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Naming and Necessity

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  3,714 ratings  ·  72 reviews
If there is such a thing as essential reading in metaphysics or in philosophy of language, this is it.

Ever since the publication of its original version, "Naming and Necessity" has had great and increasing influence. It redirected philosophical attention to neglected questions of natural and metaphysical necessity and to the connections between these and theories of refere
Paperback, 172 pages
Published April 15th 1982 by Harvard University Press (first published 1980)
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Jun 24, 2009 rated it liked it
As you can see if you read the other reviews, there are a lot of ways to approach Naming and Necessity, and some of them get into very technical philosophical territory. Those ways of reading it are interesting, but I think that what Kripke is saying is, in the end, quite simple, which is why the book has enjoyed such lasting popularity. He just had to express much of the argument in terms of the language of "possible worlds", which was fashionable at the time.

Kripke's basic point, to me, is rat
Roy Lotz
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It really is a nice theory. The only defect I think it has is probably common to all philosophical theories. It’s wrong. You may suspect me of proposing another theory in its place; but I hope not, because I’m sure it’s wrong too if it is a theory.

Like many other works of philosophy (and those of other subjects, for that matter), Naming and Necessity will likely be perplexing if
Jon Stout
Jun 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: mathematicians and linguists
Recommended to Jon by: Ambi Mani & Hugh Hagius
Shelves: philosophy
I remember in graduate school, when Kripke visited as a young genius, I didn’t know quite what to make of him. I remember A. J. Ayer, the logical positivist and a bastion of British philosophy, expostulating from the podium, “So there, Kripke!” in the middle of a presentation, as though Kripke were the only one in the audience worthy of his vitriol. It wasn’t until now that, under the influence of philosophical friends, I got around to reading Kripke’s best known book.

It’s still hard to grasp th
Aug 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
It has to be said, although it's too much said, that Naming and Necessity revolutionized philosophy of language and is probably the most influential book in analytic philosophy in the past half-century.

I've read Naming and Necessity four times now and am still surprised by it. Kripke's style is, particularly in relation to his peers, strikingly clear. In fact, if I have one criticism to mention offhand, it's that Kripke's style is too seductive. Often he makes claims that sound eminently reason
Jon Gauthier
Apr 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: linguists, cognitive scientists, philosophy students
An extremely important book for the philosophy of language, and also very relevant in philosophy of mind. The book consists of 3 transcribed+edited lectures which Kripke apparently gave extemporaneously. This lecture format means that the book is rather quick and easy to read, and almost entirely free of (symbolic) logic (!).

But beware: this is probably not a good place to dive into analytic philosophy without any background. Plenty of the existing reviews of this book on Goodreads will give you
Hossein Gholamie
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
How do words (in language) refer to things (objects) in the world?
What is the meaning?
Is the molecular formula of water essential or possible?
What is identity in objects (or individuals)?
How do we refer to things that are not (non-existent)? For example: Unicorn or Sherlock Holmes.
Kripke's discussions in this book are about two areas of metaphysics and epistemology and three branches in philosophy: philosophy of language and philosophy of science and philosophy of mind.
Kripke in this book (lectu
Heath Allen
Sep 23, 2012 rated it did not like it
For a "revolutionary" or "landmark" book, it contains surprisingly nothing of substance. I suppose it's interesting for people who already accept notions like necessity and the a priori, and for those who think that the notion of "meaning" is clear enough to lean on for any substantive philosophical work. But as far as I can tell, philosophers who accept such notions don't do so on the basis of any argument (for all their arguments depend on such notions). So it's a good book for philosophers wh ...more
Erik C
Feb 27, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned

Saul Kripke’s Naming and Necessity addresses how words come to point to the things in the world that they refer to. Kripke successfully paints a more accurate picture of how this happens than the accepted view. Further, Kripke shows how we can have empirical knowledge of necessities by showing that certain identity statements are necessarily true if they are true at all. However, Kripke tries but fails to use this corrected view to launch an attack against materialism.

