Sign and Object : Quine’s forgotten book project

Synthese 196 (12):5039-5060 (2019)
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Abstract
W. V. Quine’s first philosophical monograph, Word and Object, is widely recognized as one of the most influential books of twentieth century philosophy. Notes, letters, and draft manuscripts at the Quine Archives, however, reveal that Quine was already working on a philosophical book in the early 1940s; a project entitled Sign and Object. In this paper, I examine these and other unpublished documents and show that Sign and Object sheds new light on the evolution of Quine’s ideas. Where “Two Dogmas of Empiricism” is usually considered to be a turning point in Quine’s development, this paper redefines the place of ‘Two Dogmas’ in his oeuvre. Not only does Quine’s book project reveal that his views were already fairly naturalistic in the early 1940s ; Sign and Object also unearths the steps Quine had to take in maturing his perspective; steps that will be traced in the second half of this paper.
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Archival date: 2018-03-06
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2018-02-02

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