Truth and Predication

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Overview

This brief book takes readers to the very heart of what it is that philosophy can do well. Completed shortly before Donald Davidson's death at 85, Truth and Predication brings full circle a journey moving from the insights of Plato and Aristotle to the problems of contemporary philosophy. In particular, Davidson, countering many of his contemporaries, argues that the concept of truth is not ambiguous, and that we need an effective theory of truth in order to live well.

Davidson begins by harking back to an early interest in the classics, and an even earlier engagement with the workings of grammar; in the pleasures of diagramming sentences in grade school, he locates his first glimpse into the mechanics of how we conduct the most important activities in our life--such as declaring love, asking directions, issuing orders, and telling stories. Davidson connects these essential questions with the most basic and yet hard to understand mysteries of language use--how we connect noun to verb. This is a problem that Plato and Aristotle wrestled with, and Davidson draws on their thinking to show how an understanding of linguistic behavior is critical to the formulating of a workable concept of truth.

Anchored in classical philosophy, Truth and Predication nonetheless makes telling use of the work of a great number of modern philosophers from Tarski and Dewey to Quine and Rorty. Representing the very best of Western thought, it reopens the most difficult and pressing of ancient philosophical problems, and reveals them to be very much of our day.

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Editorial Reviews

Times Literary Supplement

Donald Davidson's book is a fitting conclusion to his oeuvre. It achieves what is perhaps its main objective in demonstrating the centrality of the concept of truth in the field of the philosophy of language. More, it develops and unifies many of the author's favourite themes and does so with energy and grace. It is not uncontentious; and it would be less interesting if it were. It makes us the more aware of the loss of one of the most powerful and influential figures of our time.
— P. F. Strawson

Philosophy

Overall, Donald Davidson's book is a fitting conclusion to his oeuvre. It achieves what is perhaps its main objective in demonstrating the centrality of the concept of truth in the field of the philosophy of language. More, it develops and unifies many of the author's favourite themes and does so with energy and grace...It makes us the more aware of the loss of one of the most powerful and influential figures of our time.
— P.F. Strawson

Times Higher Education Supplement

When Donald Davidson died unexpectedly on August 30, 2003, the English-speaking world lost one of its most influential philosophers, one who had dominated debates about meaning, mind, and language for 40 years...[Truth and Predication] contains important new ideas, confirming that Davidson's thought was still as fertile, subtle and provocative as ever.
— E. J. Lowe

Charles Parsons
Davidson was a distinguished philosopher, and the first three chapters of this book constitute his principal statement about the concept of truth. I consider it one of the most important philosophical writings about truth of its time. The remaining chapters give Davidson's view about a very ancient philosophical problem about predication, often called the "unity of the proposition". It may be that no one can say anything really definitive about the issue, but Davidson is far more sensitive to the issues involved than most of those who have written on the subject at all recently. They should serve to raise the consciousness of contemporary philosophers of language.
Richard Rorty
The two philosophers who did the most to persuade us not to take the Cartesian caricature of the human situation seriously were the brilliant and eccentric Ludwig Wittgenstein and Donald Davidson. Davidson's and Wittgenstein's writings are not easy for the nonspecialist to grasp. Neither are those of Kant and Hegel. But the work of original and imaginative philosophers such as these, in the course of generations, gradually comes to have an influence on the entire culture. Their criticisms of our intellectual heritage change our sense of what is important to think about. A couple of centuries from now, historians of philosophy will be writing about the changes in the human self-image that Donald Davidson's writings helped bring about.
Times Literary Supplement - P. F. Strawson
Donald Davidson's book is a fitting conclusion to his oeuvre. It achieves what is perhaps its main objective in demonstrating the centrality of the concept of truth in the field of the philosophy of language. More, it develops and unifies many of the author's favourite themes and does so with energy and grace. It is not uncontentious; and it would be less interesting if it were. It makes us the more aware of the loss of one of the most powerful and influential figures of our time.
Philosophy - P.F. Strawson
Overall, Donald Davidson's book is a fitting conclusion to his oeuvre. It achieves what is perhaps its main objective in demonstrating the centrality of the concept of truth in the field of the philosophy of language. More, it develops and unifies many of the author's favourite themes and does so with energy and grace...It makes us the more aware of the loss of one of the most powerful and influential figures of our time.
Times Higher Education Supplement - E. J. Lowe
When Donald Davidson died unexpectedly on August 30, 2003, the English-speaking world lost one of its most influential philosophers, one who had dominated debates about meaning, mind, and language for 40 years...[Truth and Predication] contains important new ideas, confirming that Davidson's thought was still as fertile, subtle and provocative as ever.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674030404
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 9/15/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 194
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Donald Davidson was most recently Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley.
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Table of Contents

Foreword

Preface

Introduction

1. Theories of Truth

2. What More Is There to Truth?

3. The Content of the Concept of Truth

4. The Problem of Predication

5. Failed Attempts

6. Truth and Predication

7. A Solution

Bibliography

Index

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