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01-R Carnap-The Elimination of Metaphysics

01-R Carnap-The Elimination of Metaphysics

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Published by: Alina Cosmulescu on Jan 13, 2009
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05/10/2014

 
TheEliminationofMetaphysicsThroughLogicalAnalysis
ofLanguage
:
BYRUDOLFCARNAPTRANSLATEDBYARTHURPAP
INTRODUCTION1/THEREHAVEBEENmany'
opponentsofmetaphysics
fromtheGreek
If
Skepticstotheempiricistsofthe19thcentury.Criticismsofverydiversekindshavebeensetforth.Manyhave'declaredthatthedoctrineofmetaphysicsis
false,
sinceitcontradictsourempiricalknowledge.Othershavebelievedittobeuncertain,onthegroundthatitsproblemstranscendthelimitsofhumanknowledge:Manyantimetaphysicianshavedeclaredthatoccupationwithmetaphysicalquestionsis
sterile.
Whetherornotthesequestionscanbeanswered,iUsatanyrateunnecessarytoworryaboutthem;letusdevoteourselvesentirelytothepracticaltaskswhichconfrontactivemeneverydayoftheirlives!
Thl3
developmentofmodernlogichasmadeitpossibletogiveanewandsharperanswertothequestionofthevalidityandjustificationofmetaphysics.Theresearchesofappliedlogicorthetheoryofknowledge,//whichaimatclarifyingthecognitivecontentofscientificstatements
1/
andtherebythemeaningsofthetermsthatoccurinthestatements,bymeansoflogicalanalysis,leadtoapositiveandtoanegativeresult.Thepositiveresultisworkedoutinthedomainofempiricalscience;thevariousconceptsofthevariousbranchesofscienceareclarified;theirformal-logicalandepistemologicalconnectionsaremadeexplicit.Inthedomainof
metaphysics,
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Thisarticle,originallyentitled"UberwindungderMetapl]ysikdurchLogischeAnalysederSprache,"appearedinErkennrnis,Vol.11(1932).ItispublishedherewiththekindpermissionofProfessorCarnap.
,,
----..-----..-..---------------..-----------------------------------....--.............-----------...--------....------
includingallphilosophyofvalueandnormativetheory,logical'analysisyieldsthenegativeresult
thattheallegedstatementsinthisdomainareentirelymeaningless.
Therewitharadicaleliminationof//metaphysicsisattained,whichwasnotyetpossiblefromtheearlierantimetaphysicalstandpoints.Itistruethatrelatedideasmaybefoundalreadyinseveralearliertrainsofthought,e.g.thoseofanominalistickind;butitisonlynowwhenthedevelopmentoflogicduringrecentdecadesprovidesuswithasufficientlysharptoolthatthedecisivestepcanbetaken.
II
Insayingthattheso-calledstatementsofmetaphysicsareQ'meaningless,weintendthiswordinitsstrictestsense.Inaloosesenseofthewordastatementoraquestionisattimescalledmeaningless,ifitisentirelysteriletoassertoraslXit.Wemightsaythisforinstanceaboutthequestion"whatistheaverageweightofthoseinhabitantsofViennawhosetelephonenumberendswith'3'?"oraboutastatementwhichisquiteobviouslyfalselike"in
1910
Viennahad6inhabitants"oraboutastatementwhichisnotjustempirically,butlogicallyfalse,acontradictarystatementsuchas"personsAandBareeachayearolderthantheother."Suchsentencesarereally#,meaningful,thoughtheyarepointlessorfalse;foritisonly'Vmeaningfulsentencesthatareevendivisibleinto(theoretically)
d
fruitfulandsterile,trueandfalse.Inthestrictsense,however,asequenceofwordsis
meaningless
ifitdoesnot,withinaspecified
II
language,constituteastatement.Itmayhappenthatsuchasequenceofwordslookslikeastatementatfirstglance;inthatcasewecallita
 
