Most people, including philosophers, tend to classify human motives as falling into one of two categories: the egoistic or the altruistic, the self-interested or the moral. According to Susan Wolf, however, much of what motivates us does not comfortably fit into this scheme. Often we act neither for our own sake nor out of duty or an impersonal concern for the world. Rather, we act out of love for objects that we rightly perceive as worthy of love--and it is these (...) actions that give meaning to our lives. Wolf makes a compelling case that, along with happiness and morality, this kind of meaningfulness constitutes a distinctive dimension of a good life. Written in a lively and engaging style, and full of provocative examples, Meaning in Life and Why It Matters is a profound and original reflection on a subject of permanent human concern. (shrink)
In _The Meaning of the Body_, Mark Johnson continues his pioneering work on the exciting connections between cognitive science, language, and meaning first begun in the classic _Metaphors We Live By_. Johnson uses recent research into infant psychology to show how the body generates meaning even before self-consciousness has fully developed. From there he turns to cognitive neuroscience to further explore the bodily origins of meaning, thought, and language and examines the many dimensions of meaning—including (...) images, qualities, emotions, and metaphors—that are all rooted in the body’s physical encounters with the world. Drawing on the psychology of art and pragmatist philosophy, Johnson argues that all of these aspects of meaning-making are fundamentally aesthetic. He concludes that the arts are the culmination of human attempts to find meaning and that studying the aesthetic dimensions of our experience is crucial to unlocking meaning's bodily sources. Throughout, Johnson puts forth a bold new conception of the mind rooted in the understanding that philosophy will matter to nonphilosophers only if it is built on a visceral connection to the world. “Mark Johnson demonstrates that the aesthetic and emotional aspects of meaning are fundamental—central to conceptual meaning and reason, and that the arts show meaning-making in its fullest realization. If you were raised with the idea that art and emotion were external to ideas and reason, you must read this book. It grounds philosophy in our most visceral experience.”—George Lakoff, author of _Moral Politics_. (shrink)
The profound changes in personality, mood, and other features of the self that neural interventions can induce can be disconcerting to patients, their families, and caregivers. In the neuroethical debate, these concerns are often addressed in the context of possible threats to the narrative self. In this paper, I argue that it is necessary to consider a dimension of impacts on the narrative self which has so far been neglected: neural interventions can lead to a loss of meaning of (...) actions, feelings, beliefs, and other intentional elements of our self-narratives. To uphold the coherence of the self-narrative, the changes induced by neural interventions need to be accounted for through explanations in intentional or biochemical terms. However, only an explanation including intentional states delivers the content to directly ascribe personal meaning, i.e., subjective value to events. Neural interventions can deprive events of meaning because they may favor a predominantly biochemical account. A loss of meaning is not inherently negative but it can be problematic, particularly if events are affected one was not prepared or willing to have stripped of meaning. The paper further examines what it is about neural interventions that impacts meaning by analyzing different methods. To which degree the pull towards a biochemical view occurs depends on the characteristics of the neural intervention. By comparing Deep Brain Stimulation, Prozac, Ritalin, psychedelics, and psychotherapy, the paper identifies some main factors: the rate of change, the transparency of the causal chain, the involvement of the patient, and the presence of an acute phenomenological experience. (shrink)
First published in 1978, this reissue presents a seminal philosophical work by professor Putnam, in which he puts forward a conception of knowledge which makes ethics, practical knowledge and non-mathematic parts of the social sciences just as much parts of 'knowledge' as the sciences themselves. He also rejects the idea that knowledge can be demarcated from non-knowledge by the fact that the former alone adheres to 'the scientific method'. The first part of the book consists of Professor Putnam's John Locke (...) lectures, delivered at the University of Oxford in 1976, offering a detailed examination of a 'physicalist' theory of reference against a background of the works of Tarski, Carnap, Popper, Hempel and Kant. The analysis then extends to notions of truth, the character of linguistic enquiry and social scientific enquiry in general, interconnecting with the great metaphysical problem of realism, the nature of language and reference, and the character of ourselves. (shrink)
Mark Richard presents an original theory of meaning, as the collection of assumptions speakers make in using it and expect their hearers to recognize as being made. Meaning is spread across a population, inherited by each new generation of speakers from the last, and evolving through the interactions of speakers with their environment.
