After tracing the recent decline in explicitly essentialistic theories, Hallett (Dean of the College of Philosophy and letters, St. Louis U.) critically surveys the essentialism still strongly operative in much philosophical reasoning, then ...
"The purpose of this book is to examine and explicate a definition given in Philosophical Investigations. The definition of the meaning of a word is that "the meaning of a word is its use in the language." Hallet understands this as a definition in the strict sense of the word. In Chapter I, the author look to the Tractatus for its treatment of the picture theory of meaning and the Bedeutung/Sinn distinction. The conclusion which he pulls from the early work (...) is that, for Wittgenstein, meaning was already in a proposition by way of the meaning of names. Yet, only in the use or application, i.e. in a proposition with sense is meaning revealed. Although the Tractatus is far from saying that meaning is use, certain guiding themes are elaborated and carried into later works; namely, the search for meaning, the impossibility of meaning outside use, and meaning as revealed by use. Chapter II, III, and especially IV bear the brunt of establishing Hallet's thesis that Wittgenstein presented a significant and sound definition. He begins by showing what Wittgenstein proved meaning not to be: meaning is not images, objects, mental referents, nor feelings. All of these theories have convincing confirmation in certain respects, yet analysis, i.e. observation of the actual working of language, shows each to be too narrow. In making his transition to the true definition, the author shows Wittgenstein elaborating theses that meaning is to be found in the system or context of language. These are elaborated only to be cast aside as were the previous suggestions. The pattern elicited from these examinations is that meaning is use and, hence, defined as such. To explicate the definition, Hallett presents and examines seven characteristics of use: complexity, regularity and utility, abstraction, openness, vagueness, variety, and family resemblances. The book concludes with a consideration of the major objections to Wittgenstein's definition."-The Review of Metaphysics. (shrink)
Charting a "middle way" between the extremes represented by Alvin Plantinga and Richard Swinburne, Garth Hallett explores the thesis that if belief in other minds is rational and true (as it surely is), so too is belief in God. He makes a strong case that when this parity claim is appropriately restricted to a single, sound other-minds belief, belief in God and belief in other minds do prove epistemically comparable. This result, and the distinctive path that leads to it, will (...) interest students and scholars in philosophy of religion and theology. (shrink)
Invisible Language: Its Incalcuable Significance for Philosophy affirms that a greater awareness of language, philosophy's universal medium, could have altered the history of philosophy beyond recognition. Striking a balance between in-depth studies and more over-arching discussions, Garth L. Hallet proves the greatness of the possibilities of philosophy conducted with fuller linguistic awareness.
This book provides a full treatment of an issue which is particularly pressing: when the claims of the nearest conflict with the claims of the neediest, as they constantly do, where should preference go? Professor Hallett focuses first on a specific, representative case, pitting the lesser need of a son against the greater need of starving strangers. He brings to bear on this single paradigm all the resources of theological and philosophical reflection - scriptures, patristic teaching, the Thomistic tradition, current (...) debates - and from this single example he sheds light on a wide range of comparable cases, both private and public. This distinctive strategy leads to distinctive and challenging results, and at the same time helps to clarify the traditional 'order of charity' and the celebrated 'preferential option for the poor'. (shrink)