The Semantics of Science (2005)

   •Roy Harris

Hardcover: 219 pages
ISBN: 0826484506

Science is one of the supercategories adopted by modern societies for explaining and justifying certain types of human activity. (Others are art, religion, history and law.) These categories are themselves verbal constructs and thus language-dependent. Each supercategory has its own semantics. The function of a 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. In a wide-ranging historical survey, this book rejects the view that the Greeks or medieval thinkers had any concept of scientific inquiry that corresponds to out own. Particular attention is paid to the early work of the Royal Society and to the 20th-century semantic crisis caused by attempting to integrate Einsteinian relativity and quantum mechanics.

– ‘Harris shows that science is not a timeless, spaceless or selfless endeavour. Scientists appear ensnared in the double hubris that results from assuming otherwise’: Madalena Cruz-Ferreira inThe Linguist


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© Roy Harris, Emeritus Professor of General Linguistics, Oxford, 2010-2015