To develop this theory, Karl Löwith—beginning with the more accessible philosophies of history in the nineteenth and eighteenth centuries and working back to the Bible—analyzes the writings of outstanding historians both in antiquity ...
This book radically simplifies Montague Semantics and generalizes the theory by basing it on a partial higher order logic. The resulting theory is a synthesis of Montague Semantics and Situation Semantics. In the late sixties Richard Montague developed the revolutionary idea that we can understand the concept of meaning in ordinary languages much in the same way as we understand the semantics of logical languages. Unfortunately, however, he formalized his idea in an unnecessarily complex way - two outstanding researchers (...) in the field even compared his work to a `Rube Goldberg machine.' Muskens' work does away with such unnecessary complexities, obtains a streamlined version of the theory, shows how partialising the theory automatically provides us with the most central concepts of Situation Semantics, and offers a simple logical treatment of propositional attitude verbs, perception verbs and proper names. (shrink)
An e-book devoted to 13 critical discussions of Thaddeus Metz's book "Meaning in Life: An Analytic Study", with a lengthy reply from the author. -/- Preface Masahiro Morioka i -/- Précis of Meaning in Life: An Analytic Study Thaddeus Metz ii-vi -/- Source and Bearer: Metz on the Pure Part-Life View of Meaning Hasko von Kriegstein 1-18 -/- Fundamentality and Extradimensional Final Value David Matheson 19-32 -/- Meaningful and More Meaningful: A Modest Measure Peter Baumann 33-49 -/- (...) Is Meaning in Life Comparable?: From the Viewpoint of ‘The Heart of Meaning in Life’ Masahiro Morioka 50-65 -/- Agreement and Sympathy: On Metz’s Meaning in Life Sho Yamaguchi 66-89 -/- Metz’s Quest for the Holy Grail James Tartaglia 90-111 -/- Meaning without Ego Christopher Ketcham 112-133 -/- Death and the Meaning of Life: A Critical Study of Metz’s Meaning in Life Fumitake Yoshizawa 134-149 -/- Metz’ Incoherence Objection: Some Epistemological Considerations Nicholas Waghorn 150-168 -/- Meaning in Consequences Mark Wells 169-179 -/- Defending the Purpose Theory of Meaning in Life Jason Poettcker 180-207 -/- Review of Thaddeus Metz’s Meaning in Life Minao Kukita 208-214 -/- A Psychological Model to Determine Meaning in Life and Meaning of Life Yu Urata 215-227 -/- Assessing Lives, Giving Supernaturalism Its Due, and Capturing Naturalism: Reply to 13 Critics of Meaning in Life Thaddeus Metz 228-278 . (shrink)
The Meaning of Life and the Great Philosophers reveals how great philosophers of the past sought to answer the question of the meaning of life. This edited collection includes thirty-five chapters which each focus on a major figure, from Confucius to Rorty, and that imaginatively engage with the topic from their perspective. This volume also contains a Postscript on the historical origins and original significance of the phrase 'the meaning of life'.
