The Way the World Is Author(s): Nelson Goodman Source: The Review of Metaphysics, Vol. 14, No. 1 (Sep., 1960), pp.

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that forth the the of so are able to is relatively less relatively of of a the error systematic description a system Since has basic supposing mirrors or structure structure or primitive terms elements This paper was read at Princeton University in November. simplicity of the world achieve in describing it. Philosophers features of the world but we same reach as consists sometimes Introduction mistake features of discourse for of discourse. when linguomorphism This we tendency conceive even may the world as the the point comprised and names. the the tongue. no of a description in the the verbosity reflect features parallel to determine world. ought I suppose that before describing whether it is written the world in English we in English. confusion at the than of level the of is merely the sort isolated of the simplicity we I am speaking and sentences. just sometimes structure that the of is the the world suppose structure of of of the description. very carefully ought the typography. Coherence the is a characteristic question our account of is not of descriptions. a distortion to this According thinking. that happens simple description or asserts (and a coherent to be I have will appropriate heard this be description coherent. world: coherent. reductio maintains world is ad atomic of atomic absurdum a to objects corresponding to atomic facts corresponding blossoms when can an be occasional certain proper A sentences.51. philosopher if the only said in all unless line of that seriousness) the world simple. We seldom conclude that the subject a of words because true description of it does.THEWAY THEWORLD IS NELSON GOODMAN 1. 1 1955. 6 Apr 2013 09:54:22 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . whether And what not the we of the is the world call significant but whether it is. and This content downloaded from 142.1. has since been read at Harvard and Brandeis Universities.212 on Sat. But transparent dangerous veridical world. enough Obviously spelling. and that we to examine how the world is spelled.

1. In this paper. Yet we still find acute philosophers to a notion of absolutely under pressure resorting simple qualities or of those who avoid And most of the world thinking particles. questions. seemingly in effect. is a This main concern a more What me I want whenever to discuss I warn is not my is an uncomfortable the confusion against the arch enemy? anti-intellectualistic. philosophy?none upon I can hear the faithful utterly ventionalizations through to the world of one as it is.212 on Sat. and asking. that strange. the dangers of mistaking of the world. that's something saying just what a our are All all Science. along. This content downloaded from 142. the senses. we of corresponding 49 come to suppose easily atomic elements put in recent wrong than years the built and a graded hierarchy must consist that the world in similar No theory advocated fashion. through through through some all in media and these distort the way language. the mind. difference related between I shall us. that meanings and so accept the concealed absolutism and involved in maintaining the distinction between analytic of the more synthetic propositions. distortion We achieve each introduces part a really faithful portrayal the words Can't of the way the the world is. we be obscurantist. I am not just been stressing for but even touched concerned with but with any general certain recurrent here. truth. as into absolute still divisible elements suppose uniquely commonly do resolve thus uniquely." Here repeating ence between speaks my own us? Bergsonian. you sorry travesty. together seems more first-rate obviously by philosophers picture theory of language. abstractions all filter the or con world that feeling in question. the differ "What's to I am willing friends?" Before admit that philosophy must make make But a determined I shall begin effort to formulate some by discussing alliances the preliminary. issues I have specific question. comes features this upon. however. features theme I have of discourse with me.51. concepts. mystic?my like this: I've been telling "Yes. descriptions can ever of these be language. filtering a It is not just that each gives but that world. 6 Apr 2013 09:54:22 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . kind or All make another. perception. partial only never even in of its own.THEWAY THEWORLD IS out of these.

the grace the of their debates rephrase or But issue in terms of "ground-elements" "protocol-sentences. places. duplicated analysis we find given intermediate pluralisms of the to which of metaphysics. manufactured. pieces. Let's not differ look But which view of the given more is right? The several or what all the views can contains do be at the question is contained about what A certain visual closely. has sound slightly musty a little self-conscious have become about the futility philosophers over to and have the given. monism. primary." in one way the original. to say this is to make our experience at a given moment. But and the actual given. In order he says. qualitative along leaving spatial are big in so that our elements each containing everything lumps. designs. implies.51. analysis subject what initially or out all divisions boundaries. but of one single lumps. etc. least perceptible This content downloaded from 142. epistemologically we must the of any results all leave out of ordinary experience we we to which This means receive. that the processes rather supposed that have consists of minimal therefore and that the given particles consists not of these big to be combined hold that both with these one views another are in knowing. in the Aufbau stream. Thus and synthesis the atomism.1. in views and the Still and other thinkers is that the world both this seems Offhand.50 NELSON GOODMAN 2. Carnap temporal easy enough. 6 Apr 2013 09:54:22 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . it is given the way a these days. too extreme. to require the ground Carnap wanted as possible to be as nearly to arrive at these. Perhaps we The Way the World is Given the world The is by of question Even hardened examining the given some on the way can gain light to us in experience. . found certain there. presentation.212 on Sat. material into or another basic. we bare a good to down deal about getting from which all knowledge is elements as raw a of is tacitly conceived processing hear and an that we of knowl understanding the discover just what Knowing a finished supposed is. all processes of knowing philosophers are all processes of synthesis. artificial divisions. in the given. is thus edge raw material product. assumes at the given that the processes But this way of arriving have are Other of analysis. colors. it contains agree. of his elements system familiar medium-size in more given are applied.

