Open Access Peer-reviewed Book Review

Sounding out Semantics: The Limits of Philosophy

Main Article Content

Wei Xu corresponding author
Zhengying Luo


By advocating a “non-semantic” perspective of words as conditioned acoustic symbols rather than fixed representations, this book challenges the mainstream philosophy of language. It critiques the dualism and literalism that underpin linguistic theory, arguing that meaning emerges from usage, not semantics. In seven chapters, original frameworks aim to provide more accurate analyses of contextual human symbol use, which resolve enduring puzzles in the philosophy of language, mathematics, and epistemology. It is acknowledged in the book that discussing language using language itself is inherently difficult. This unified theory rejecting semantic assumptions could significantly transform the understanding of language acquisition, communication across cultures, and biases embedded in linguistic symbols if empirically validated.  This seminal contribution provides valuable new insights into the emergence of meaning in human thought and communication by emphasizing conditioned usage and over-representation. In this review, we summarize the philosophy and significance of the book, and discuss its contribution to the field of study.

language learning, linguistic philosophy, semantic symbol, word meaning

Article Details

Author Biography

Wei Xu, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, City University of Macau, Macau, China

Dr. Wei Xu is an Associate Professor and PhD Supervisor at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, City University of Macau. He is also the Program Coordinator for the Bachelor of Arts in English and Bachelor of Arts in Applied Linguistics. His research interests include second language acquisition, foreign language education, educational technology, and multicultural studies.

How to Cite
Xu, W., & Luo, Z. (2024). Sounding out Semantics: The Limits of Philosophy. Advances in Educational Research and Evaluation, 4(1), 250-253.


  1. Mott RJ. Sounding out Semantics: The Limits of Philosophy. Huge Jam Publishing, UK, 2020.