Peter Naur: Antiphilosophical Dictionary

Thinking - Speech - Science/Scholarship


Psychology purged of philosophical misconceptions and language fallacies • Thinking described in terms of 38 locutions building upon William James’s stream of thought • Speech discussed in terms of 6 language fallacies • Coherent description as the core of the scientific/scholarly activity • Analyses of passages from René Descartes, Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Gilbert Ryle, and others.

102 pages, naur•com publishing, list price US $18.

How to Order

Order by email, telephone or fax at "Universitetsbogladen", the university bookstore of Copenhagen University for natural sciences and computing. Include the following information: Name, address, telephone number, number of books, and if convenient credit card data - needed when delivery is outside Scandinavia. The bookstore will reply with an acceptance of your order and inform you of the price including mailing costs.

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Back cover text:

The Revolt of Science/Scholarship Against Philosophy


For two thousand years, since Aristotle, the philosophers have presumed to possess the highest insight into the constitution of the world. They have encroached upon us with their talk of truth, logic, reality, essence, and being. Thereby they have perverted the understanding of human thinking and speech. They have imputed to us a barren, logic-bound conception of science and scholarship.

Antiphilosophical Dictionary displays the inanity of the traditional ways of talking of philosophers, as they are found in the writings of, among others, Descartes, Bertrand Russell, Gilbert Ryle, Martin Heidegger, and Ludwig Wittgenstein.

As contrast a coherent understanding of thinking, speech, and science/scholarship is presented, building upon William James’s classical description of the stream of thought and upon linguistic and scientific/scholarly practice as described by, among others, Otto Jespersen and James Watson.


Peter Naur, b. 1928, Danish scientist, mag. scient. in astronomy 1949, dr. phil. 1957. 1953-59 at Københavns Universitets Astronomiske Observatorium. 1959-69 at Regnecentralen and lecturer at Danmarks Tekniske Højskole and Niels Bohr Institute. 1969-98 professor of Datalogi at Københavns Universitet.


From reviews of the edition in Danish from 1999:

‘… the original thinker … In one dictionary article after the other Naur in his wholly original way dismisses both the Greek philosophers, Descartes, Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Russell, Einstein, and who else occurs to him … the book in a way also may be read as one long fan letter to the American William James, whose masterpiece ‘The Principles of Psychology’ is quoted at length …’

Kristian Ditlev Jensen, Berlingske Tidende.

‘And so the reader may be amused, get excited, become wiser, or throw the book into the fire, article after article– according to viewpoint and temperament.’

mt, Magisterbladet.

‘… when I then encountered the scientist Peter Naur’s recent book Antifilosofisk Leksikon, which reveals the whole complex of philosophical problems as a bunch of delusions and occupational projects for incarnate creatures of habit, my self-esteem rose as sharply as the effective income of the middle class during the same period.’

John Henriksen, Information.

‘The book directs refreshing, well-aimed kicks at all the philosophical misty talk, divorced from any experienced reality. It can (and should) be read by anyone interested in philosophy and psychology, both professionals and non-profs.’

Martin Hjelmborg, Indbindingscentralen.

The complete reviews of the Danish edition.


From the Summary:

The main scientific contribution of the Dictionary is a coherent understanding of thinking, speech, and science/scholarship. This understanding is presented, primarily, in the form of a set of articles explaining a particular use of the following descriptive terms:

association, association by similarity, attention, belief, building site metaphor, concept, definition, description, description form, disposition, explanation, feeling, fringe, habit, introspection, knowhow, knowing, knowing by acquaintance, mental object, mind, model, octopus in pile of rags metaphor, perception, property, psychology, reasoning, scientific-scholarly activity, splashes over the waves metaphor, stream of consciousness, stream of thought, substantive state, thought, thought object, theory, thing, thinking, transitive state.


Additionally, the understanding of speech is presented in articles discussing 6 language fallacies: