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Carnap and Pseudoproblems

Carnap and Pseudoproblems

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Published by Gordon Fisher

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Published by: Gordon Fisher on Nov 28, 2006
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II. Carnap and Pseudoproblems
 Auch wir haben "Bedürfnisse des Gemüts" in der Philosophie, aber die gehen auf  Klarheit der Begriffe, Sauberkeit der Methoden, Verantwortlichkeit der Thesen, Leistung durch Zusammenarbeit, in die das Individuum sich einordnet.
Rudolf Carnap,
 Die logische Aufbau der Welt 
, 1928; epigraph in
 A Parting of theWays: Carnap, Cassirer and Heidegger 
, Michael Friedman, 2000
We too, have "emotional needs" in philosophy, but they are filled by clarity of concepts, precision of methods, responsible theses, achievement through cooperationin which each individual plays his part.
Rudolf Carnap,
The Logical Structure of the World 
, translated by Rolf A.George, 1967
1.1 At roughly the same time as Martin Heidegger was writing
Sein und Zeit 
,
 
Rudolf Carnap was writing
 Die logische Aufbau der Welt 
. A few years later, in an articlecalled "Überwindung der Metaphysik durch Logische Analyse der Sprache"(
 Erkenntnis II 
, 1932),Carnap used some passages from Heidegger's
Was ist Metaphysik?
as an example of the use by some philosophers of what he calledmetaphysical pseudo-statements. The article was translated into English by Arthur Pap with the title. "The Elimination of Metaphysics Through Logical Analysis of Language" (in
 Logical Positivism
(1959), edited by Alfred Ayer). The passages byHeidegger quoted by Carnap read in the translation by Pap:What is to be investigated is being only and --
nothing 
else; being alone and nothingfurther --
nothing 
; solely being, and beyond being --
nothing 
.
What about this Nothing?
. . .
 Does the Nothing exist only because the Not, i.e. the Negation, exists?
Or is it the other way around?
 Does Negation and the Not exist only because the Nothing exists?
. . . We assert :
the Nothing is prior to the Not and the Negation
. . . .Where do we seek the Nothing? How do we find the Nothing? . . . We know the Nothing . . .
 Anxiety reveals the Nothing 
. . . . That for which and because of whichwe were anxious, was 'really' -- nothing. Indeed : the Nothing itself -- as such -- was present. . . .
What about this Nothing? . . . The Nothing itself nothings
.
 
Carnap proposes to show that forming such alleged pseudo-statements becomes possible because of a
logical 
defect of language.1.2. In the translation of 
Was ist Metaphysik?
by David Farrell Krell which appears in
Martin Heidegger, Basic Writings
(1977), the passages quoted by Carnap read asfollows :What should be examined are beings only, and besides that -- nothing; beings alone,and further -- nothing; solely beings, and beyond that -- nothing. What about thisnothing? . . . Is the nothing given only because the "not", i.e., negation, is given? Or is it the other way around? Are negation and the "not" given only because the nothingis given? . . . We assert that the nothing is more original than the "not" and negation.. . . Where shall we seek the nothing? Where will we find the nothing? . . . we doknow the nothing . . . Anxiety reveals the nothing. . . . that in the face of which andfor which we were anxious was "really" -- nothing. Indeed: the nothing itself -- assuch -- was there. . . . How is it with the nothing? . . . The nothing itself nihilates.In the original German, from
Wegmarken
(1978, 2nd edition; 1st was 1967), the passages are :Erforscht werden soll nur das Seiende und sonst -- nichts; das Seiende allein undweiter -- nichts; das Seiende einzig and darüber hinaus -- nichts. Wie steht es umdieses Nichts? . . . Gibt es das Nichts nur, weil es das Nicht, d. h. die Verneinunggibt? Oder liegt es umgekehrt? Gibt es die Verneinung und das Nicht nur, weil es das Nichts gibt? . . . Wir behaupten das Nichts ist unsprünglicher als das Nicht und dieVerneinung. . . . wir kennen das Nichts . . . Die Angst offenbart das Nichts . . .wovor and worum wir uns ängsteten, war "eigentlich" -- nichts. In der Tat: das Nichtsselbst -- als solches -- war da. . . . Wie steht es um das Nichts? . . . Das Nichtsselbst nichtet.1.3. In German, "nothing" is
das Nichts
(noun) or 
nichts
(adverb), and
das Nicht 
(noun), translated by Krell as "the 'not' " correlates with
nicht 
, "not"
 