Does human life have meaning? Ever since Darwin, there has been great skepticism about whether a "meaning of life" was possible outside of religious belief. Is it possible to find meaning in human life? Philosopher of science Michael Ruse examines the question of meaning in life within Darwinian views of human nature. He argues that meaning in the Darwinian age can be found if we turn to a kind of Darwinian existentialism, seeing our evolved human (...) nature as the source of all meaning, both in the intellectual and social worlds. (shrink)
Jordan Peterson has attracted a high level of attention. Controversies may bring people into contact with Peterson's work, but ideas are arguably what keep them there. Focusing on those ideas, this book explores Peterson’s answers to perennial questions. What is common to all humans, regardless of their background? Is complete knowledge ever possible? What would constitute a meaningful life? Why have humans evolved the capacity for intelligence? Should one treat others as individuals or as members of a group? Is a (...) single person powerless in the face of evil? What is the relation between speech, thought, and action? Why have religious myths and narratives figured so prominently in human history? Are the hierarchies we find in society good or bad? After devoting a chapter to each of these questions, Champagne unites the different strands of Peterson’s thinking in a handy summary. Champagne then spends the remaining third of the book articulating his main critical concerns. He argues that while building on tradition is inevitable and indeed desirable, Peterson’s individualist project is hindered by the non-revisable character and self-sacrificial content of religious belief. This engaging multidisciplinary study is ideal for those who know little about Peterson’s views, or for those who are familiar but want to see more clearly how Peterson’s views hang together. The debates spearheaded by Peterson are in full swing, so Myth, Meaning, and Antifragile Individualism should become a reference point for any serious engagement with Peterson’s ideas. (shrink)
This book aids in the rehabilitation of the wrongfully deprecated work of William Parry, and is the only full-length investigation into Parry-type propositional logics. A central tenet of the monograph is that the sheer diversity of the contexts in which the mereological analogy emerges – its effervescence with respect to fields ranging from metaphysics to computer programming – provides compelling evidence that the study of logics of analytic implication can be instrumental in identifying connections between topics that would otherwise remain (...) hidden. More concretely, the book identifies and discusses a host of cases in which analytic implication can play an important role in revealing distinct problems to be facets of a larger, cross-disciplinary problem. It introduces an element of constancy and cohesion that has previously been absent in a regrettably fractured field, shoring up those who are sympathetic to the worth of mereological analogy. Moreover, it generates new interest in the field by illustrating a wide range of interesting features present in such logics – and highlighting these features to appeal to researchers in many fields. (shrink)
Translation from German to English by Daniel Fidel Ferrer -/- What Does it Mean to Orient Oneself in Thinking? -/- German title: "Was heißt: sich im Denken orientieren?" -/- Published: October 1786, Königsberg in Prussia, Germany. By Immanuel Kant (Born in 1724 and died in 1804) -/- Translation into English by Daniel Fidel Ferrer (March, 17, 2014). The day of Holi in India in 2014. -/- From 1774 to about 1800, there were three intense philosophical and theological controversies underway in (...) Germany, namely: Fragments Controversy, the Pantheism Controversy, and the Atheism Controversy. Kant’s essay translated here is Kant’s respond to the Pantheism Controversy. During this period (1770-1800), there was the Sturm und Drang (Storm and Urge (stress)) movement with thinkers like Johann Hamann, Johann Herder, Friedrich Schiller, and Johann Goethe; who were against the cultural movement of the Enlightenment (Aufklärung). Kant was on the side of Enlightenment (see his Answer the Question: What is Enlightenment? 1784). -/- What Does it Mean to Orient Oneself in Thinking? / By Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). [Was heißt: sich im Denken orientieren? English]. (shrink)
For a century at least, parties have been central to the study of politics. Yet their typical conceptual reduction to a network of power-seeking elites has left many to wonder why parties were ever thought crucial to democracy. This book seeks to retrieve a richer conception of partisanship, drawing on modern political thought and extending it in the light of contemporary democratic theory and practice. Looking beyond the party as organization, the book develops an original account of what it is (...) to be a partisan. It examines the ideas, orientations, obligations, and practices constitutive of partisanship properly understood, and how these intersect with the core features of democratic life. Such an account serves to underline in distinctive fashion why democracy needs its partisans, and puts in relief some of the key trends of contemporary politics. (shrink)
The concepts of meaning and mental content resist naturalistic analysis. This is because they are normative: they depend on ideas of how things ought to be. Allan Gibbard offers an expressivist explanation of these 'oughts': he borrows devices from metaethics to illuminate deep problems at the heart of the philosophy of language and thought.
