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The damnation of Renee Descartes (Renatus Carthesius in Latin, died in 164) – the American philosophy started by denouncing his philosophy. He was considered the first modern philosopher. All the basic premises of Cartesian philosophy were rejected. The first thesis of his rejected was the thesis of the separation between faculties of knowledge. According to Descartes, for instance the activity of our sensibility (a faculty of knowledge) is completely separate/distinct form the activity of reason or of our intellect. In modern philosophy there are 3 main faculties of knowledge; sensibility, imagination and intellect/reason, through which we can know something. Sensibility works through our senses, the imagination works through representations and reason works through concepts/ideas/thoughts. This distinction between faculties was rejected. American philosophers considered that we can have no genuine knowledge according to this division. In other words, we can have no genuine knowledge about an object by separating our sensibility towards it from the intellect. There are no distinctions between these. Another thesis rejected was his distinction between body and mind. American philosophers considered that the body and the mind are organically connected and cannot be separated. Descartes said that experiencing a physical contact is a part of how our body works and has nothing to do with our mind. (pain for example) Our mind simply operates on our sensation. Descartes didn‘t genuinely think body was separated from the mind. To have the consciousness of humans allows experiencing the pain and understanding it in the same time with our brains. Americans thought that experiencing the pain and understanding it is one and the same act which happen simultaneously. They considered that this separation is artificial, with no validity in practice, only theoretical. 2. The naturalization of the spirit: in classical tradition, Metaphysics – separation between the spiritual worlds and the world of experience stood at the basis of metaphysics. Americans rejected all this tradition in metaphysics/ the metaphysical tradition. They considered it to be highly speculative, fiction. American philosophers considered that for a better understanding of what is spiritual, it is necessary to naturalize values and ideas – to put them to work. What is spiritual should be manifested in nature, manifesting experience. These ideas have no value when approached abstractly – theoretically. Their essential meaning is exactly their role in experience. There is no form without content – so they rejected the existence of the spiritual world SEPARATELY from the natural world. 3. The mentalization of nature: European philosophy (Hegel, Plato, Aristotle, Plotin, Augustine, St. Thomas, Descartes, Kant) considered that nature is of a minor value for the mind. Nature is nothing else than the domain of our experiences. In other words, it has a poor rational significance (or spiritual significance). That is what for instance the transcendentalists contested (R.W. Emerson). Emerson considered that nature is essentially spiritual. Its role for our life is not minor as European philosophers considered, but our experiences are the very condition for a better understanding of ourselves. This was commonly the opinion of
classical American philosophers. Nature has a spiritual value and is not simply the domain of our experience. This means the mentalization of nature – considering nature from a spiritual standpoint. 4. The focus on processes instead of substances: in European tradition our existence, God, truth, the good, beauty – all of these are substances (something existing in and by itself). For instance (in Plato) a beautiful woman is the instantiation in reality of the abstract substance of beauty which lives independently in our soul – thus our souls have the capacity of recognizing something beautiful when seeing it, because beauty is implanted in our soul. Our soul is co-generated with the forms of truth, beauty or good. That‘s why substances exist by themselves. American philosophers considered that operating or using substances is irrelevant/of no use for our experience. They questioned the meaning of the Platonic idea that forms are imprinted in our souls. Instead of using substances, what‘s relevant is to see how for instance the idea of truth works in experience – how is it possible for something to become true. They contested the idea that there are essential and eternal truths. Instead they considered that what is true is a process – it BECOMES true. They insisted on the process of something becoming true. 5. The substitution of yesterday with tomorrow: in European tradition what was meaningful was related to accomplishments of the past. European philosophers considered that to know something is equivalent with knowing the past of that something. American philosophers didn‘t deny the role of the past, but they put an accent on the role of the future. Namely, something is meaningful only if it is relevant for future experiences. 6. Thought is not a substance, but something revealing a certain goal/something oriented towards results: in European tradition, thought was important because it was the only way of understanding what happened through concepts/ideas. Americans rejected the idea that theories and concepts alone are sufficient for explaining the true meaning of our experience. They considered that the most important role of our thought is that of changing the world not that of understanding it – of transforming reality. 