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Naming and Necessity. [In: Semantics of Natural Language. Edited by Donald Davidson and Gilbert Harman].


Dordrecht, (1972). The entire volume offered here. 8vo. Orig. full blue cloth w. gilt lettering to spine. Very minor wear to extremities. Orig. blue and white printed dust-jacket in excellent condition w. only very minor bumping to a few corners. Two single very small brown spots. Internally nice and clean, w. marginal annotations, in light pencil only, to parts of "Naming and Necessity" and w. an inlaid leaf w. cont. notes to the same. A crease to pasted down front endpaper. An excellent, nice and clean copy of this thick book, which is difficult to find in good condition. Pp. (251) - 355. [Entire volume: X, 769, (3) pp.] ¶ The rare first printing of Kripke's seminal main work, which restructured philosophy of language.

The work is based on three lectures from 1970, which constitute an attack on Fregean and Russellian theories of reference with respect to proper names. It was originally published, as it is here, in Davidson and Harman's "Semantics of Natural Language", and it only appeared in the second edition, which is the first separate edition, eight years later, in 1980. The first printing of this groundbreaking work is difficult to come by in good condition, and Kripke's works in general are rare. Many of them remain unpublished and are only known in privately circulated manuscripts.

The American philosopher Saul A. Kripke (born 1940) is an exceedingly important logician and philosopher of language and one of the most powerful and influential thinkers of analytic and Anglo-American philosophy. He is considered the greatest living philosopher and perhaps the greatest since Wittgenstein. In 2001 he was awarded the Schock Prize in Logic and Philosophy, which is considered the philosopical equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

His main work, "Naming and Necessity," is doubtlessly among the most influential books of philosophy published within the last 50 or hundred years.

Before the publication of Kripke's "Naming and Necessity" analytic philosophy was moving in the direction of linguistic idealism, which propounded the theory that man is trapped in language and that language is not "tuned" to the world. Almost on his own, practically only aided by the publication of his "Naming and Necessity", Kripke changed this entire direction of philosophy and, according to most logicians, brought the philosophy of language back on track.

In 1980, when the second edition of this most influential work appeared, "London Review of Books" write the following about the influence of the first edition: "When these lectures were first published eight years ago, they stood analytic philosophy on its ear. Everybody was either furious, or exhilarated, or thoroughly perplexed. No one was indifferent." And it is true, there can be no doubt about the impact that this book made on the world of philosophy of language and logic.

Kripke's work leads an attack on descriptivist theories of proper names that brings it a status comparable to that of the main works of Wittgenstein, Russell and Frege. It is also these three giants of philosophy that he criticizes, attributing to each of them variants of descriptivist theories that he then rejects. These descriptivist theories have that in common that they claim that names of individuals and properties function like definite descriptions. They are either synonymous with descriptions, or they get their reference by being associated with a description or a bunch of descriptions that an object satisfies uniquely. Kripke disproves this theory, claiming that it goes against our modal intuitions. The validity of our modal intuitions, again, are proven by the hugely influential notion of "possible worlds", which is traditionally used to systematize the semantics of modal statements. As opposed to definite descriptions, names rigidly refer to their referents, and they do so in every possible world in which the referent exists. Kripke here also establishes his "causal theory" of reference, according to which names refer to their referents by being appropriately causally connected to them. Thus, Kripke provides numerous examples that renders descriptivism implausible as a theory of how names get their reference determined at the same time as he provides the solution through his causal theory of reference, stating firmly that the meaning of a name is simply the object that it refers to.

This work provides several groundbreaking theories for the fields of philosophy of logic and language, which it has seminally come to change. The work almost single-handedly changed the fate that phiilosophy stood to fall with within the analytic tradition, -that it was nothing more than the analysis of language. As such, it now ranks as one of the most important works of 20th century philosophy. It is even, by some, regarded as one of the most important works of philosophy ever, and it is difficult to overestimate the importance of this seminal work.

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