pseudo-statement.
Ourthesis,now,isthatlogicalanalysisrevealsthe
//
allegedstatementsofmetaphysicstobepseudo-statements.:IAlanguageconsistsofavocabularyandasyntax,i.e.asetofwords.whichhavemeaningsandrulesofsentenceformation.Theserulesindicatehowsentencesmay.beformedoutofthevarioussortsofwords.Accordingly,therearetwokindsofpseudo-statements:eithertheycontainawordwhichiserroneouslybelievedtohavemeaning,ortheconstituentwordsaremeaningful,yetareputtogetherinacounter-syntacticalway,sothattheydonotyieldameaningfulstatement.Weshallshowintermsofexamplesthatpseudo-statementsofbothkindsoccurinmetaphysics.Laterweshallhavetoinquireintothereasons
!
hatsupportourcontentionthatmetaphysicsinitsentirelyconsistsofsuchpseudo-statements..
1/
2.THESIGNIFICANCEOFAWORDAwordwhich(withinadefinitelanguage)hasameaning,isusually
//
alsosaidtodesignateaconcept;ifitonlyseemstohaveameaning
//
whileitreallydoesnot,wespeakofa"pseudo-concept."Howistheoriginofapseudo-concepttobeexplained?Hasnoteverywordbeenintroducedintothelanguagefornootherpurposethantoexpresssomethingorother,sothatithadadefinitemeaningfromtheverybeginningofitsuse?How,then,canatraditionallanguagecontainmeaninglesswords?Tobesure,originallyeveryword(exceptingrarecaseswhichweshallillustratelater)hadameaning.Inthecourseofhistoricaldevelopmentawordfrequentlychangeitsmeaning.Anditalshappensattimesthatawordlosesitsoldsensewithoutacquiringanewone.Itisthusthatapseudo-conceptarises.
"
What,now,is
themeaningof
a
wore!?
Whatstipulationsconcerning
r
wordmustbemadeinorderforittobesignificant?(Itdoesnot
matterforourinvestigationwhetherthesestipulationsareexplicitlylaiddown,asinthecaseofsomewordsandsymbolsofmodernscience,orwhethertheyhavebeentacitlyagreedupon,asisthecaseformostwordsoftraditionallanguage.)First,thesyntaxofthewordmustbefixed,Le.themodeofitsoccurrenceinthesimplestsentenceforminwhichitiscapableofoccurring;wecallthissentenceformits
elementarysentence.
Theelementarysentenceformfortheword"stone"e.g.is"xisastone";insentencesofthisformsomedesignationfromthecategoryofthingsoccupiestheplaceof"x,"e.g."thisdiamond,""thisapple."Secondly,foranelementarysentenceScontainingthewordananswermustbegiventhefollowingquestion,whichcanbeformulatedinvariousways:
.
(1.)WhatsentencesisS
deducible
from,andwhatsentencesarededuciblefromS?(2.)UnderwhatconditionsisSsupposedtobetrue,andunderwhatconditionsfalse?(3.)HowisStobe
verifee!?
(4.)Whatisthe
meaning
ofS?(1)isthecorrectformulation;formulation(2)accordswiththephraseologyoflogic,(3)withthephraseologyofthetheoryofknowledge,(4)withthatofphilosophy(phenomenology)
.
Wittgensteinhasassertedthat(2)expresseswhatphilosophersmeanby(4):themeaningofasentenceconsistsinitstruth-condition.((1)isthe"metalogical"formulation;itisplannedtogiveelsewhereadetailedexpositionofmetalogicasthetheoryofsyntaxandmeaning,Le.,relationsofdeducibilityInthecaseofmanywords,specificallyinthecaseoftheoverwhelmingmajorityofscientificwords,itispossibletospecifytheirmeaningbyreductiontootherwords("constitution,"definition).E.g."'arthropodes'areanimalswithsegmentedbodiesandjointe-
 