7. The importance of language: in European tradition, the meaning of our statements was established in terms of a correspondence between our ideas and facts, so that language was of a minor importance – it didn‘t really matter how you said it or what language you say it in. what‘s important is the accuracy of our ideas in confrontation with facts. American philosophers considered that language is central in experience, because they considered ideas to be abstract, they thought that there was no way of verifying the presupposed correspondence between ideas and facts – so that language became contextual/essential in the way in which understand and communicate experiences or facts. 8. Science is no more a singular and contemplative accomplishment but a cooperative one : science was no longer conceived as a purely singular activity but a cooperative one. Example: Newton constructed his world according to his own rationality,
following certain laws and axioms. His mechanics was a result of his solitary thinking upon what are the laws governing nature and our experience. According to Americans, the progress of science and technology in late modernity makes it impossible for a solitary mind to conceive and to explain the entire experience. That‘s why science is or should be conceived as a cooperative investigation - a collaboration of scholars, researchers. The simplistic mechanicism of the world according to Newton was no longer sufficient to explain the realities of our contemporary world. Thus science is not the product of a single mind nor the prerogative, it cannot explain the mysteries of the world. 9. The primacy of method: our knowledge was founded, according to the European tradition, upon speculative theories/sets of concepts constructed by the mind. According to Americans, in the absence of a specified methodology of research there is no possibility of achieving theoretical results. So method is not only desirable, but also necessary. Their question was: how do you achieve your results? That‘s why they insisted on the role of experiments, testing our theoretical assumptions according to a transparent methodology. 10. Science can no longer be separated from society: science is not abstract, no longer independent of the world. The meanings of our scientific results should be tested in order to get to their validation. Science is no longer speculative, but applicative. That‘s why probably the most developed sciences and most popular ones are ―applied sciences‖. Namely, sciences that prove their resu lts in experience. 11. The substitution of the individual with the community: in the European tradition the center of our universe was the individual. Men and women were conceived generically under the label; they didn‘t speak about distinct human habitudes, they spoke instea d of how generically the human mind works. Americans, starting in the 2nd half of the 19th century, started to abandon the idea of the central importance of the individual and to stress upon the importance of communities of individuals. Because they didn‘t think that the human potentialities are the same. They are different from a culture to another, from a period of time to another, etc. It is better to think about individuals as parts of communities. The concept of the individual by itself cannot tell something relevant about the world we live in. so individuals should not be conceived isolated but living in communities. This assumption had a decisive role in the development of philosophy, behavioral sciences, etc. TEMA 2:
General considerations on the philosophy of Ch. Peirce
Charles S. Peirce , some-times called the founder of pragmatism, was influenced by Kant and Hegel. Peirce considered that problems, including those of metaphysics, could be solved if one gave careful attention to the practical conse-quences of adherence to various ideas. Pragmatism is sometimes said to have originated in 1878, when Peirce published the article ―How
To Make Our Ideas Clear.‖ The philosophical writings of Peirce consist of essays and manuscripts, many of which are fragmentary or incomplete. Although he never wrote a book in philosophy or organized his thoughts into systematic or final form, his liter-ary activity covered many years. With the publi-cation of his papers in recent decades, interest in Peirce‘s philosophy is increasing, and he is com-ing to be recognized as an intellectual genius of outstanding originality. He was the rare combi-nation of a natural scientist with a ―laboratory habit of mind,‖ a careful student of philosophy, and a man with strong moral convictions. He is sometimes referred to as a philosopher‘s philos-opher, rather than a public or popular philoso-pher, such as James. Peirce was primarily a logician concerned with the more technical problems of logic and epistemology, and the methods of the laboratory sciences. He was interested in deductive systems, methodology in the empirical sciences, and the philosophy behind the various methods and techniques. His logic included a theory of signs and symbols, a field in which he did pioneer work. He viewed logic as a means of communi-cation and a cooperative or public venture. His approach was to invite critical examination and seek aid from others in a continuous quest for the clarification of ideas. Peirce wished to estab-lish philosophy on a