The revival of Aristotelian virtue ethics can be seen as a response to the modern problem of disenchantment, that is, the perceived loss of meaning in modernity. However, in Virtue and Meaning, David McPherson contends that the dominant approach still embraces an overly disenchanted view. In a wide-ranging discussion, McPherson argues for a more fully re-enchanted perspective that gives better recognition to the meanings by which we live and after which we seek, and to the fact that human (...) beings are the meaning-seeking animal. In doing so, he defends distinctive accounts of the relationship between virtue and happiness, other-regarding demands, and the significance of linking neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics with a view of the meaning of life and a spiritual life where contemplation has a central role. This book will be valuable for philosophers and other readers who are interested in virtue ethics and the perennial question of the meaning of life. (shrink)
The first aim of this paper is to remind the reader of a very original theory of meaning which in many aspects has not been surpassed by subsequent theories. The theory in question is Kazimierz Ajdukiewicz’s Directival Theory of Meaning. In the first section I present a version of this theory which, I trust, retains the gist of the original but loses its outdated language. In the second section I analyze some problematic consequences of the directival theory and (...) show how they can be addressed. The second aim of this paper is exploiting some of the similarities between the directival theory and later theories of meaning. In the third section I argue that using the directival theory as an interpretative tool enables us to create explications of some of the notoriously vague notions which contemporary theories of meaning employ. (shrink)
This article discusses recent theories of the meaning of generics. The discussion is centred on how the theories differ in their approach to addressing the primary difficulty in providing a theory of generic meaning: The notoriously complex ways in which the truth conditions of generics seem to vary. In addition, the article summarizes considerations for and against each theory.
Presenting a landmark in linguistics and cognitive science, Ray Jackendoff proposes a new holistic theory of the relation between the sounds, structure, and meaning of language and their relation to mind and brain. Foundations of Language exhibits the most fundamental new thinking in linguistics since Noam Chomsky's Aspects of the Theory of Syntax in 1965—yet is readable, stylish, and accessible to a wide readership. Along the way it provides new insights on the evolution of language, thought, and communication.
This book offers a semantic and metasemantic inquiry into the representation of meaning in linguistic interaction. Kasia Jaszczolt offers a new contextualist take on the semantics/pragmatics boundary, and argues that this is the only promising stance on meaning. This approach allows the selection of the cognitively plausible object of enquiry - namely the intended, primary meaning - and its adoption as a unit of semantic analysis despite the varying provenance of the contributing information. The analysis transcends the (...) said/implicated distinction and heavily relies on the dynamic construction of meaning in discourse, using truth conditions as a tool and at the same time conforming to pragmatic compositionality. Meaning in Linguistic Interaction builds on the author's earlier work on Default Semantics, and adds new arguments in favour of radical contextualism, particularly with regard to the role of salience, the dynamic nature of the unit that forms a basis of the interpretation process, and the flexibility of word meaning. It is illustrated with examples from a variety of languages and offers formal representations of meaning in the metalanguage of Default Semantics. (shrink)
As humans, we want to live meaningfully, yet we are often driven by impulse. In Religion and the Meaning of Life, Williams investigates this paradox – one with profound implications. Delving into felt realities pertinent to meaning, such as boredom, trauma, suicide, denial of death, and indifference, Williams describes ways to acquire meaning and potential obstacles to its acquisition. This book is unique in its willingness to transcend a more secular stance and explore how one's belief in (...) God may be relevant to life's meaning. Religion and the Meaning of Life's interdisciplinary approach makes it useful to philosophers, religious studies scholars, psychologists, students, and general readers alike. The insights from this book have profound real-world applications – they can transform how readers search for meaning and, consequently, how readers see and exist in the world. (shrink)
