Word and Object

Word and Object

Word and Object

Word and Object

Synopsis

Language consists of dispositions, socially instilled, to respond observably to socially observable stimuli. Such is the point of view from which a noted philosopher and logician examines the notion of meaning and the linguistic mechanisms of objective reference. In the course of the discussion, Professor Quine pinpoints the difficulties involved in translation, brings to light the anomalies and conflicts implicit in our language's referential apparatus, clarifies semantic problems connected with the imputation of existence, and marshals reasons for admitting or repudiating each of various categories of supposed objects.

Excerpt

Language is a social art. In acquiring it we have to depend entirely on intersubjectively available cues as to what to say and when. Hence there is no justification for collating linguistic meanings, unless in terms of men's dispositions to respond overtly to socially observable stimulations. An effect of recognizing this limitation is that the enterprise of translation is found to be involved in a certain systematic indeterminacy; and this is the main theme of Chapter II.

The indeterminacy of translation invests even the question what objects to construe a term as true of. Studies of the semantics of reference consequently turn out to make sense only when directed upon substantially our language, from within. But we do remain free to reflect, thus parochially, on the development and structure of our own referential apparatus; and this I do in ensuing chapters. In so doing one encounters various anomalies and conflicts that are implicit in this apparatus (Chapter IV), and is moved to adopt remedies in the spirit of modern logic (Chapters V and VI). Clarity also is perhaps gained on what we do when we impute existence, and what considerations may best guide such decisions; thus Chapter VII.

My six Gavin David Young Lectures in Philosophy at the University of Adelaide, June 1959, will have consisted of portions of this book. Similarly for various of my lectures at the University of Tokyo in July and August. An abridgment of the last chapter figured as the Howison Lecture in Philosophy at the University of California in Berkeley, May 1959, and parts of Chapters II through . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.