scientific basis and to treat theories as working hypotheses. He called his ap-proach pragmaticism. One of Peirce‘s main contributions to phi-losophy is his theory of meaning. He coined the word pragmatism from the Greek word pragma (―act‖ or ―deed‖) to emphasize the fact that words derive their meanings from actions. He set forth one of the first modern theories of mean-ing by proposing a technique for the clarification of ideas. The meaning of many ideas, Peirce said, is best discovered by putting them to an experi-mental test and observing the results. His crite-rion of meaningfulness was to appeal to the way an object would behave if it had a certain charac-ter or were of a certain kind. If an object were ―hard‖ it would scratch other objects; if it were ―volatile,‖ it would evaporate rapidly, and the like. Peirce argued that thinking always occurs in a context, not in isolation. Meanings are derived not by intuition but by experience or experi-ment. For these reasons, meanings are not indi-vidual or private but are social and public. If there is no way of testing an idea by its effects or public consequences, it is meaningless. To be able to distinguish between meaningful and meaningless is particularly important, Peirce thought, when you are considering opposing systems of thought. Peirce‘s empiricism is intellectualistic rather than voluntaristic; that is, emphasis is on the intellect and understanding rather than on will and activity. The irritation of doubt leads to the struggle to attain belief. The end of this inquiry, which aims to dispel doubt, is knowledge. Thus he does not stress sensation or volition as much as do later forms of popular pragmatism. Peirce is critical of positivism and mechanistic deter-minism, on the one hand, and intuitionism and a priori principles, on the other hand. Although he shares some of the positivists‘ views, he does not share with them the idea that empiricism re-quires a denial of the possibility of metaphysics. In the field of metaphysics as well as in all other areas of discourse, we must avoid the belief that we have attained finality. Peirce supports ―falli -bilism‖; even the most intelligent people are apt to be mistaken. Progressive inquiry leads to constant modification. There is chance (tychism) because, Peirce maintained, although nature be-haves in a lawlike way, that regularity is never ex-act. Chance, as well as habit, plays a real part in the occurrence of events in the world. Fallibilism and an open future replace skepticism and abso-lutism, and pragmatism replaces fixed systems of belief in philosophy and in science. Although Peirce gave his major attention to logic and methodology, his writings make clear that he left a place for an evolutionary idealism that stresses the need for a principle of love opposed to any narrow individualism in human affairs.
TEMA 3: William
James's pragmatism as radical empiricism
James defines the term radical empiricism this way: ―I say ‗empiricism‘ because it is contented to regard its most assured conclusions concern-ing matters of fact as hypotheses liable to modi-fication in the course of future experience. James includes relations, such as greater than, among the latter (directly experienced) elements. Pragmatism, as we have seen, is the practice of looking toward results and facts instead of to-ward first principles and categories. It accepts the experiences and facts of everyday life as fun-damental. Reality is just what it is experienced as being—flux or change. Because experience is fragmentary, pragmatists find things partly joined and partly disjoined, and accept them as they are. Consequently, they insist that reality is pluralistic rather than monistic or dualistic. There is the given—the data of the senses— which is brought in as stimuli from the region beyond us. Added to this is the interpretative element, which the conscious being supplies. The creative whole of experience, which in-cludes both the given and the interpretative el-ement, is the one reality we know. Knowledge is thus based directly on sense perception, or ex-perience, which constitutes the continuous, flowing stream of consciousness. James theory of truth William James said, ―Truth happens to an idea.‖ What was so startling about this statement was that the more traditional theo ries of truth took virtually the opposite view—namely, that truth was a fixed or static relation. When James exam-ined the traditional theories of truth, he de-manded to know what ―truth‖ means in opera-tion. Truth must be the cash value of an idea. What other motive could there be for saying that something is true or not than to provide guides for practical behavior? James would ask, ―What concrete difference will it make in life?‖ ―A dif-ference that makes no difference is no differ-ence,‖ but only a matter of words. An idea be-comes true or is made true by events. An idea is true if it works or if it has satisfactory conse-quences. Truth is relative; it also grows. The true is ―the expedient in the way of our thinking,‖ just as the right is ―the expedient in the way of our behaving.‖ Ideas, doctrines, and theories be-come instruments to help us meet life situations; doctrines are not answers to riddles. A theory is created to suit some human purpose, and the only satisfactory criterion of the truth of a theory is that it leads to beneficial results. Workability, satisfactions, consequences, and results are the key words in the pragmatic conception of truth.
