are thirteen essays published in almost as many different journals and anthologies over many years, more than half of them since 1990. I bring them together in the hope of making them more easily available in one place and providing each with whatever new light might be cast upon it by its juxtaposition with the others. They are arranged chronologically, and deal with different but related topics, with several themes or concerns reappearing throughout. Parts of some of the essays overlap with parts of others, in a few cases quite closely, but I have left them all as they originally appeared, hoping that each still contributes enough to stand on its own. I thank the original publishers for permission to reprint them here.

Five of the essays are exercises in the interpretation of the philosophy of Wittgenstein; at least that many others put ideas found in Wittgenstein to work in understanding philosophical issues of meaning, understanding, necessity, and the intentionality of thought.

Some of the earlier papers touch on questions about the nature and source of necessary truth, something I worked on for years in the 1960s and early 1970s. I thought I had come to see how and why none of the accounts of necessity then available could be right, but I had nothing better of my own to put in their place. Part of my interest had been in a priori knowledge, and on that question I think I did make progress. in papers presented in a number of places in the late 1960s I argued against the Kantian view that the necessary truth of something we know is a 'sure criterion' of its being known a priori, and even against the view that we have any a priori knowledge at all. None of that was published, at least in print, while necessity remained unexplained. Advance of a different kind began when I found it increasingly difficult even to formulate a clear question about necessary truth which I could see I had been trying to answer.

One way of putting it had been in terms of the 'source' of necessity. It seems obvious enough that some facts about us and the

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