Who are the characters in Naming and Necessity by Saul Kripke? This is a study guide question posted by eNotes Editorial. Please write a separate paragraph of analysis for each key character you discuss.
Sir Isaac Newton is regarded as one of the greatest contributors to the field of mathematics. He contributed in the fields of classical mechanics, optics, and calculus. The author mentions that, in case of famous personalities, our feelings upon hearing a name depend on our opinions formed earlier. These opinions, historical in nature, are essential references that guide our conduct.
Bertrand Russell was an English mathematician and philosopher. The author states that his own ideas in the field of analytical philosophy developed, to a degree, after he gave thought to Russell’s opinions on philosophy, for example, the concepts of rigid and nonrigid designations.
Sir P.F Strawson was a British philosopher who taught at the University of Oxford. His criticism on Bertrand Russell’s theory of descriptions heralded his arrival as a philosopher of note. The author invokes Strawson’s work to try and explain his own views on the cluster concept of theory of names.
Paul Ziff was an American philosopher who did notable work in the fields of semantics and aesthetics. He is widely remembered for his assertion that robots can never have feelings. The author makes a point that Paul Ziff did not regard names as having any meaning at all; in fact, he did not even regard names as part of language.
Santa Claus is a fictional character, possibly modeled after Saint Nicholas, and Kripke using him as an example of how names evoke images and ideas. The author says that even though there may exist a chain of references that connect Santa Claus to Saint Nicholas, when children hear the former name, the image it conjures is not of the saint but of the jolly old man in a red suit who travels in a sled pulled by reindeer. Thus, if at all there is a historical chain of reference, there is no guarantee that the original referent won’t be superseded by a more recent one.
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