Language consists of dispositions, socially instilled, to respond observably to socially observable stimuli. Such is the point of view from which a noted philosopher and logician examines the notion of meaning and the linguistic mechanisms of objective reference. In the course of the discussion, Professor Quine pinpoints the difficulties involved in translation, brings to light the anomalies and conflicts implicit in our language's referential apparatus, clarifies semantic problems connected with the imputation of existence, and marshals reasons for admitting or repudiating each of various categories of supposed objects. He argues that the notion of a language-transcendent "sentence-meaning" must on the whole be rejected; meaningful studies in the semantics of reference can only be directed toward substantially the same language in which they are conducted.
Willard Van Orman Quine (1908-2000) held the Edgar Pierce Chair of Philosophy at Harvard University from 1956 to 2000. Considered one the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century, he is the author of Mathematical Logic, The Roots of Reference, The Time of My Life: An Autobiography (MIT Press), and many other books.