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Understanding Truth 1st Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Soames inherits from Richard Cartwright the somewhat idiosyncratic (these days) view that the primary bearers of truth are propositions rather than sentences. This is a thesis that is only defended rather glibly in the book's early chapters but it informs most of what he says later. There is a long digression about two-thirds of the way through in which he tries to solve the philosophical problem of vagueness - there is remarkably little evidence of engagement with the literature already out there on this topic, and I'm less than clear why this stuff is even in the book at all. Soames' style is consistently clear but also rather turgid - he insists on taking the reader through every single step of every single argument that he makes, however basic or obvious some of them might seem, and one can sometimes lose sight of the forest for the trees as a result of this.
Still, a little patience with the book is well-rewarded, and by the end I found myself wondering why something like this hadn't in fact been written much earlier by anyone else.
Soames claims he has written the book with the general audience in philosophy in mind, but it's a daunting task to get through. One gets the sense that Soames wants you to wrestle with his words in addition to his ideas. And in all fairness, some of these concepts are very obtuse, even in the realm of philosophy.
Style and explication aside, Soames does illuminate the notion of truth and the role it plays in ordinary language and more formalized languages. He has a keen mind and a talent for reconstructing and then demolishing philosophical arguments. I recommend this book for anyone who wants to learn more about what contemporary philosophers think about truth, but you better have more than an elementary background in the philosophy of language (and some symbolic logic wouldn't hurt either) if you want to dive into this book and understand it without hurting your brain.
and able to illuminate a demanding subject. Because I was impressed by him, i read "Understanding Truth." The book duplicates his teaching style -- he's taken difficult subject matter and arranged and explained it in a coherent and interesting manner. The book is probably not for the casual reader, however. Soames demands a relatively intelligent reader with an interest in analytic philosophy. For that individual, this is one of the few books on the subject that is accessible to a non-philospher.