Reference and Existence, Saul Kripke's John Locke Lectures for 1973, can be read as a sequel to his classic Naming and Necessity. It co nfronts important issues left open in that work -- among them, the semantics of proper names and natural kind terms as they occur in fiction and in myth; negative existential statements; the ontology of fiction and myth (whether it is true that fictional characters like Hamlet, or mythical kinds like bandersnatches, might have existed). In treating these questions, he makes a number of methodological observations that go beyond the framework of his earlier book -- including the striking claim that fiction cannot provide a test for theories of reference and naming. In addition, these lectures provide a glimpse into the transition to the pragmatics of singular reference that dominated his influential paper, "Speaker's Reference and Semantic Reference" -- a paper that helped reorient linguistic and philosophical semantics. Some of the themes have been worked out in later writings by other philosophers - many influenced by typescripts of the lectures in circulation -- but none have approached the careful, systematic treatment provided here. The virtuosity of Naming and Necessity -- the colloquial ease of the tone, the dazzling, on-the-spot formulations, the logical structure of the overall view gradually emerging over the course of the lectures -- is on display here as well.
"Everything I think about goes back in some way to Kripke and his ideas. For years, many of his legendary lectures have been unavailable -- except in various preprints, difficult-to-read Xeroxes, etc. Now, with the publication by Oxford University Press of the first volume of his collected essays, Philosophical Troubles, and the John Locke Lectures, this problem has been partially remedied. His writing (even though it has often come in part from spoken lectures) is like no other -- equal parts perverse, funny, brilliant, and surprising. I think of him as not so much an heir to Russell and Wittgenstein, but to Poe and Twain."--Errol Morris, Filmmaker
"For decades getting a copy of these lectures has been a holy grail for philosophers working on fiction. It is a landmark event to have them now publicly available, where they can get the critical attention--and have the full impact--they deserve. This volume will be essential reading for anyone working on fictional discourse, nonexistence claims, the ontology of fiction, and related issues. It will no doubt be a major influence on work in these areas for decades to come."--Amie Thomasson, Professor of Philosophy, Cooper Fellow, and Parodi Senior Scholar in Philosophy of Art, Department of Philosophy, University of Miami
"Saul Kripke's Naming and Necessity is widely acknowledged as one of the most important works of twentieth century philosophy. In his 1973 Locke lectures he develops, extends, and elaborates the ideas in Naming and Necessity in major ways, and replies to potential objections. Rumours of the contents have circulated in the philosophical community, as have samizdat copies of the transcript, but in the absence of an authorized version most people have been reluctant to address the views directly as Kripke's. The publication of these lectures will be an event comparable in salience and significance to the posthumous publication of some of Wittgenstein's works, both for the history of recent analytic philosophy and for contemporary philosophy of language, philosophical logic, and metaphysics, where Kripke's ideas are fundamental to much of what is going on now."--Timothy Williamson, Wykeham Professor of Logic, University of Oxford