(adverbs).Heidegger indicates that he is using
das Nicht 
as a synonym for 
Verneinung 
,"negation", "saying no to", or (to coin a word) "not-ing" (not "noting", from
note
, but"not-ing", from
not 
), and presumably not as a synonym for 
Vernichtung 
, which can betranslated by "annihilation", "destruction", "extermination", etc., depending (as usual)on context. Not-ing is saying or thinking "not", as in "Heidegger is not here" or "Heidegger was not all there", or symbolically as in the logical formula ~(~p) = p,i.e., negation of negation of a proposition p gets us back to the proposition p westarted with. It will give some idea of one of the difficulties which arise in connectionwith terms of this sort can be seen by contrastinh how negation of negation (doublenegation) works in formal logic versus how it works in everyday English. Thestatement p = "He cannot do nothing" will, according to common usage, usually betaken to mean the same as q = "He cannot not do something", so let's try setting set p= q, where "=" translates as "has the same meaning as" (this assumes we have in mindsome meaning for "meaning"). (Actually, "He can't do nothing" often is taken tomean something more like "He
must 
do something", in which there has been a shift
 
from the modal "can" to the modal "must", but I will ignore this complication).Suppose now we try to construct English versions of the double negations of p and of q by extending the use and interpretation of the negation sign ~ as follows. Let'simagine moving the negation sign ~ from left to right through q, and whenever we getto a "not" in the English substitution for q, we erase the "not", and then stop using thesign ~ for that pass. Then for ~q, we get "He can not do something", by erasing thefirst "not" in "He cannot not do something". Applying the same rule again to ~q, weget ~(~q) = "He can do something". On the other, doing this for p, we get for ~p "Hecan do nothing", and for ~(~p) we get -- well, we get "He can do hing", and "hing" isnot an English word. Something has gone wrong. Several possible moves occur tome which might remedy this situation, but let this serve as a wake-up call toinvestigate how dealing with negations and nothings can lead to curious results. For example, we might argue that "hing" in English doesn't mean anything, so it meansnothing. But aside from this being a possibly irritating little joke, if we did this wewould get ~(~p) = "He can do nothing", so ~(~p) = ~p, To make matters even morecomplicated, in some contexts and some dialects in English, "He can't do nothing" iscustomarily taken to mean "He cannot do
anything 
". Also, the use of doublenegatives is different in different languages. In Spanish, for example, the doublenegative in "Él no puede hacer nada" translates as "He cannot do anything" in thesense of "He cannot act", not as the more literal "He cannot do nothing" in the senseof "He can (ought to, must) act".1.4. I note that in the English language, besides being used as an adverb or an(apparent) noun, the term "nothing" can also be classified as a pronoun, where it may be taken to
 stand for 
"no thing", as in one interpretation of "the dead feel nothing".Here we don't intend to say that the dead
 feel 
(or feel
 something 
), nor do we intend toname an entity
or a nonentity
that the dead feel. We may take it that here "nothing" isused as a noun-like word
in place of a noun
, i.e. as a
 pronoun
, and that the sentence"the dead feel nothing" means the same as the sentence "the dead do not feel".However, "nothing" might also be taken in some contexts as a
noun
or 
name
for, "nothing", where "no thing" is taken to mean "something other than a
thing 
", the term"thing" having been previous been restricted to refer to
 physical 
objects (defined insome way) or to
 phenomena
of some specified kind. I note in passing that "nothing"is sometimes used misleadingly to refer to the number (or numeral) zero, but whilethis involves another story Also "nothing" may be used as an adjective, as in "thatnothing statement", where "nothing" means something like "worthless". Or the term"nothing" may be used to mean "something that doesn't exist", as in "the primevalnothing", which might be used when talking about a
creation ex nihilo
, which means-- well, it means a
creation out of nothing 
.1.5. It appears to be easier in English translations than it is in the original German towonder if Heidegger is involved with a pun on the term "nothing", viz., merging"nothing" with "no-thing", i.e. "no thing", and with "not a
thing 
", and also with whatI have called
not-ing 
, negation. From this standpoint, it appears that Heidegger might be interpreted as saying something like this:
 Being 
(
Sein mit Temporalität 
) (or 
 
Is-ingness
as I have called it) is
different 
from
being 
and
beings
(
Seiende
,
Seiendes
,
Seienden
,
 
etc.), since
 Being 
is in no way an instance of the things or beings or kind of 

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