A Technical Philosopher

Hilary Putnam

  • The Varieties of Reference by Gareth Evans, edited by John McDowell
    Oxford, 418 pp, £15.00, October 1982, ISBN 0 19 824685 4

Gareth Evans died of cancer when he was barely 34 years of age. He had been working on this book for several years; the task of completing it from his notes was carried out by John McDowell. (The first two chapters and the introduction were rewritten by Evans himself in the last months of his life.) Evans’s death at such an early age is a tragedy. We can have no real idea what his mature years might have brought forth, and this book is no substitute for those additional years of life and thought: it is the desperate attempt of a young man on his deathbed to leave a lasting mark on his profession. I do not like – in fact I hate – to say that he did not (in my opinion) succeed. And I apologise to those who will feel personally hurt at a negative review of a work produced by a vital person whom they knew and loved and miss today.

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