Dalla semantica filosofica alla lessicografia

Una ricognizione storico-critica da Wittgenstein a Quine

  • Antonio Rainone University “L’Orientale” of Naples


Perhaps there is still something to be said about the theory of meaning, the research area that has had so much relevance in analytic philosophy, thanks to philosophers such as Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Rudolf Carnap, and later W.V. Quine, Donald Davidson, and Michael Dummett. In the present essay, a historical sketch of the origins of some analytical views on meaning is provided, and some misunderstandings that made it so difficult to identify a non-controversial and widely shared definition of meaning are highlighted (§ 1). It is argued that Quine was probably right in suggesting that the search for such a definition was hopelessly erroneous. In §§ 2 and 3, it will be discussed Quine’s thesis that the notion of meaning does not need a foundation in terms of philosophical semantics, and that all is needed is a clarification at the lexicographic level.