22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on September 23, 2011
Published in 2010 Scott Soames' `Philosophy of Language' is an instalment in Princeton Foundations of Contemporary Philosophy series. Soames is a well known philosopher with numerous publications in the philosophy of language.
In this brief text (less than 200 pages) Soames focuses on two subjects that have occupied many thinkers in the analytic tradition over the last century, the search for a comprehensive theoretical framework for the study of language and the analysis of linguistic notions such as, reference, truth, meaning, and so on. The discussion takes place within the mathematic-logical strand of the philosophy of language, the tradition that runs through; Frege, Russell, Tarski, Carnap, Quinn, Kripke, and their successors. As opposed to the less formal strand that tracks through Latter Wittgenstein, Austin, Searle et al.
An accomplished philosopher in his own right Soames is particularly adept at summarizing and assessing the work of others. It is important to note that while this is an excellent piece of work; the writing is terse and dense, aimed very much at an expert audience. Despite being familiar with the subject matter the book caused me to go back and reread chunks of Frege, Russell and Tarski (by no means a bad thing). Soames' 2-Volume work `Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century' is also helpful in providing background information and context.
Overall, this is an excellent book by an excellent philosopher. I recommend it for advanced students of the philosophy of language. For readers seeking a broader introductory-level piece Searle's short essay `What is Language' available on internet may be worth a look.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2013
Scott Soames in this text discusses various logics and associated philosophies of language with their appearance. The text is an introductory text to not just these languages and logics but some of the problems that guide analytic philosophy of language. The text covers influential work by David K. Lewis, Donald Davidson, Saul Kripke and others. The text also contains examples of the languages and basic intros on how to read them. It is a good book for someone who is interested in the field but unsure of where to begin because of its depth. It portrays the issues in philosophy of language as intermeshed with other issues which makes it accessible to an audience not familiar with philosophy of language and its problems. It would even be accessible for a person who is not familiar with philosophy itself because of the way it intermixes issues and is so problem focused. Knowledge of first order and second order logic would greatly aid in helping to appreciating this text because larger issues being focused on rather than local issues associated with the languages appear.