Colin McGinn, "Philosophy of Language: the Classics Explained" (MIT Press, 2015)


I must admit that my relationship to philosophy of language is a bit like my relationship to classic literature: I tend to admire it from afar, and rely on the opinions of people who have read it. The danger is that the received wisdom can sometimes be unreliable, for one reason or another, either making something accessible sound rarefied, or making something subtle and elusive sound banal, or both. In his book, Philosophy of Language: the Classics Explained (MIT Press, 2015), Colin McGinn sets out to demystify some of the classic and much-cited texts in philosophy of language, and in doing so, also opens up some interesting new angles that tend to get overlooked. In this interview, we talk about the works, their historical context and their (ongoing) reception, and consider how the field has developed and might develop in the future.

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