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Willard Van Orman Quine

Willard Van Orman Quine (1908–2000) held the Edgar Pierce Chair of Philosophy at Harvard University from 1956 to 2000. Considered one the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century, he is the author of Mathematical Logic, The Roots of Reference, The Time of My Life: An Autobiography (MIT Press), and many other books.

Titles by This Author

Willard Van Orman Quine begins this influential work by declaring, "Language is a social art. In acquiring it we have to depend entirely on intersubjectively available cues as to what to say and when." As Patricia Smith Churchland notes in her foreword to this new edition, with Word and Object Quine challenged the tradition of conceptual analysis as a way of advancing knowledge. The book signaled twentieth-century philosophy's turn away from metaphysics and what Churchland calls the "phony precision" of conceptual analysis.

An Autobiography

"Some Pow'r did us the giftie grant/ To see oursels as others can't." With that play on Burns' famous line as a preface, Willard Van Orman Quine sets out to spin the yarn of his life so far. And it is a gift indeed to see one of the world's most famous philosophers as no one else has seen him before. To catch an intimate glimpse of his seminal and controversial theories of philosophy, logic, and language as they evolved, and to hear his warm and often amusing comments on famous contemporary philosophers.

Language consists of dispositions, socially instilled, to respond observably to socially observable stimuli. Such is the point of view from which a noted philosopher and logician examines the notion of meaning and the linguistic mechanisms of objective reference.