The primary units of meaning in the use and comprehension of language are speech acts of the type called illocutionary acts. In Foundations of Illocutionary Logic John Searle and Daniel Vanderveken presented the first formalized logic of a general theory of speech acts. In Meaning and Speech Acts Daniel Vanderveken further develops the logic of speech acts and the logic of propositions to construct a general semantic theory of natural languages. Volume I, Principles of Language Use, explains the (...) general principles that connect meaning, reason, thought and speech acts in the semantic structure of language. It presupposes no detailed knowledge of logical formalism, and will be accessible to a large readership of students and scholars from philosophy, lingustics, cognitive psychology and computer science. Volume II, Formal Semantics of Success and Satisfaction uses the resources of philosophical and mathematical logics to develop a formalization of the laws of the semantic theory advanced in Volume I. It will be of interest to theoretical linguists and those involved in mathematical logic and artificial intelligence. (shrink)
In this book, Scott Soames argues that the revolution in the study of language and mind that has taken place since the late nineteenth century must be rethought. The central insight in the reigning tradition is that propositions are representational. To know the meaning of a sentence or the content of a belief requires knowing which things it represents as being which ways, and therefore knowing what the world must be like if it is to conform to how the (...) sentence or belief represents it. These are truth conditions of the sentence or belief. But meanings and representational contents are not truth conditions, and there is more to propositions than representational content. In addition to imposing conditions the world must satisfy if it is to be true, a proposition may also impose conditions on minds that entertain it. The study of mind and language cannot advance further without a conception of propositions that allows them to have contents of both of these sorts. Soames provides it. He does so by arguing that propositions are repeatable, purely representational cognitive acts or operations that represent the world as being a certain way, while requiring minds that perform them to satisfy certain cognitive conditions. Because they have these two types of content—one facing the world and one facing the mind—pairs of propositions can be representationally identical but cognitively distinct. Using this breakthrough, Soames offers new solutions to several of the most perplexing problems in the philosophy of language and mind. (shrink)
‘Theory’ is one of the most important words in the lexicon of contemporary sociology. Yet, their ubiquity notwithstanding, it is quite unclear what sociologists mean by the words ‘theory,’ ‘theoretical,’ and ‘theorize.’ I argue that confusions about the meaning of ‘theory’ have brought about undesirable consequences, including conceptual muddles and even downright miscommunication. In this paper I tackle two questions: what does ‘theory’ mean in the sociological language?; and what ought ‘theory’ to mean in the sociological language? I proceed (...) in five stages. First, I explain why one should ask a semantic question about ‘theory.’ Second, I lexicographically identify seven different senses of the word, which I distinguish by means of subscripts. Third, I show some difficulties that the current lack of semantic clarity has led sociology to. Fourth, I articulate the question, ‘what ought “theory” to mean?,’ which I dub the ‘semantic predicament’, and I consider what one can learn about it from the theory literature. Fifth, I recommend a semantic therapy‘ for sociology, and advance two arguments about SP: the principle of practical reason—SP is to a large extent a political issue, which should be addressed with the help of political mechanisms; and the principle of ontological and epistemological pluralism—the solution to SP should not be too ontologically and epistemologically demanding. (shrink)
In this new book, the author of the classic Truth presents an original theory of meaning, demonstrates its richness, and defends it against all contenders. He surveys the diversity of twentieth-century philosophical insights into meaning and shows that his theory can reconcile these with a common-sense view of meaning as derived from use. Meaning and its companion volume Truth (now published in a revised edition) together demystify two central issues in philosophy and offer a controversial but (...) compelling view of the relations between language, thought, and reality. (shrink)
What is it for marks or sounds to have meaning, and what is it for someone to mean something in producing them? Answering these and related questions, Schiffer explores communication, speech acts, convention, and the meaning of linguistic items in this reissue of a seminal work on the foundations of meaning. A new introduction takes account of recent developments and places his theory in a broader context.