Pragmatic view on morality
Within James‘s view, morality, like truth, is not fixed but grows out of present life situations. The source and authority fo r beliefs and conduct are found in human experience. The good is that which makes for a more satisfactory life; the evil is that which tends to destroy life. James was a strong defender of moral freedom and indeter-minism; he believed that determinism is an in-tellectualistic falsification of experience. He sup-ported the doctrine of meliorism, which holds that the world is neither completely evil nor com-pletely good but is capable of being improved. Human effort to improve the world is worth-while and fruitful, and the trend of biological and social evolution is toward such improvement.
The will to believe
James devoted considerable attention to reli-gion. The doctrines of pluralism and meliorism, as well as the doctrine of the will to believe, all contributed to his views of religion and of God. He acknowledged later that ―the will to believe‖ might have been called ―the right to believe.‖ Let us consider first James‘s doctrine of the will to believe. We have pointed out that radical empiricism ceases to look beyond experience for supposed necessities and metaphysical entities and stresses the present stream of consciousness. Consciousness displays interest, desire, and attention; it is volitional as well as sensory, and the will rather than the intellect is determinative. The will determines how and what we expe-rience; thus thinking is empirically secondary to willing. What is selected and emphasized is thereby made vital and real; thus, the world we experience is largely of our own making. As with our sensory perceptions, so with our ideas. Those ideas that interest us and engage our attention tend to exclude others and to dominate the scene; and these ideas tend to find expression in our actions. In life, individuals have to make numerous decisions. How are they to make these decisions and formulate their beliefs? In some situations the evidence is reasonably certain and clear, and in these circumstances they need to act in accordance with the evidence. In other situations, in which a choice between the proposed lines of action either is not forced or is trivial, they can postpone their decisions or even refrain from choosing at all. There are still other situations, however, in which individuals facing some crucial issue must choose and act, because failure to decide will commit them to one of the alternatives. If such issues are living, forced, and momentous, people need to act even though they do not have all the evidence on the basis of which they would like to make their decisions. James‘ doctrine of the will to believe applies to this third type of situation, where some decision is demanded by the structure of the situation. For example, shall I marry this woman (or man) or shall I wait until I know for certain how the marriage will turn out? I cannot know for certain that the marriage will be harmonious and suc-cessful. All the facts are not known and I cannot wait until all the evidence is in, yet the issue is liv-ing, forced, and momentous. To fail to act is in itself a decision—not to marry this person at this time. When the will to believe leads to decision and action, it leads to discovery and conviction, or to truth and value simply through the fact that the will exists. Life‘s values are empirical and are found and tested in t he process of living. According to James, in many of life‘s experi-ences, we have contact with a ―More.‖ We feel that which is sympathetic and gives us ―sup -port.‖ We rely on it in worship and in prayer. This sense of the ―More‖ brings comfort, happi -ness, and peace; furthermore, it is an almost uni-versal experience. In the religious sense, God is the name of this ideal tendency or encompassing support in human experience. James, as we have seen, was impressed by the novelty, freedom, individuality, and diversity in-herent in our world. Consequently, he insisted that God is finite. There are real possibilities for evil as well as for good in our world; no good, all-powerful God could have created the world as we know it. God is, however, moral and friendly, and we can cooperate with God in cre-ating a better world. TEMA 4:
Pragmatic view on democracy in J. Dewey