212 on Sat. of degrees in representing the way the can learn a from this we back and less realistic. then surely of realism. and pictures become progressively photograph. particles? discloses IS The 51 is not whether the given question or contains it is many lump tiny parts. to finding of the given. into thin air.51. particles is a single undifferentiated a whole but many same how comprised it is given. and quite This content downloaded from 142.1. Perhaps we seen. best. a or a feeling of meaning So I am afraid we can get no light on the way the way about asking it is given evaporates For it is given. pictorial approach sees it. The most picture deal about of distortion. they depart nearest The way we see the world the ard. This version to the way the world the camera is. to the question turns at all. or is it as a single whole as Is it given given at the This captures issue?and the precise I do not think For its emptiness. any sense can be made as. as is not to come a kind of feeling of wholeness that near enough to finding to count. or as more from this stand conventionalized abstract. partitioned if For lines of demarcation. they are there within come we could The nearest what the world the material as is given in question for given would any meaning be to say that this To come near on whether is apprehended with broken-upness. of to their approximate rate pictures degree easily according quite a one most like color is the realistic realism. 6 Apr 2013 09:54:22 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . is." of the phrase That an experience is given "given mean are as several parts not that these does parts presented surely are nor can it mean that these parts torn asunder. our for only We ideas about pictures consider need everyday a moment to recognize For we this as an encouraging approach.THEWAY THEWORLD and it is a whole. is the way of the whole matter is simple. straightforward. the question the world about is by the way 3. picturing absence world good If we the The Way the World is to be Seen is best or shall get further by asking how the world some confidence their grade ways of to according of faithfulness can with world seeing by reading the way the world is. The issue is not what is given of such parts. off from one another by perceptible small time such lines of demarcation for any view are there the given.

or the one by or the one Manet Holbein by by by Durer ent way 'distortion' something of the photo or unfamiliar styles of of a man?the Sharaku or one the one or the one or the one by C?zanne Each differ by Picasso? a each of seeing.51. everywhere the view described every silver has every me. the a generally lining thing in its favor except that it is. then I normally the way do we call such properly see photograph taking fulness. it depends perform J. general to of new distortion the is comparable graph more faithful the is Which portrait painting.212 on Sat. of example important. has a big a But black in philosophy cloud?and as NELSON GOODMAN else. quite wrong. B. it 'realistic' picture. If I take feet may or come photograph out as large the man? of a man as his If with his Is this why as my feet towards torso. our resistance to new resistance in the or exotic ways of normal to retraining. view then I can no longer claim to be standard of faith the photographic of the world The fact of the matter our in attention the way new to something that it differs facts and is that this 'distorted' photograph about from seeing an ordinary in visual trivial The that we had calls Just ignored. from it new ways and they learned What is less art to realized that often the is is discoveryof European exciting a new the African for the same reason. What of the is an activity our training. in large part upon he happened that once when of the in the reflected glare sculptor are merely brought different depict saw faces. the other Thus the hand lethargic the excitement lies art thrilled of African French painters discovery to see and paint. or a a make African would quite Japanese that most asked to select the pictures closely sort of us. from pictures are unfortunately. I think. of new acquisition regard that most as the most what Indeed our painting and on skill. Neumann saying faces of a movie audience realized how realistic an African to see screen we he first pictures An up on. different of painting way represents of each uses its own vocabulary its selection. so.1.52 held. distorted? If not. makes we at the pictures And look hard conventionalization. him it shows sculptor This content downloaded from 142. But the reveals 'distorted' much more photograph and possibilities is a rather experience. choice when he stems sees. its emphasis. need only by any such artist to come to see and the world the way I remember the in somewhat we the same For seeing way. 6 Apr 2013 09:54:22 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .

realistic of the rest can lay any good claim to be the way of seeing or picturing the world 4. is to be Described version of the question Does to be described? of the what The Way now is.51. fact that to notice the obvious as different the same shock whenever slight "it is rain the sentence disparity Luckily. modifies accordingly. concern with the ourselves need not here sort of the nature true we can confine our of truth. artistic leads always is of the African deterioration is that social reasons. seeing. in results often African of while absorption European fortunately. the World familiar We way come to a more How the world is the world we call a true description Most is raining" of us have is true faithfully depict the world? that "it remark statement in our ears Tarski's ringing as well as his if and only if it is raining. The the French usually second no doubt Mediaeval is rather artist was influenced on calendar sculpture was fed art. none are even still or all latter if the But blurred. This content downloaded from 142. have been the results radically instead. intriguing. might the African different. and picturing effective. matter technical to admittedly as possible This from the rainstorm. almost of European African an artistic advance. banal.THEWAY THEWORLD way of IS 53 Un his work and he. are or others dull. 6 Apr 2013 09:54:22 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . weak. (I think acceptance erroneous. we must face is What descriptions. the way it is. The first simultaneous reason with the more the best introduction intriguing: of African of European that while art. of this but formula that is beside This way the point acceptance here) of a that corre constitutes spondence theory a natural of truth. are many and various. The upshot of all this is that we cannot find out much about the way the world is by asking about the best or most faithful or most it. For the ways of seeing way of seeing or picturing some are strong. style adoption is for incidental this But to deterioration. for a true as for a false description. useful. too. by and Had he seen Greek art and pin-up girls. difficult attention is of we therefore.212 on Sat. foolish. excluded.1. But I am digressing. tendency of putting in terms a the matter of mirror encourages or faithful ing we to think of truth happen is about ing" and we have reproduction. sensitive.