legs."Therebytheabove-mentionedquestionfortheelementarysentenceformoftheword"arthropode,"thatisforthesentenceform"thethingxisanarthropode,.isanswered:ithasbeenstipulatedthatasentenceofthisformisdeduciblefrompremisesoftheform"xisananimal,""xhasasegmentedbody,""xhasjointedlegs,"andthatconverselyeachofthesesentencesisdeduciblefromtheformersentence.Bymeansofthesestipulationsaboutdeducibility(inotherwords:aboutthetruth-condition,aboutthemethodofverification,aboutthemeaning)oftheelementarysentenceabout"arthrnpode"themeaningoftheword"arthropode"isfixed.Inthiswayeverywordofthelanguageisreducedtootherwordsandfinallytothewordswhichoccurintheso-called"observationsentences"or"protocolsentences."Itisthroughthisreductionthatthewordacquiresitsmeaning.Forourpurposeswemayignoreentirelythequestionconcerningthecontentandformoftheprimarysentences(protocolsentences)whichhasnotyetbeendefinitelysettled.Inthetheoryofknowledgeitiscustomarytosaythattheprimarysentencesreferto"thegiven";butthereisnounanimityonthequestionwhatitisthatisgiven.Attimesthepositionistakenthatsentencesaboutthegivenspeakofthesimplestqualitiesofsenseandfeeling(e.g."warm,""blue,""joy"andsoforth);othersinclinetotheviewthatbasicsentencesrefertototalexperiencesandsimilaritiesbetweenthem;astilldifferentviewhasitthateventhebasicsentencesspeakofthings.Rega"rdlessofthisdiversityofopinionitiscertainthatasequenceofwordshasameaningonlyifitsrelationsofdeducibilitytotheprotocolsentencesarefixed,whateverthecharacteristicsoftheprotocolsentencesmaybe;andsimilarly,thatawordissignificantonlyifthesentencesinwhichitmayoccurarereducibletoprotocolsentences.Sincethemeaningofawordisdeterminedbyitscriterionofapplication(inotherwords:bytherelationsofdeducibilityenteredintobyitselementarysentence-form,byitstruth-conditions,bythemethodofitsverification),thestipulationofthecriteriontakesawayone'sfreedomtodecidewhatonewishesto"mean"bytheword.Ithewordistoreceiveanexactmeaning,nothinglessthanthecriterionofapplicationmustbegiven;butonecannot,ontheotherhand,givemorethanthecriterionofapplication,forthelatterisasufficientdeterminationofmeaning.Themeaningisimplicitlycontainedinthecriterion;allthatremainstobedoneistomakethemeaningexplicit.Letussuppose,bywayofillustration,thatsomeoneinventedthenewword"teavy"andmaintainedthattherearethingswhichareteavyandthingswhicharenotteavy.Inordertolearnthemeaningofthisword,weaskhimaboutitscriterionofapplication:howisonetoascertaininaconcretecasewhetheragiventhingisteavyornot?Letussupposetobeginwiththatwegetnoanswerfromhim:therearenoempiricalsignsofteavyness,hesays.Inthatcasewewoulddenythelegitimacyofusingthisword.Ifthepersonwhousesthewordsaysthatallthesametherearethingswhichareteavyandtherearethingswhicharenotteavy,onlyitremainsfortheweak,finiteintellectofmananeternalsecretwhichthingsareteavyandwhicharenot,weshallregardthisas
emptyverbiage.Butperhapshewillassureusthathemeans,afterall,
.
somethingbytheword"teavy."Butfromthisweonlylearnthepsychologicalfactthatheassociatessomekindofimagesandfeelingswiththeword.TheworddoesnotacquireameaningthroughSUCh
~
ssociations.Ifnocriterionofapplicationforthewordisstipulated.thennothingisassertedbythesentencesinwhichitoccurs,theyare
butpseudo-statements.
"
Secondly,takethecasewhenwearegivenacriterionofapplicationforanewword,say"toovy";inparticular,letthesentence"thisthingistoovy"betrueifandonlyifthethingisquadrangular(Itisirrelevantinthiscontextwhetherthecriterionisexplicitlystatedorwhetherwederiveitbyobservingtheaffirmativeandthenegativeuses

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