The Times has a story today by Jim Holt ("Is Philosophy Literature") about philosophy, which concludes by describing the contribution of Saul to the field:
Literary pleasures can turn up even in the most seemingly abstruse reaches of analytic philosophy. Take the case of Saul Kripke — widely (though not unanimously) considered the one true genius in the profession today. Kripke’s work can be dauntingly technical. The first volume of his collected papers, recently published by Oxford University Press under the arresting title “Philosophical Troubles,” will be a treasure trove to his fellow philosophers of logic and language, but it is not for the casual reader. However, an earlier work of his, the revolutionary “Naming and Necessity,” is so lucidly, inventively and even playfully argued that even a newcomer to analytic philosophy will find it hard to put down. The book is actually a transcription of three lectures Kripke gave, extemporaneously and without notes, at Princeton in January 1970 — hence its lovely conversational tone.Next question: Is Talmud literature? (PS: Reality check. No and no.)
Ranging over deep matters like metaphysical necessity, the a priori and the mind-body problem, Kripke proceeds by way of a dazzling series of examples involving Salvador Dalí and Sir Walter Scott, the standard meter stick in Paris, Richard Nixon (plus David Fry’s impersonation of him), and an identity-like logical relation Kripke calls “schmidentity.” There is not a dogmatic or pompous word in the lectures — and not a dull one either. Kripke the analytic philosopher reveals himself to be a literary stylist of the first water (just as, say, Richard Feynman the physicist did). The reader more than forgives Kripke when he remarks at one point, apropos of his unwillingness to give a thoroughly worked-out theory of reference, “I’m sort of too lazy at the moment.”
I hope I have clinched my case for analytic philosophy as belles lettres. But perhaps I should give the last word to a real literary man, John Milton, who prophetically wrote of Kripke, Russell and their kind:
How charming is divine philosophy!
Not harsh and crabbèd as dull fools suppose,
But musical as is Apollo’s lute
And a perpetual feast of nectared sweets…