Review Sounding out semantics: The limits of philosophy (book review)

In semantics, we examine the literal meaning of words and the meaning that emerges from the way they are combined, which together form the core of meaning, or the starting point from which a particular statement derives its meaning. Many theories presume or assert that words are signs or symbols with literal meanings that can be determined without any consideration for where the word appears in larger grammatical constructions, the context in which it is used upon any specific occasion, or the speaker’s machinations. Despite this, this view of meaning poses problems and puzzles. In Sounding out Semantics: The Limits of Philosophy, the author presents original theories concerning the philosophy of language, mind, mathematics, and epistemology as a culmination of years of research. In seven chapters, this book synthesises contemporary philosophy in all these fields into a cohesive whole. The historical context for semantics, puzzles in modern semantics, and truth conditional semantics are discussed in the first chapter, and the author believes that despite the numerous efforts that have been made in attempts to explain the way language works, or how semantics works, no clear conclusion can be drawn. There is a pressing need for a convincing explanation of what happens when people engage in verbal communication, and how humans came to have this ability, both phylogenetically and ontogenetically. This book attempts to provide both the theoretical support and a broad outline for a revived non-semantic explanation of how language is acquired and used in the following chapters.


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