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By Hilary Lawson

Lawson offers a entire examine the background of western notion, the evolution of technological know-how and its makes an attempt to supply us with a ''theory of everything'' and an evaluate of the relativist a number of truths.

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The argument I shall put forward aims to demonstrate that these theories offer no satisfactory solution to the problem, and that they only appear to do so by obscuring the fact that they have defined their terms in such a way that the paradox is not so much avoided as outlawed. The problems of self-reference that we have identified are analogous to the ancient liar paradox. The ancient liar paradox stated that ‘All Cretans are liars’ but was itself uttered by a Cretan thus making its meaning undecidable.

Tarski’s proposal that no language is allowed to contain its own truthpredicate is precisely designed to make this example impossible. The hierarchy of languages succeeds therefore only by providing an account of truth which makes genuine self-reference impossible. It can hardly be regarded therefore as a solution to the paradox of self-reference, since if xxxvi P RO L O G U E all that was required to solve the paradox was to ban it, this could have been done at the outset. The problem identified by Putnam regarding the description of the theory of the hierarchy of levels can be seen to be the reappearance of the problem of self-reference which is in practice outlawed within the theory itself.

Although the general thrust of these arguments may be accepted, there will be those who are nevertheless suspicious of the notion of a new terminology and an account which has the hallmarks of a general theory, if not a metaphysics. Amongst contemporary philosophers, aside from those still pursuing a theory that attempts to describe accurately the relation between language and the world, Rorty and Derrida might be expected to propose criticisms along these lines. Rorty has taken up arguments similar to those put forward in Reflexivity and might therefore accept at least elements of the description offered of the contemporary predicament.

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