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Hardcover | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780262181990 | 380 pp. | 6 x 9 in | August 2000
Paperback | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780262681162 | 380 pp. | 6 x 9 in | August 2000
eBook | $22.00 X | ISBN: 9780262339131 | 380 pp. | July 2016

Oratio Obliqua, Oratio Recta

An Essay on Metarepresentation


Among the entities that can be mentally or linguistically represented are mental and linguistic representations themselves. That is, we can think and talk about speech and thought. This phenomenon is known as metarepresentation. An example is "Authors believe that people read books."

In this book François Recanati discusses the structure of metarepresentation from a variety of perspectives. According to him, metarepresentations have a dual structure: their content includes the content of the object-representation (people reading books) as well as the "meta" part (the authors' belief). Rejecting the view that the object representation is mentioned rather than used, Recanati claims that since metarepresentations carry the content of the object representation, they must be about whatever the object representation is about. Metarepresentations are fundamentally transparent because they work by simulating the representation they are about.

Topics covered in this wide-ranging work include the analysis of belief reports and talk about fiction, world shifting, opacity and substitutivity, quotation, the relation between direct and indirect discourse, context shifting, semantic pretense, and deference in language and thought.


“"Recanati's book offers a distinctive and original perspective on central problems in the philosophy of language."”
Robert Stalnaker, Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, MIT
“"Recanati's scholarship is sound, and the territory he charts here is fresh and challenging. This is an important contribution to the semantics of context-shifting."”
James Pustejovsky, Department of computer Science and Volan Center for Complex Systems, Brandeis University
“"This is a terrific book. recanati brings some new ideas and principles to a field that already seemed to have too many ideas and principles. But then he manages to put them all together. His approach isn't to slash through the Gordian knot at the center of the topic of attitude reports, but to untie it. One great virtue of the book is its originality. Another is Recanati's devotion to explaining clearly and honestly the arguments and considerations that lead him to this theoretical decisions. A great book for a seminar not only for the arguments but for the model of clear and detailed thought it provides."”
John Perry, Department of Philosophy, Stanford University