The Varieties of Reference

The Varieties of Reference

The Varieties of Reference

The Varieties of Reference

Synopsis

Gareth Evans, one of the most brilliant philosophers of his generation, died in 1980 at the age of thirty-four. He had been working for many years on a book about reference, but did not complete it before his death. The work was edited for publication by John McDowell, who contributes a Preface.

Excerpt

Gareth Evans, who died, aged 34, in August 1980, had been working for years on a book about reference. But he was constantly rethinking both his ideas on the subject and his strategies of exposition; each successive draft is not so much a polishing of its predecessors as a first version of a substantially new work. In his last months he undertook an attempt to prepare his book for publication, and he managed to write or dictate new versions of the Introduction and chapters 1, 2, and (in part) 3. For the rest of the book he left drafts from various earlier dates (very occasionally only in note form); these were more or less heavily annotated, with indications of footnotes, intended additions, and criticisms of the material as it stood. In the case of chapter 7, and, to a lesser extent, chapter 6, the later material is more substantial: in the Trinity Term of 1980 Evans offered a course of graduate classes on self-identification and self-reference, and in his preparation for this he arrived at improved formulations of many of the arguments of those chapters, and some thoughts that were altogether new. It is clear that he intended a radical revision of those two chapters.

It would have been possible simply to transcribe Evans's words as they stood. But even with a quite extensive commentary, the result would have been very difficult reading, except perhaps for people already partly familiar with Evans's ideas through hearing his lectures. It seemed clear that the overriding aim of this publication should be to make his thoughts as accessible as possible, and that this aim would not be best served by an excessively reverent approach to the draft. Accordingly, where his intention seems clearly expressed in notes, I have worked them up into prose. Similarly, where there is a subsequent expression of dissatisfaction with the original draft, and amendment is possible without disruption to the flow of the argument, I have simply recast the material to reflect the later . . .

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