The theory Kripke hopes to
I can tell you with certainty that this is an important argument. What I cannot tell you with certainty is whether I agree with Kripke's assertion that a name is a "rigid designator." I know that I need more history to fully understand Kripke's argument, and that he's responding to Russell (whom I haven't read enough of) and Frege (whom I haven't read at all), and I'm trying to figure out how Kripke's arguments about philosophy of language relate to Hilary Putnam's especially (they seem like fel ...more
Jacob Aitken
Kripke’s thesis is that rigid designators are true, we have an intuition of them, and that they are the same in every possible world (Kripke 48). A designator is a common term that covers names and definitions (24). Specifically, names are rigid designators (48). Kripke also has a lucid discussion on what a “possible world” is (and isn’t). We imagine a situation that could have been otherwise. What properties of x would remain in that world and which would be different?

Example: “The man who inve
Si Barron
Nov 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Hmm- just re-reading this classic and savouring it's utter greatness.

Why do I (and so many others) like it so much? Well, the style is informal for starters- the guy was young and giving a talk (this 'book' is a transcript) NOTE- this has it's own set of drawbacks- some of the points are not clearly made- most are though; also some digressions are unnecessary and some phrasing unfelicitous or downright irritating.

Mainly though because it instills a sense of wonder into previously dry fields of l
Feb 04, 2009 added it
Shelves: philosophy
one of the things i love about philosophy is that, just like in real life, you can't have everything you want. we have enough beliefs that are in contradiction with one another, that holding on to any one usually entails giving up some others. this is even true of our most cherished beliefs-- or, at least, it's been this way for me. another thing i love about philosophy is the way it exercised my imagination. when you have to give up some of the very beliefs that allowed you to make sense your o ...more
Dec 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book, one of the most important in philosophy in the last century, consists of a series of 3 lectures, and as a result is very accessible. Kripke's main argument is that there are some matters which are a posteriori and necessary when we fix a reference. For example, once we identify something as water, and then discover that it consists of H20, then it is necessarily composed of H20, that is, must be H20 in every possible world. That is because the reference has been fixed to an actual obj ...more
Jon Norimann
Jan 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
I had this book recommended to me as a classic of modern philosophy. As such I am a bit disappointed. It is possible the books greatness is over my head but to me it's a short inconclusive discussion of implicit assumptions in the use of nouns. The writing is not very impressive either. All in all not a must read at all unless this is your field of specialty or you just want to read highly regarded modern philosophy.
Apr 05, 2011 rated it liked it
Fast read for a philosophy book and interesting ideas, particularly as regards how names work, the necessity of certain traits, and the existence of a posteriori analytic knowledge. Gets bogged down at the end with the mind body problem, but that might have just been me.

Glad I read it, but probably missed a lot by not reading it for class and discussing it.
Jun 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
First of all, there need to be way more books like this - transcriptions of lectures of brilliant people speaking without any notes (so the claim goes). The style is, Kripke himself admits, informal, but the casual informality doesn't belie the brilliance, rigor, and power of his arguments.

Some may say that there isn't much argumentation in this lecture series, that it really just amounts to presenting intuitions through examples and thought experiments for why, for one, the traditionally held d
Shozab Qasim
Jul 24, 2017 rated it did not like it
Apparently this book is considered one of the most influential works of 20th century Analytical Philosophy. I suppose it would appeal to those who are interested in the metaphysics of language and in things like the theory of names. I personally am not. I am appreciative of the fact that Kripke clearly outlined the descriptive theory of reference more clearly than the theories founders, something which Kripke himself proudly stated. And I agree with his refutations(which I have to admit are quit ...more
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Kripke outlines really well the history of philosophical theories of naming and then argues for his own theory (and then talks about some interesting extensions of it). His general argument is that names are rigid designators (same in all possible worlds) while descriptions are contingent and possibly not the same in different worlds, so names cannot be synonymous with descriptions.

It's easy to accept Kripke's argument solely based on how easy he is to read and understand rather than based on h
Dec 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'm not a fan of reading primary sources so I resisted many recommendations to read this book. But after I heard Prof. Kotatko's lecture about problems of theory of Descriptions in which he praised this book I gave up my resistance.

