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London Review of BooksWhen these lectures were first published eight years ago, they stood analytic philosophy on its ear. Everybody was either furious, or exhilarated, or thoroughly perplexed. No one was indifferent. This welcome republication in a separate volume (with a helpful new preface, but no substantive changes) provides a chance to look back at a modern classic, and to say something about why it was found so shocking and liberating.
Naming and Necessity lays out a way of thinking about the relation between language and the world which permits just as formal and rigorous a treatment of notions like "meaning," "truth" and "reference" as had Russell's and Frege's. Nobody would have believed that the neatness--what Kripke calls "the marvellous internal coherence"--of Frege-Russell semantics could be duplicated after everything was turned upside down. But Kripke showed how to do it, and now philosophers are busily rewriting all of semantics (and a good deal of epistemology) in Kripkean terms.