Language and Time
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Language and Time

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This book offers a defense of the tensed theory of time, a critique of the New Theory of Reference, and an argument that simultaneity is absolute. Although Smith rejects ordinary language philosophy, he shows how it is possible to argue from the nature of language to the nature of reality. Specifically, he argues that semantic properties of tensed sentences are best explained by the hypothesis that they ascribe to events temporal properties of futurity, presentness, or pastness and do not merely ascribe relations of earlier than or simultaneity. He criticizes the New Theory of Reference, which holds that "now" refers directly to a time and does not ascribe the property of presentness. Smith does not adopt the old or Fregean theory of reference but develops a third alternative, based on his detailed theory of de re and de dicto propositions and a theory of cognitive significance. He concludes the book with a lengthy critique of Einstein's theory of time. Smith offers a positive argument for absolute simultaneity based on his theory that all propositions exist in time. He shows how Einstein's relativist temporal concepts are reducible to a conjunction of absolutist temporal concepts and relativist nontemporal concepts of the observable behavior of light rays, rigid bodies, and the like.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 272 pages
  • 160.5 x 233.7 x 17.3mm | 349.27g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195155947
  • 9780195155945
  • 1,696,716

Review quote

"Quentin Smith has produced a masterpiece....Language and Time will be regarded as the classic statement of the new tensed theory of time."-The Philosophical Review "Language and Time is the most important work defending the tensed theory of time to appear since Richard Gale's 1968 book The Language of Time. Smith offers powerful arguments against the new theory of reference propounded by leading philosophers writing in the philosophy of language today. In the final chapter Smith argues that Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity is not a theory about the nature of time, but about the observable behavior of light rays and the like. His general procedure is to argue that temporal properties in the Special Theory of Relativity are reducible to nontemporal properties and some primitive temporal properties of real (metaphysical) time, which is absolute. In this chapter, as throughout the book, his arguments are clearly stated, forceful, and thought provoking....Smith's book is tour de force that is required reading for those working in the philosophy of time."-L. Nathan Oaklander, University of Michigan at Flint "No philosopher has done more in recent years to develop and defend the tensed theory of time: the view that past, present and future are real features of the universe."-D.H. Mellorshow more

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