• Le 21 septembre 2018
    De 11:00 à 13:00
    Campus Tertre
    Bâtiment Censive, Salle C027

Vendredi 21 septembre 2018, 11h
Responsable : Ivano Caponigro (University of California San Diego)

Titre: Richard Montague: The simplicity of language, the complexity of life. Towards a biography 

Résumé:  Richard Montague (1930-1971) was a brilliant logician and philosopher in the philosophy department at UCLA. He revolutionized our conception of language meaning by fathering a theory (known as “Montague Grammar” after his death) that unveiled the logical “simplicity” of natural language, and triggered a major breakthrough and the beginning of a new subfield in linguistics and philosophy of language: formal semantics.
Montague was more than just an exceptionally gifted academic: he was a man with a complex multi-faceted personality. At Berkeley, he was a brilliant student, with Alfred Tarski as his advisor. He had a passion for languages and literature and was close to the poets of the Berkeley Renaissance. At UCLA, he was a dedicated teacher who wrote a successful introductory logic textbook with his colleague Donald Kalish and a caring advisor who mentored students like Michael Bennett, Daniel Gallin, Hans Kamp, and Jeff Pelletier. His manner and temper were not always easy to handle and many colleagues found him intimidating. He was an accomplished organist and harpsichord player. He was close to Christopher Isherwood and his literary circle in Santa Monica. He also managed to become wealthy and owned fancy cars and real estate properties in Beverly Hills and the in the San Fernando Valley. And he was a gay man, who had to deal with legal and personal trouble and was murdered in his own home at the age of 40 (the crime is still unsolved).
In this talk, I present some preliminary results of my project to create an intellectual and personal biography of Richard Montague aimed at a broad not-exclusively academic audience. I will start by highlighting Montague’s contributions to linguistics (e.g., entailment as a core semantic phenomenon, NPs as generalized quantifiers) and then look back at his life to try to reconstruct his intellectual development and the cultural and social milieu around him (Stockton, CA in the 30s and 40s; Berkeley in the late 40s and mid 50s; Los Angeles from the mid 50s to the early 70s).