Interpreting Spinoza’s Arguments - Toward a Formal Theory of Consistent Language Scepticism

Author: Nielsen, K. Hvidtfelt


“This book, the work of a distinguished rhetorician, critic and language theorist, argues the existence of a deep and puzzling conflict between cognition and language…. The approach of this work is truly revolutionary in two respects, namely the line of argument and the conclusions drawn. To bear out his thesis the author draws on thinkers as diverse as on one hand the later Wittgenstein, the later Heidegger, Derrida, and on the other hand ‘logical philosophers’ such as Kripke and Quine….The author’s excellence within hermeneutics as well as logic and analytical philosophy makes it possible to combine these contributions into a disheveling and most disturbing argument against the cognitive trust which we invest in language and everyday reasoning…. In support of both his scepticism and the solution offered, the author argues a deep indebtedness to Spinoza’s Ethica. Combining the techniques of historical interpretation with discussions of contemporary thought, the book effects first a radical criticism of customary intuitions, and then a logical presentation of what language, if adjusted to our intuitions, would look like…. The author takes great pains to show how and why this logic can be cognitively trusted. Thus he ends his intellectual voyage by testing the two famous Gödel theorems against his modal logic…. The book should be read by anyone interested in closing the gap separating the various disciplines dealing with language such as historical interpretation, hermeneutics, rhetorical and linguistic theory, philosophy of language, consciousness theory and formal logic.” – Per Hasle, University of Southern Denmark

“The author has presented us with a well-written and clearly argued work of high scholarly standard in its field. It will be of interest to students of formal semantics and those professionally interested in Spinoza or philosophy more generally….the work deserves very serious consideration and it is to be hoped that it will be thoroughly reviewed by logicians, students of Spinoza and linguists….a thought-provoking work, which contains some controversial approaches.” – Paul Rastall, University of Portsmouth, UK

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
1. Meaning: A Philosophical Dilemma
2. Hermeneutic Considerations
3. Theories of Meaning (Mutabilities of Affects; Indeterminacy of Meaning)
4. A Functionalist Ontology of the Mind
5. A Formal Theory of Consistent Meaning Scepticism
Bibliography; Indices of Names and Terms