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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What do we mean by mean?, 10 Mar. 2012
By 
John Ferngrove (Hants UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: An Introduction to Philosophical Logic (Paperback)
Not for the faint hearted, and certainly one of the toughest books I have read, Grayling takes one to the very heart of the subject, where the most difficult questions seem to converge. On my first attempt at this book it became quickly apparent that an acquaintance with formal logic was presupposed, and that I had reached the point in my studies where I could no longer dodge the requirement. I therefore read Hodges' Logic, which is an excellent and quite brief introduction, and also Smith's An Introduction to Formal Logic, which is somewhat more in depth. I then commenced my second attempt at Grayling, gratified to find my comprehension significantly increased.

The first few chapters of the book review positions on various topics in an apparently piecemeal way; topics such as propositions, names and descriptions, existence and necessity, etc. At chapters five and six the focus narrows to concentrate on the nature of Truth, with things getting more intense at chapter six when we dive into Tarski's semantic theory of Truth. Chapter's seven and eight hone in on what would seem the book's central topic, insofar as all these topics are fiendishly interrelated, which is meaning. Chapter seven reviews various positions on meaning, while eight focuses on truth-functional theories of meaning; basically, those positions based on the meaning of a proposition being the conditions determining its truth or falsity. The final part of chapter eight delves into the manner in which the theory of meaning we choose determines and/or is determined by our metaphysical conception of the world, i.e. on what stuff there actually is. The final chapter takes these ideas still further, reviewing arguments that ultimately it is an epistemological issue, that our concepts of meaning and metaphysics must derive from what we think the world is like with respect to what we can and cannot know about it.

I cannot pretend that I understood more than half of what I read, this time around. Certainly, by the end I was hanging on to the argument by less than half a coattail. Grayling's prose has a particular elegance that makes one want to really understand what he has written. However, there is a definite sense that at the start of the book he is addressing students, while at the end he is addressing peers, and that the gradual transition throughout the course of the book is quite deliberate. I will need to retreat to the foothills for a bit, and read more around the various topics discussed before my third attempt. Books I have in mind for the next stage of the journey are Inwagen's Metaphysics: The Big Questions and Sainsbury's Logical Forms: An Introduction to Philosophical Logic. So, despite my semi-befuddlement at the end, the journey was gripping, and I learned a great deal along the way. This is a superb book from a superb mind.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not for absolute beginners, but a very good starter for deeper study, 1 Sept. 2010
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C. K. Robinson (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: An Introduction to Philosophical Logic (Paperback)
I'm not a philosophy undergraduate, but have slowly been reading my way through from Descartes, forwards and backwards. This deals with some more or less complex core processes of philosophical logic (not the same as formal logic, it is not full of symbols and mathematics), and does so in a way that quickly inspires trust in the Author's teaching skills. A compelling study, and likely re-read - I am honestly not understanding everything first off, but feel encouraged by the style to return rather than run!
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An Introduction to Philosophical Logic
An Introduction to Philosophical Logic by Anthony C. Grayling (Paperback - 20 Nov. 1997)
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