Many of the leading accounts of what makes a life meaningful are goal-based theories, according to which it is the pursuit of some specific goal (such as love for things that are worthy of love) that gives meaning to our lives. In this chapter I consider how these goal-based theories of meaning in life interact with the two main theories of the nature of time that have been defended in the recent metaphysics literature, namely, The Dynamic Theory of (...) Time and The Static Theory of Time. I argue that The Dynamic Theory fits well with goal-based theories of meaning in life, but The Static Theory does not. Then I close with some thoughts about what a Static Theorist should make of this conclusion. (shrink)
This book reimagines the compositional semantics of comparative sentences using words such as more, as, too, and others. The book's central thesis entails a rejection of a fundamental assumption of degree semantic frameworks: that gradable adjectives like tall lexicalize functions from individuals to degrees, i.e., measure functions. I argue that comparative expressions in English themselves introduce “measure functions”; this is the case whether that morphology targets adjectives, as in *taller* or *more intelligent*; nouns, as in *more coffee*, *more coffees*; verbs, (...) such as *run more*, *jump more*; or expressions of other categories. Furthermore, she suggests that expressions that comfortably and meaningfully appear in the comparative form should be distinguished from those that do not in terms of a general notion of "measurability": a measurable predicate has a domain of application with non-trivial structure. This notion unifies the independently motivated distinctions between, for example, gradable and non-gradable adjectives, mass and count nouns, singular and plural noun phrases, and telic and atelic verb phrases. Based on careful examination of the distribution of dimensions for comparison within the class of measurable predicates, I tie the selection of measure functions to the specific nature and structure of the domain entities targeted for measurement. The book ultimately explores how, precisely, we should understand semantic theories that invoke the "nature" of domain entities: does the theory depend for its explanation on features of metaphysical reality, or something else? Such questions are especially pertinent in light of a growing body of research in cognitive science exploring the understanding and acquisition of comparative sentences. (shrink)
_Welfare, Meaning, and Worth_ argues that there is more to what makes a life worth living than welfare, and that a good life does not consist of what is merely good for the one who lives it. Smuts defends an objective list theory that states that the notion of worth captures matters of importance for which no plausible theory of welfare can account. He puts forth that lives worth living are net high in various objective goods, including pleasure, (...) class='Hi'>meaning, knowledge, and loving relationships. The first part of the book presents a theory of worth, a mental statist account of welfare, and an objectivist theory of meaning. The second part explores the implications for moral theory, the popularity of painful art, and the viability of pessimism about the human condition. This book offers an original exploration of worth as a combination of welfare and meaning that will be of interest to philosophers and ethicists who work on issues in well-being and positive psychology. (shrink)
The word 'ought' is one of the core normative terms, but it is also a modal word. In this book Matthew Chrisman develops a careful account of the semantics of 'ought' as a modal operator, and uses this to motivate a novel inferentialist account of why ought-sentences have the meaning that they have. This is a metanormative account that agrees with traditional descriptivist theories in metaethics that specifying the truth-conditions of normative sentences is a central part of the explanation (...) of their meaning. But Chrisman argues that this leaves important metasemantic questions about what it is in virtue of which ought-sentences have the meanings that they have unanswered. His appeal to inferentialism aims to provide a viable anti-descriptivist but also anti-expressivist answer to these questions. (shrink)
This book argues for a view in which processes of dialogue and interaction are taken to be foundational to reasoning, logic, and meaning. This is both a continuation, and a substantial modification, of an inferentialist approach to logic. As such, the book not only provides a critical introduction to the inferentialist view, but it also provides an argument that this shift in perspective has deep and foundational consequences for how we understand the nature of logic and its relationship with (...)meaning and reasoning. This has been upheld by several technical results, including, for example a novel approach to logical paradox and logical revision, and an account of the internal justification of logical rules. The book shows that inferentialism is greatly strengthened, such that it can answer the most stringent criticisms of the view. This leads to a view of logic that emphasizes the dynamics of reasoning, provides a novel account of the justification and normativity of logical rules, thus leading to a new, attractive approach to the foundations of logic. The book addresses readers interested in philosophy of language, philosophical and mathematical logic, theories of reasoning, and also those who actively engage in current debates involving, for example, logical revision, and the relationship between logic and reasoning, from advanced undergraduates, to professional philosophers, mathematicians, and linguists. (shrink)
