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Philosophy of Language

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An Essay on Infinite Naming

Homer recounts how, trapped inside a monster’s cave, with nothing but his wits to call upon, Ulysses once saved himself by twisting his name. He called himself Outis: “No One,” or “Non-One,” “No Man,” or “Non-Man.” The ploy was a success. He blinded his barbaric host and eluded him, becoming anonymous, for a while, even as he bore a name.

The Dynamic Interpretation of Tense and Aspect

Alice ter Meulen integrates current research in natural language semantics, with detailed analyses of English discourse, and logical tools from a variety of sources into an information theory that provides the foundation for computational systems to reason about change and the flow of time.The topic of temporal meaning in texts has received considerable attention in recent years from scholars in linguistics, logical semantics, cognitive science, and artificial intelligence.

The Theory of Generalized Conversational Implicature

When we speak, we mean more than we say. In this book Stephen C. Levinson explains some general processes that underlie presumptions in communication. This is the first extended discussion of preferred interpretation in language understanding, integrating much of the best research in linguistic pragmatics from the last two decades. Levinson outlines a theory of presumptive meanings, or preferred interpretations, governing the use of language, building on the idea of implicature developed by the philosopher H.P. Grice.

Essays on Mental Representation

Over the past two decades, Ray Jackendoff has persistently tackled difficult issues in the theory of mind and related theories of cognitive processing. Chief among his contributions is a formal theory that elaborates the nature of language and its relationship to a broad set of other domains.

The Classics Explained

Many beginning students in philosophy of language find themselves grappling with dense and difficult texts not easily understood by someone new to the field. This book offers an introduction to philosophy of language by explaining ten classic, often anthologized, texts.

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."

On the Phenomenology of Language

In this book, Andrew Inkpin considers the disclosive function of language—what language does in revealing or disclosing the world. His approach to this question is a phenomenological one, centering on the need to accord with the various experiences speakers can have of language. With this aim in mind, he develops a phenomenological conception of language with important implications for both the philosophy of language and recent work in the embodied-embedded-enactive-extended (4e) tradition of cognitive science.

In this book Arianna Betti argues that we have no good reason to accept facts in our catalog of the world, at least as they are described by the two major metaphysical theories of facts.

Word Learning and the Embodied Mind

Ostension is bodily movement that manifests our engagement with things, whether we wish it to or not. Gestures, glances, facial expressions: all betray our interest in something. Ostension enables our first word learning, providing infants with a prelinguistic way to grasp the meaning of words. Ostension is philosophically puzzling; it cuts across domains seemingly unbridgeable—public–private, inner–outer, mind–body. In this book, Chad Engelland offers a philosophical investigation of ostension and its role in word learning by infants.

Willard Van Orman Quine begins this influential work by declaring, "Language is a social art. In acquiring it we have to depend entirely on intersubjectively available cues as to what to say and when." As Patricia Smith Churchland notes in her foreword to this new edition, with Word and Object Quine challenged the tradition of conceptual analysis as a way of advancing knowledge. The book signaled twentieth-century philosophy's turn away from metaphysics and what Churchland calls the "phony precision" of conceptual analysis.

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