Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Word and Object (MIT Press) 0th Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Top Customer Reviews
The book's motivating question is how a word (or words) can refer to an object or be used to pick out an object. This might seem to be a narrow topic, but it leads Quine to discuss a large number of epistemological, logical, and metaphysical issues. Quine's conclusions in these areas were so novel and profound that decades later philosophers are still digesting them.
Was Quine right about everything? Surely not, but like all great philosophers, he made us look at the old issues in new ways and made us aware of problems which we hadn't known had existed. For this we can be profoundly grateful.
Willard Van Ormen Quine died 25 December 2000.
Much of the book is an exposition of his thesis of semantic indeterminacy as it is manifested in translation between languages, which thus appears as his indeterminacy of translation thesis sometimes called his "radical translation" thesis. In fact there is nothing radical about it; linguists have long known of such translation problems. As has long been said: traduttore,traditore. But Quine uses it to critique positivism, and it is essential to his pragmatism.
In the translation situation he portrays the field linguist in the same situation that the positivist Carnap postulates in "Meaning and Synonymy in Natural Language", where Carnap attempted to describe how the field linguist can ascertain a term's "intension" or meaning by identifying its extension or range of application from the observed behavior of native speakers of an unknown language. Carnap admitted that this determination of extension involves uncertainty and possible error due to vagueness, but he excused this uncertainty and risk of error, because it occurs even in the concepts used in empirical science. While this admission of extensional vagueness in science made the fact unproblematic for Carnap, it had just the opposite significance for Quine.
For Quine extensional vagueness is an inherent characteristic of language that he calls "referential inscrutability", and which he later calls "ontological relativity.Read more ›
He wrote in the Preface to this 1960 book, “Language is a social art. In acquiring it we have to depend entirely on intersubjectively available cues as to what to say and when. Hence there is no justification for collating linguistic meanings, unless in terms of men’s dispositions to respond overtly to socially observable stimulations. An effect or recognizing this limitation is that the enterprise of translation is found to be involved in a certain systematic indeterminacy… The indeterminacy of translation invests even the question what objects to construe a term as true of. Studies of the semantics of reference consequently turn out to make sense only when directed upon substantially our language, from within. But we do remain free to reflect, thus parochially, on the development and structure of our own referential apparatus…” (Pg. ix)
He points out, “We cannot strip away the conceptual trappings sentence by sentence and leave a description of the conceptual world, and man as a part of it, and thus find out what cues he would have of what goes on around him. Subtracting his cues from his world view, we get man’s net contribution to the difference. This difference marks the extent of man’s conceptual sovereignty---the domain within which he can revise theory while saving the data.” (Pg.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Quine tells a fascinating story about translation. His is not a lazy mind.
His assumption (or belief) that language is learned completely through experience is simply... Read more
In this incomparable and engaging book Quine takes up many of the questions he raised in "Two Dogmas of Empiricism" and in his other early papers. Read morePublished on December 29, 2002 by Jack Arnold