The aim of this volume is to critically assess the philosophical importance of phenomenology as a method for studying the normativity of meaning and its transcendental conditions. Using the pioneering work of Steven Crowell as a springboard, phenomenologists from all over the world examine the promise of phenomenology for illuminating long-standing problems in epistemology, the philosophy of mind, action theory, the philosophy of religion, and moral psychology. The essays are unique in that they engage with the phenomenological tradition not (...) as a collection of authorities to whom we must defer, or a set of historical artifacts we must preserve, but rather as a community of interlocutors with views that bear on important issues in contemporary philosophy. -/- The book is divided into three thematic sections, each examining different clusters of issues aimed at moving the phenomenological project forward. The first section explores the connection between normativity and meaning, and asks us to rethink the relation between the factual realm and the categories of validity in terms of which things can show up as what they are. The second section examines the nature of the self that is capable of experiencing meaning. It includes essays on intentionality, agency, consciousness, naturalism, and moral normativity. The third section addresses questions of philosophical methodology, examining if and why phenomenology should have priority in the analysis of meaning. Finally, the book concludes with an afterword written by Steven Crowell. -/- Normativity, Meaning, and the Promise of Phenomenology will be a key resource for students and scholars interested in the phenomenological tradition, the transcendental tradition from Kant to Davidson, and existentialism. Additionally, its forward-looking focus yields crucial insights into pressing philosophical problems that will appeal to scholars working across all areas of the discipline. (shrink)
Our knowledge about the world is often expressed by generic sentences, yet their meanings are far from clear. This book provides answers to central problems concerning generics: what do they mean? Which factors affect their interpretation? How can one reason with generics? Cohen proposes that the meanings of generics are probability judgments, and shows how this view accounts for many of their puzzling properties, including lawlikeness. Generics are evaluated with respect to alternatives. Cohen argues that alternatives are induced by the (...) kind as well as by the predicated property, and thus provides a uniform account of the varied interpretations of generics. He studies the formal properties of alternatives and provides a compositional account of their derivation by focus and presupposition. Cohen uses his semantics of generics to provide a formal characterization of adequate default reasoning, and proves some desirable results of this formalism. (shrink)
Recently, psychologists have started to distinguish between three kinds of experience of meaning. Drawing on philosophical as well as empirical literature, I argue that the experience of one’s own life making sense involves a sense of narrative justification, so that not just any kind of intelligibility suffices; the experience of purpose includes enthusiastic future-directed motivation against the background of a global sort of hopefulness, or the resonance of what one does right now with one’s values; and finally, the experience (...) of significance consists primarily of feelings of pride and fulfilment, which construe our actions as making a positive difference to the world or as mattering to someone who matters to us. Mutually exclusive philosophical views of what makes our lives meaningful could all be simultaneously correct about the fittingness of these different kinds of experience. (shrink)
Metaphysics, Mathematics, and Meaning brings together Nathan Salmon's influential papers on topics in the metaphysics of existence, non-existence, and fiction; modality and its logic; strict identity, including personal identity; numbers and numerical quantifiers; the philosophical significance of Godel's Incompleteness theorems; and semantic content and designation. Including a previously unpublished essay and a helpful new introduction to orient the reader, the volume offers rich and varied sustenance for philosophers and logicians.
