Quine's word and object
Western philosophy since Descartes has been marked by certain seminal books whose concern is the nature and scope of human knowledge. After Descartes Meditations, works by Locke, Berkeley, Hume and Kant are perhaps the most familiar and enduringly influential examples. Quine’s Word and Object (1960) does not conspicuously announce itself as a successor to these, but that is very much what it is. And after Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations, it is amongst the most likely of the philosophical fruits of the 20th century to attain something like the prestige of those earlier works (setting aside the century’s great achievements in pure logic and immediately related areas). Yet unlike so many of those earlier works, Quine’s book has the rare virtue in philosophy that it is possible, for readers here and now, to entertain seriously the possibility that its principal claims are literally true.
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