Saul Kripke

Biography of Saul Kripke

Saul Aaron Kripke (born November 13, 1940) is an American philosopher and logician. He is a professor emeritus at Princeton and teaches as a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the CUNY Graduate Center. Since the 1960s Kripke has been a central figure in a number of fields related to mathematical logic, philosophy of language, philosophy of mathematics, metaphysics, epistemology, and set theory. Much of his work remains unpublished or exists only as tape-recordings and privately circulated manuscripts. Kripke was the recipient of the 2001 Schock Prize in Logic and Philosophy. A recent poll conducted among philosophers ranked Kripke among the top ten most important philosophers of the past 200 years.

Kripke has made influential and original contributions to logic, especially modal logic. Unusual for a professional philosopher, his only degree is an undergraduate degree from Harvard, in mathematics. His work has profoundly influenced analytic philosophy, with his principal contribution being a semantics for modal logic, involving possible worlds as described in a system now called Kripke semantics. Another of his most important contributions is his argument that necessity is a 'metaphysical' notion, which should be separated from the epistemic notion of a priori, and that there are necessary truths which are a posteriori truths, such as "Water is H2O." He has also contributed an original reading of Wittgenstein, referred to as "Kripkenstein." His most famous work is Naming and Necessity (1980).

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