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Reference and Existence, Saul Kripke's John Locke Lectures for 1973, can be read as a sequel to his classicNaming and Necessity. It confronts important issues left open in that work -- among them, the semantics of proper names and natural kind terms as they occur in fiction and in myth; negative existential statements; the ontology of fiction and myth (whether it is true that fictional characters like Hamlet, or mythical kinds like bandersnatches, might have existed). In treating these questions, he makes a number of methodological observations that go beyond the framework of his earlier book -- including the striking claim that fiction cannot provide a test for theories of reference and naming. In addition, these lectures provide a glimpse into the transition to the pragmatics of singular reference that dominated his influential paper, "Speaker's Reference and Semantic Reference" -- a paper that helped reorient linguistic and philosophical semantics. Some of the themes have been worked out in later writings by other philosophers - many influenced by typescripts of the lectures in circulation -- but none have approached the careful, systematic treatment provided here. The virtuosity ofNaming and Necessity-- the colloquial ease of the tone, the dazzling, on-the-spot formulations, the logical structure of the overall view gradually emerging over the course of the lectures 0- is on display here as well. "There are many philosophers who have devoted their careers to picking away at the carcass of one philosophical problem or another. A bone here, a sinew there. Kripke, on the other hand, has not only created a new way of looking at philosophical problems, he has invented a host of philosophical questions and possible solutions that were unimagined before he came along. Questions about meaning and reference, epistemology, induction... It is a long laundry list. And for me, he has been invaluable. Everything I think about goes back in some way to Kripke and his ideas. For years, many of his legendary lectures have been unavailable -- except in various preprints, difficult-to-read Xeroxes, etc. Now, with the publication by Oxford University Press of the first volume of his collected essays,Philosophical Troubles, and the John Locke Lectures, this problem has been partially remedied. The John Locke Lectures, in particular, extend ideas developed inNaming and Necessity-- questions about the difference between fiction and non-fiction, belief and reference. His writing (even though it has often come in part from spoken lectures) is like no other -- equal parts perverse, funny, brilliant, and surprising. I think of him as not so much an heir to Russell and Wittgenstein, but to Poe and Twain."--Errol Morris, Filmmaker
Saul A. Kripke is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Computer Science at CUNY Graduate Center, and Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Princeton University. Author NAMING AND NECESSITY (1980), WITTGENSTEIN ON RULES AND PRIVATE LANGUAGE (1982), PHILOSOPHICAL TROUBLES (OUP 2011)