According to the dominant position among philosophers of language today, we can legitimately ascribe determinate contents to natural language sentences, independently of what the speaker actually means. This view contrasts with that held by ordinary language philosophers fifty years ago: according to them, speech acts, not sentences, are the primary bearers of content. François Recanati argues for the relevance of this controversy to the current debate about semantics and pragmatics. Is 'what is said' determined by linguistic conventions, or is it (...) an aspect of 'speaker's meaning'? Do we need pragmatics to fix truth-conditions? What is 'literal meaning'? To what extent is semantic composition a creative process? How pervasive is context-sensitivity? Recanati provides an original and insightful defence of 'contextualism', and offers an informed survey of the spectrum of positions held by linguists and philosophers working at the semantics/pragmatics interface. (shrink)
In his Posterior Analytics Aristotle confronted a problem that threatened his vision of scientific knowledge as an axiomatic system: if scientific knowledge is demonstrative in character, and if the axioms of a science cannot themselves be demonstrated, then the most basic of all scientific principles will remain unknown. In the famous concluding chapter of this work (II 19), he claimed to solve this problem by distinguishing two kinds of knowledge: we cannot have epistêmê of the first principles, but we can (...) have nous of them. This ‘solution’ has struck many students of his thought as hopelessly ad hoc and unpersuasive. And nowhere is Aristotle less persuasive than when he appeals to a faculty of intuition or a priori insight which arrives on the scene precisely when it is most needed. I defend Aristotle’s account by showing how nous is not properly characterized as a faculty of intuition which operates independently of sense experience. Rather, nous is a kind of knowledge that is available to us whenever our mind advances from the perception of particular individuals to grasp the relevant universal concept or general principle. (shrink)
Is life meaningless? Does life have enough meaning to make it feel worthwhile? If we think our lives lack meaning, what can we do about it? Finding Meaning in an Imperfect World answers these and other difficult questions, while confronting head-on famous, recurrent theories that insist on life's meaninglessness. Landau shows us how to single out what is meaningful, explains why we sometimes fail to recognize meaning, and suggests ways in which we can resensitize ourselves to (...) it. (shrink)
Already hailed as a masterpiece, Foundations of Language offers a brilliant overhaul of the last thirty-five years of research in generative linguistics and related fields. "Few books really deserve the cliché 'this should be read by every researcher in the field'," writes Steven Pinker, author of The Language Instinct, "but Ray Jackendoff's Foundations of Language does." Foundations of Language offers a radically new understanding of how language, the brain, and perception intermesh. The book renews the promise of early generative linguistics: (...) that language can be a valuable entrée into understanding the human mind and brain. The approach is remarkably interdisciplinary. Behind its innovations is Jackendoff's fundamental proposal that the creativity of language derives from multiple parallel generative systems linked by interface components. This shift in basic architecture makes possible a radical reconception of mental grammar and how it is learned. As a consequence, Jackendoff is able to reintegrate linguistics with philosophy of mind, cognitive and developmental psychology, evolutionary biology, neuroscience, and computational linguistics. Among the major topics treated are language processing, the relation of language to perception, the innateness of language, and the evolution of the language capacity, as well as more standard issues in linguistic theory such as the roles of syntax and the lexicon. In addition, Jackendoff offers a sophisticated theory of semantics that incorporates insights from philosophy of language, logic and formal semantics, lexical semantics of various stripes, cognitive grammar, psycholinguistic and neurolinguistic approaches, and the author's own conceptual semantics. (shrink)
The objective of the present work is to develop a theory of meaning based on the method of transcendental phenomenology. The key idea of the project is to explain the constitution of the meaning by means of the analyses of the intentionality. We have investigated different intentional acts which are functioning in the expression and in constructing the meanings. In this regard we have studied, first, the act of the primordial expression, in which a content of an intuition (...) is raised to the realm of the ideal, and then the acts of the categorial synthesis, in which further meanings are constituted in the absence of their proper intuition. -/- We have investigated the effects of the phenomenological theory of meaning to the conception of pure logic. Dialogical semantics is shown to be an adequate framework, from the phenomenological point of view, to interpret logical reasoning and to explain the meaning of the logical constants as well. -/- We have also discussed the meanings of some logical connectives, and their formalizations, using our phenomenologico-dialogical method. In particular, the meaning explanations of negation(s), strict implication and necessity are given in a way which is not model theoretic nor proof theoretic, but based on the transcendental intentionality as manifested in the course of the dialogue. (shrink)
In this important study, Michael Luntley offers a compelling reading of Wittgenstein’s account of meaning and intentionality, based upon a unifying theme in the early and later philosophies. A compelling reading of Wittgenstein’s account of meaning and intentionality. Offers an important and original reading of Wittgenstein’s key texts. Based upon a unifying theme in Wittgenstein’s early and later philosophies.