Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » January 2006 » Kripke profile in NYT

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01/30/2006: Kripke profile in NYT


With Karen off on her own blog, I guess I better start doing my fair share of the blogging here.

So, via Brian Leiter, here's an interesting profile of legendary philosopher Saul Kripke in the New York Times. Kripke is described therein as "thought to be the world's greatest living philosopher," which, since the deaths in recent years of W.V. Quine, David Lewis, and Donald Davidson, is probably true.

I only have two quibbles with the article. The first is this quote, regarding Kripke's Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language:

1980 book "Naming and Necessity," based on work he began in high school, is among the most influential philosophy books of the last 50 years, and his book-length interpretation of Wittgenstein, published two years later, is so thoroughgoing that some scholars now refer to a sort of composite figure known as Kripgenstein.

The book is not "thoroughgoing" at all; in fact it's rather short and terse. The appellation "Kripkenstein" for Kripke's interpretation of Wittgenstein is used because his interpretation is highly controversial among Wittgenstein scholars. But the arguments that Kripke attributes to Wittgenstein are so interesting in and of themselves, that philosophers want to discuss them without getting bogged down in the messy business of Wittgenstein interpretation.

My second quibble is with this quote from Richard Rorty. "Before Kripke, there was a sort of drift in analytic philosophy in the direction of linguistic idealism the idea that language is not tuned to the world. Saul almost single-handedly changed that."

What is that supposed to mean? Couldn't they find somebody besides Rorty to summarize the influnce of Kripke?



Brock on 01.30.06 @ 06:10 PM CST



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