Kripke, Saul Aaron

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KRIPKE, SAUL AARON (1940– ), U.S. philosopher interested in metaphysics, philosophy of language, epistemology, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of logic and mathematics. Kripke helped advance understanding in modal logic, intuitionistic logic, and set theory. Formerly the McCosh Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University (where he became professor emeritus) and professor of philosophy at cuny Graduate Center, Kripke was the winner of the 2001 Schock Prize in Logic and Philosophy, and author of several seminal works, including Naming and Necessity (1980), based on a series of lectures he delivered at Princeton in 1970; a never-published but much circulated tome, based on lectures at Oxford in 1973, called Reference and Existence; and a controversial study called Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language.

Kripke was born in Bay Shore, New York, one of three children of a rabbi, Myer Kripke, and Dorothy Kripke, a teacher and writer of Jewish educational books for children. The family moved to Omaha, Nebraska, where Rabbi Kripke stewarded the Beth El synagogue, the city's only Conservative congregation. After graduating from Omaha Central High School in 1958, Kripke demonstrated an early and precocious interest in philosophy – at 15, he developed a semantics for quantified modal logic that would debut in The Journal of Symbolic Logic during his freshman year at Harvard. There, Kripke shared a dormitory room with constitutional law scholar Laurence *Tribe and, briefly, with Theodore Kaczynski, who would gain notoriety as "The Unabomber." After receiving a B.A. in mathematics in 1962, Kripke was appointed to the Harvard Society of Fellows.

Kripke began his academic career lecturing at Princeton and Harvard before joining the philosophy department at Rockefeller University in New York City, where he remained as professor of philosophy until leaving for Princeton in 1977. He was the youngest person ever to be asked to present the John Locke lectures at Oxford. Kripke married and subsequently divorced Margaret Gilbert, sister of British historian Martin *Gilbert.

Kripke devoted his earliest professional attention to the problems of naming, identity and possible (or counterfactual) worlds, arguing that identity is the necessary function of a relationship between a thing and itself, and never between a thing and something else. This argument, which he presented at his Princeton lectures and collected in Naming and Necessity, caused great consternation when published, standing analytic philosophy, according to the London Review of Books, "on its ears" and, according to others, making "metaphysics respectable again." In Reference and Existence, which circulates in Samizdat form and whose own existence may not, per Kripke's instructions, be referenced or quoted without permission, he addressed issues related to fictional names and perceptions. Kripke's analysis of the later Wittgenstein, presented in Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language: An Elementary Exposition (1982) proved no less controversial than his other works, not least for arguments purportedly at variance with positions on meaning held by the historical Wittgenstein.

[Sheldon Teitelbaum (2nd ed.)]