Book jacket: The meaning of a word is not an abstract idea for which the word stands, nor is it the uses to which the word can be out, nor the linguistic rules governing the word's use. The meaning of a word is a set of theories.
How can different individuals learn the same language, of potentially infinite complexity, if each possesses only finite evidence, which moreover, does not completely coincide with the evidence possessed by other individuals?
The answer is that their understanding of language is approximate. Individuals never really understand a different, distinct language, which is largely similar to the languages understood by the other individuals.
In this revolutionary study of the philosophical problems of language, J.N. Hattiangadi offers a new approach which simultaneously solves several venerable conundrums in the origin and development of language and thought. His argument includes acute criticisms of the later Wittgenstein's theory of language use, Quine's approach to subjunctive conditionals, Kripke's analysis of proper names, and Chomsky's conjecture of an innate universal grammar.