Author: Roy Harris, University of Oxford
Hardback: ISBN: 0826484506 Pages: 240 Price: U.K. £ 75
Paperback: ISBN: 0826478476 Pages: 240 Price: U.K. £ 25
In The Semantics of Science Roy Harris challenges a number of long-accepted assumptions about science and scientific discourse. According to Harris, science - like art, religion and history - is one of the supercategories adopted by modern societies for explaining and justifying certain types of human activity. Harris argues that these supercategories are themselves verbal constructs, and thus language-dependent. Each supercategory has its own semantics. The function of the supercategory is to integrate what would otherwise be unconnected forms of inquiry, and the result of such integrations is to draw a certain map of our intellectual world.
Among the questions tackled are: Is mathematics a language? Does the language of science go beyond the bounds of common sense? And if so, on what basis?
In a wide-ranging historical survey, Harris rejects the view that the Greeks or medieval thinkers had any concept of scientific inquiry that corresponds to our own. He pays close attention to the early work of the Royal Society and to the twentieth-century semantic crisis caused by attempting to integrate Einsteinian relativity and quantum mechanics.
This lucidly written book will be of interest to all those engaged in linguistics, semiotics, philosophy of science and cultural studies.
Roy Harris is Emeritus Professor of General Linguistics at the University of Oxford and editor of the journal Language and Communication. He is the author of The Necessity of Artspeak.
Philosophy of Language