It's quie amusing, very interesting and suprisingly easy to understand (but not as easy as people tend to tell you). Although being transcription of lectures it looks like carefully written book. There's so many interesting ideas delivered with well-chosed, sometimes
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the first classics of philosophy I have ever finished reading (after reading so many Locke, Kant etc.). The book is clear, fresh and intriguing. It is based on some lectures given by Kripke in the early 1970s. It is interesting that Kripke developed his theory in his early age, which means that young men could achieve great goals in the field of philosophy. I will write my review in Chinese to avoid mistakes.
命名与必然性一书,整体的结构非常清晰。作者在最后攻击了当时在心灵哲学界很有名的理论就是“同一论” (identity theory). 这种理论认为心灵现象和大
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In the wake of Kripke, analytical philosophy rediscovered or reconstructed metaphysics in the sense that we could talk of the genuine logical properties and relationships in things themselves rather than in discourses. People are cornered by his argument into the conclusion that the triviality of identity can not lie in the contingent structure of our language, but rather it's embedded in the transcendental conditions of our ways of making sense of this world. To put it in a disputable way, this ...more
Shane Wagoner
May 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wittgenstein once spoke of a man who, despite pushing as hard as he could, could not open a door. Unbeknownst to the man, a simple pull was sufficient. In reading Naming And Necessity, it is clear that Saul Kripke stands in a similar position. A great deal of the book's brilliance lies in the astonishing simplicity of his solution to some of philosophy's most fiendish puzzles and the ease with which he lectures reveals the powerful grasp he has on the issues he describes. One of the most enjoyab ...more
Mar 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Naming and Necessity is an unusual thought experiment in relation to metaphysical reasoning and a priori thought of the things around us. It explores the connections between our deduction and reasoning processes as to why we name objects, qualities, and even people. Kripke argues the origins of words and references that have become so ingrained into society that we only see or perceive these things in a sort of collective memory and to think of them in other ways would become an unnatural proces ...more
Vivian Rapacciuolo
May 04, 2017 rated it liked it
thank god for a philosophy book with no equations. kripke seems like a cool dude
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
To be honest, this is the first philosopgical book that I've read thoroughly.
Michael Degen
Sep 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Disagree with Kripkes’s assertion of rigid designators and looking forward to reading Lewis
Nov 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Philosophy Fans
Shelves: philosophy
What exactly do the names of things refer to? Ever since the concepts of sense and reference displaced the the use of genus and differentia, how do we determine reference, especially in the case of counterfactuals?

The standard answer had been to approach reference descriptively -- if you use a word of a certain sense, its reference would be the description it fits. But in Naming and Necessity, Kripke begs to differ. And if he’s right, the notion of reference has become a lot easier to manage.

Apr 08, 2012 rated it liked it
To tell you the truth, i'm not sure what all the bustle is about. It's a strong text, no doubt. I particularly relish his criticism of Russel and Frege, and their 'definite description' account of naming, where Aristotle= the man who taught Alexander, or the student of Plato. (I'm not sure what to make of his criticism of Searle's 'cluster concept' of definite description). Moreover, Kripke's recognition that there are such things as contingent a-priori and necessary a-posteriori modalities, is, ...more
Aug 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Sept. 2, 2008: Fantastic book. Very lucid and insightful on a whole range of topics. Of course, I am particularly fond of his discussion of the mind/body problem, but there is something for everything in these published lectures.

Kripke's modal argument against materialism is forceful. He begins this argument by pointing out that 'pain' and 'C-fiber firing' are both rigid designators (they are the same in all possible worlds). Because they are rigid designators, for pain and C-fiber firing to be
Mar 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Since this book is based on Kripke's lectures, its style is relaxed and informal. Make no mistake, however, for appearances can be misleading. This is a serious and dense discussion on foundational philosophical concepts, like modality, aprioricity, and reference. Moreover, this is the book that almost single-handedly revived metaphysics and as such, is considered a monumental work of 20th century philosophy. Nevertheless, having read it I remain unimpressed. There are two reasons for this:

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Saul Aaron Kripke is an American philosopher and logician, now emeritus from Princeton. He teaches as distinguished professor of philosophy at CUNY Graduate Center. Since the 1960s Kripke has been a central figure in a number of fields related to logic, philosophy of language, metaphysics, epistemology, and set theory. Much of his work remains unpublished or exists only as tape-recordings and priv ...more