(Student Guide to World Philosophy)

A long-standing concern for philosophers has been the issue of meaning, not just the meaning of things such as the meaning of life or the meaning of freedom but also the meaning of words and sentences. What words and sentences mean, how they “have meaning,” and how speakers can use them to mean things have been debated as far back as Plato’s Cratylos (c. 388-368 b.c.e.; Cratylus, 1804). Many twentieth century philosophers addressed the issue of reference, how words refer to objects.