A Conversation with Wittgenstein


Thinking about Martin Stokhof as a philosopher and colleague, his formal analysis (together with Jeroen Groenendijk) of questions and question answering is the first thing that comes to mind. This work is part of a fruitful tradition that has recently spawned inquisitive semantics, and the focus on question answering in dynamic epistemic logic. The theme is still very much alive at ILLC today. Next, I am reminded of the dynamic turn in natural language semantics, of the way he and Jeroen Groenendijk criticized Hans Kamp’s ideas about discourse representation, and how this led to the invention of dynamic predicate logic. Later it became clear that dynamic predicate logic can be viewed as the action part of quantified dynamic logic, invented much earlier by David Harel. This led to a connection, a semantic parallel, between the analysis of programming and the analysis of natural language. Thinking about Martin as a philosopher still longer, it is impossible to further postpone the thought of Ludwig Wittgenstein. This is the connection that I am least familiar with, so this is what I will write about, in the hope that developing my thought in writing will create a somewhat better understanding



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Jan Van Eijck
University of Amsterdam

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