The continued growth and strength of prag-matism can be attributed to John Dewey‘s (see biography and ex-cerpt, pp. 296–297) prolific writings and his application of the principles of the movement to all phases of life and thought. Dewey achieved prominence in logic, epistemology, ethics, aes-thetics, and political, economic, and educational philosophies. For Dewey and his many followers, the term instrumentalism is preferred to the term pragmatism, but both are used. Dewey was a keen and a constant critic of the classical or traditional types of philosophies, with their search for ultimate reality and their at-tempt to find the immutable. Such philosophies, Dewey claimed, attempt to minimize or tran-scend human experience. In The Quest for Cer-tainty, Dewey
says that we have used two meth-ods to escape dangers and gain security. One is to appease or conciliate the powers around us by ceremonial rites, sacrifices, supplication, and so on. The second is to invent tools to control the forces of nature to our advantage. This is the way of science, industry, and the arts, and it is the way Dewey approves. The aim of philosophy is the better organization of human life and activ-ity here and now. Interest thus shifts from tradi-tional metaphysical problems to the methods, at-titudes, and techniques for scientific and social progress. The method is that of experimental in-quiry as guided by empirical research in the area of values. Experience is one of the key words in Dewey‘s pragmatic theory. Dewey‘s philosophy is of and for daily experience. In his essay ―The Need for a Recovery of Philosophy,‖ Dewey sets down his criticisms of the traditional or inherited view of experience as found in empiricism and offers a substitute interpretation. The orthodox empiri-cal view regards experience primarily as a knowl-edge affair (see Chapter 9). Dewey prefers to see 7 experience as ―an affair of the intercourse of a living being with its social and physical environ-ment.‖ Experience for Dewey is primarily experimental and is not tied to what has been or what is ―given‖; experience involves an effort to change the given by reaching forward into the unknown. Dewey refuses to attempt to tran-scend human experience or to believe that any-one else has ever succeeded in doing so. In the past, philosophers attempted to discover some ―theoretical superexperience‖ on the basis of which they might build a secure and meaningful life. Dewey insists that ―experience is not a veil that shuts man off from nature‖; it is the only means we have of penetrating further i nto the se-crets of nature. This present world of men and women, of fields and factories, of plants and animals, of bustling cities and struggling nations, is the world of our experience. We should try to understand it and then attempt to construct a society in which all can grow in freedom and intelligence. Dewey takes evolution, relativity, and the time process seriously. The world is in the mak-ing; it is constantly moving forward. This view of the world stands in marked contrast to that of a fixed and permanent reality, which dominated Greek and medieval thinking and has character-ized many areas of modern science. Dewey was born in 1859, the year Darwin published Origin of Species. Not since Aristotle has any philosopher built his or her thought so completely on biological foundations. The vi-sion of human beings as always changing and de-veloping in the midst of an environment that fosters and at the same time threatens their lives was decisive for Dewey. Organism and environ-ment, development and struggle, precariousness and stability—these are the basic elements that humans face. Dewey put these elements together in the unifying idea of experience. According to Dewey, we live in an unfin-ished world. Dewey‘s attitude can best be un-derstood by an examination of three aspects of what we call his instrumentalism. First, the no-tion of temporalism means that there is real movement and progress in time. We can no longer hold a spectator view of reality. Our knowledge does not merely mirror the world; it reshapes and changes it. Second, the notion of futurism bids us to look mainly to the future and not to the past. The future, which is growing out of the past, will not be a repetition but will be in some sense novel. Third, meliorism is the view that the world can be made better by our efforts, a view also held by William James. Basic to Dewey‘s philosophy is the instrumental theory of ideas, the use of intelligence as a method. Thinking is biological; it is concerned with the adjustment between an organism and its environment. All thinking and all concepts, doctrines, logics, and philosophies are, in Dewey‘s words, part of the ―protective equip-ment of the race in its struggle for existence.