Hobbes on Language: Propositions, Truth, and Absurdity

In A. P. Martinich & Kinch Hoekstra (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Hobbes. Oxford University Press. pp. 57-72 (2016)
Authors
Stewart Duncan
University of Florida
Abstract
Language was central to Hobbes's understanding of human beings and their mental abilities, and criticism of other philosophers' uses of language became a favorite critical tool for him. This paper connects Hobbes's theories about language to his criticisms of others' language, examining Hobbes's theories of propositions and truth, and how they relate to his claims that various sorts of proposition are absurd. It considers whether Hobbes in fact means anything more by 'absurd' than 'false'. And it pays particular attention to Hobbes's categorization of causes of absurdity and of types of incoherent proposition, arguing that Hobbes's approach is only loosely related to later discussions of category mistakes.
Keywords Hobbes  language  proposition  absurdity  truth  category mistake
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