descrip we artificial should then make order. an arbitrary that if systematic therefore. saying. true description in terms or true by what we or is un complaint to the world given distorts of some of significance of But to faithfulness. Some philosophers tions our introduce the way as I noted of the world. NELSON GOODMAN description the world nowhere near faith reproducing A systematic more vulnerable of construction. Is then. We come now The Way the World : what. to bring them more into accord with here are is that just the respects respects in in those descriptions unsystematic Now the tacit the world. of the world described. according between faithfulness if we say that in terms of grading a difference and good descriptions all true descriptions and good pictures This content downloaded from 142.. description to this charge.212 on Sat. is given nor any way of seeing to us the way the world is. is the way the to the question world It looks is? Am I still threatened with the friendship of my enemies? the mystic's the world is. idea the selection. is even earlier. for I have very much just reached conclusion that there is no representation of the way seems on the surface But if our accord to have been second look will have been The faithful descriptions in degree pictures. reinforced. to the vehicle. or picturing or describing it conveys 5. less peculiar The language. is a delusive For we way amounts of picturing In painting. of making loses its point the most than descriptions understand faithful exchanging Thus neither picture possible some conventions the way the world approximate pictorial depiction that to turn a description into more to nothing amount would for others.1. even kind it falls short of being a faithful picture. than from those but of the most of conventionalization. description the goal realistic and the tacit goal a living gives seen that have merely no to one is to achieve as possible nearly one. none of them features contend. show how that has a it has been undermined.51. etc. for it has explicit routes primitives. the conventions and no verbal when we emphasis. a description a But which assumption is unsatisfactory that as which likeness.54 the fully fact that even the truest comes is. the are different less variable. 6 Apr 2013 09:54:22 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . a that way.

1. way question am I rather with Since the ways concerned the world response answer the ways must be to construct one to the question "What the world is?" is not is and to the silence. is. I should have to For there are many "none. But we have since I began by dropping do this either. my The are or many descriptions. but a chatter. one of them. what picture was I declared it describes." answer. and so of course no description can capture it. goodness true of different the world. I spoke of the obvious falsity language. be must.51. But there are many ways the world difference and every true description captures me friend and between my is. but each the way of them tells us a way If I were answer what asked what is the food for men. Near the beginning of the picture a description the structure the picture theory does not of what of of Postscript of this paper. that they of these also all involve different true. in sum.THEWAY THEWORLD are unfaithful. equally relative faithfulness us any clear notion the idea that there tests IS then in terms of what We sample have no be. is not captured the world is and that this way by any description. must is the way the world I For likewise "none. The rather that smugly or even represent it describes.212 on Sat. his ultimate response as of the the world is he recognizes. 6 Apr 2013 09:54:22 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . For me. is exclusively descriptions of them tells us is. or standard 55 of are we of what is some speaking? faithfulness test of realism would longer Thus before or faithfulness I reject in addition are and we are true. descriptions equally is the only standard And when of their faithfulness." And if I am asked foods. is. there is no way which is the way the world is. the to the very many their truth say of of pictorial There and descriptive truth. the world is many The mystic holds that there is some way ways. between absolutism and relativism. the enormous The difference Since the mystic is concerned with the way the world cannot finds that the way be expressed. is the way the world is? What a shush. is. the world we them that no one saying are since the others world is. This content downloaded from 142. None conventionalizations. language forth the world doesn't represent observed theory or mirror that a picture against devastating charge a description cannot that as it is. 6.

or in other words. You as and ended the NELSON GOODMAN language on language not conform to there is no the by adopting picture theory of a description does But I then concluded the world for that of that of say might theory as of true and the picture language theory pictures. of is false is not the picture that what theory a both notion but certain absolutistic concerning pictures language seems what that I shall learn and language.212 on Sat. as the structure to. Perhaps eventually most isn't. theory the ground that the structure the such or structure of the world.56 the picture theory of language I rejected of pictures.51. 6 Apr 2013 09:54:22 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . false sometimes obviously is as false University of Pennsylvania.1. thing fail to conform of anything the picture to conform This content downloaded from 142.

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