‖ Reflective thinking occurs when we face a problem or when our habits are blocked in par-ticular crises. Intelligence is an instrument for the individual or society to gain some goal. There is no separate ―mind stuff ‖ gifted with a faculty for thinking. Mind is manifested in ou r capacity to respond to what is doubtful or prob-lematic in experience. Knowing and acting are continuous. Knowing occurs within nature, and sensory and rational factors cease to be competi-tors and are both parts of a unifying process. Ideas are plans of action. Scientific theories, like other tools and instruments, are created by us in pursuit of particular interests and goals. The aim of thinking is to remake experienced reality through the use of experimental
techniques. According to Dewey‘s pragmatic outlook, hu-mans and nature always are interdependent. We are not part body and part mind; we are natural-ized within nature, and nature is so interpreted as to take account of us. Nature in humans is na-ture grown intelligent. Nature is neither rational nor irrational; it is intelligible and understand-able. Nature is not something merely to be ac-cepted and enjoyed; it is something to be modified and experimentally controlled. Dewey and the modern instrumentalists have been staunch defenders of freedom and de-mocracy. Dewey was a defender of moral free-dom—or freedom of choice—of intellectual freedom, and of the political and civil liberties, including freedom of speech, of press, and of as-sembly. He advocated an extension of the demo-cratic principles in the political and social realms to all races and classes. Nothing is more important than education in remolding a society. If we are creatures of habit, education should provide the conditions for developing our most useful and creative habits. Instead of some catastrophic upheaval, such as a revolution, changing the habits of a culture, ed-ucation can provide a more controlled approach to change. Instead of revolution, Dewey believed that those habits may be altered by educAtion, but education of the sort that is available to every man in every walk of life. Thus he believed in universal education, which should extend over the entire culture and penetrate to its founda-tions. The demand that education be universal is bound up with Dewey‘s conviction that there is a need to find a way to reorient society as a whole. The spirit of education should be experi-mental. The mind is basically a problem-solving instrument and needs to try alternative means for solving problems. However, Dewey never said that education ought simply to cater to the needs and whims of the child. In one of his ear-liest writings on education, The Child and the Curriculum, he criticizes the child-oriented the-ory of education by noting that it contains an empty concept of development. Children are ex-pected to ―work things out for themselves‖ without receiving proper guidance. According to Dewey, advocating complete freedom for the child ―reflects a sentimental idealization of the child‘s naive caprices and performances‖ and in-evitably results in 8 ―indulgence and spoiling.‖ When unlimited free expression is allowed, chil-dren ―gradually tend to become listless and fi-nally bored.‖ Dewey argues instead for the ne-cessity of deliberate guidance, direction, and order. Education is, or ought to be, systematic and ordered, and thus the intelligent guidance of the teacher is necessary. Dewey insisted that there be clear objec-tives in promoting the art of critical thinking. Dewey and many of his supporters reject all supernaturalism and ground both ethical and re-ligious values solely in the natural relations of humans. The values of life are capable of verifi-cation by the methods through which other facts are established. Dewey was critical of the traditional institu-tional church, with its stress on fixed ritual and authoritarian dogma. He uses the adjective reli-gious to describe those values through which one‘s personality is integrated and enriched. Thus any activity pursued on behalf of an ideal, because of an abiding conviction of its genuine value, is religious. The term God may be used if it refers to the unity of all ideal ends in their ten-dency to arouse us to desire and action.
R. Rorty's neopragmatism
Neopragmatism, sometimes called linguistic pragmatism is a recent philosophical term for philosophy that reintroduces many concepts from pragmatism. Neopragmatism is defined as: A postmodern version of pragmatism developed by the American philosopher Richard Rorty and drawing inspiration from John Dewey.
Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature.Much of Rorty's philosophy is directed against various 'traditional' assumptions: that the mind 'mirrors' nature, and that it is possible to discover by means of 'pure', non-empirical methods real essences, 'foundations' of epistemology, absolute values, meanings, a human nature, and the like; that our perceptions, images, ideas are accurate representations of reality, and that true propositions in some way 'correspond' to that reality . Previous philosophers, he says, have been unable to justify their claims, or to provide criteria for distinguishing between genuine and false representations. He is therefore critical of all kinds of a priori metaphysics, such as Platonism, rationalism, Kantian transcendentalism, though he recognises that many philosophers belonging to these traditions have nevertheless attempted to jettison the metaphor of mirroring. In his rejection of all kinds of realism he is also critical of linguistic/ analytic philosophy — which he himself had initially promoted. Rorty's own positive approach is to make use of hermeneutic and pragmatic models with a view to developing new forms of discourse. The test of such forms will no longer be whether they provide us with insight into truth, goodness, or beauty. Instead we should consider whether a 'practice' has been accomplished successfully or whether a form achieves satisfactory self-description. His concept of truth is thus pragmatic. He argues that thought cannot be properly examined if divorced from the cultural conditions in which it is embedded. Our knowledge and the language we use to articulate our experience are inseparable from our concerns and purposes. Even the criteria we appeal to for judging our arguments can change. What we must seek to achieve through our analysis of different forms of discourse and cultural practices are better ways of talking and acting. Philosophy in studying the advantages and disadvantages of these ways is thus to be concerned with what he calls 'edification' and not with a systematic quest for 'truth'. We must be concerned not to seek any positive 'nature' but to remain content with what we can make of ourselves. In his later work Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity and Philosophical Papers, I he extends this broad approach to a consideration of the self, subjectivity, and ethics. We do indeed have a sense of the 'self', he says paradoxically, but this essentially has been created by ourselves. As such we are what he terms 'liberal ironists'. He is, however, a passionate advocate of the liberty of the individual — even though the concept of selfhood is a pragmatic one. There being no appeal to absolute moral values, Rorty invokes the notion of 'solidarity' which is grounded in man's common
experience of suffering — and argues that literature may offer greater insight into the human condition than abstract philosophizing. Rorty presents a highly controversial thesis which, if correct, must radically change our perception of the nature and function of philosophy. Rejecting philosophy as a 'mirror' of nature and as a search for 'truth', he sees it as becoming but one more kind of 'conversation' in our cultural life. He thus seems to be committed to some kind of cultural relativism: there are no absolute standards, only 'better' ways of talking and acting. Realist philosophers argue that 'better' ways are just those which are more successful in revealing truth and providing knowledge about the world, and which can be assessed by reference to the viability and progress of, for example, the natural sciences and our ability to cope with the world. It has also been objected against Rorty that the idea of criteria for linguistic usage as being culturally embedded is incoherent. Language has evolved as a means for us humans to understand and live successfully within the actual world; and this is common to all cultures. TEMA 6 : The pragmatic view on science in Th. Kuhn and Henson
Pe foaie!!! TEMA 7: Contemporary sources of relativism – PAUZA TEMA 8: Ch. Peirce's, The Fixation of Belief
In this essay Peirce examines some of the different methods that he thinks people use to determine what beliefs they are going to buy and which ones they are going to reject. You, for example, may believe that human beings do in fact have free will, or that there is a life after death, or that sharks are mammals, or that Republicans are the best political party. How did you settle on those beliefs you have? What processes do people go through to decide (often unconsciously) what beliefs they are going to accept and which they are going to reject? Peirce says that there are basically four different methods that people use to settle on which beliefs they are going to hold, i.e., which beliefs they are going to "fix on" as their own. (Hence his title, "The Fixation of Belief.") he question Peirce wants us to look at -- after some long introductory comments that he makes us wade through -- is what method people use to fix, or settle on, their beliefs. He says there are four basic methods people use.
1. The first method used for settling on a belief is the method of tenacity. All this means is that when a person uses this method they simply
tenaciously hold onto whatever beliefs they already hold, and reject whatever beliefs they already reject. So if you already believed that this course is not the first ever of its kind, you will continue to believe that, and vice versa, if you use this method. For people who use this method,
the gold standard of truth is what they already believe. So when someone proposes a belief to them, as I have just done for you, they simply hold that proposed belief up against their gold standard -- viz., the beliefs they already have. If it's a belief they already have, they think "Yes, that's true." If it's something they do not already believe they think "No, that's not true." This is a very simple method for deciding what to believe and doesn't require much thinking, Peirce says, so it's pretty handy. Unfortunately it can cause some problems. (What are some of the problems Peirce sees with using this method?) So some people use another method, the method of authority.
2. People who use the method of authority also have a fairly easy time of it. They determine which beliefs they are going to accept by just
turning to a person or institution they hold as their authority. This may be their mother, or their priest or rabbi or minister or mullah, or it may be their party leader or their favorite talk show host. They put the question to that authority and whatever that authority says determines whether they will accept the belief as their own or not. This method too is a simple one, but it has some enormous advantages over the method of tenacity. (What are some advantages Peirce thinks this method has over the method of tenacity?)
3. A third method that some people use is what Peirce calls the a priori method, or what might better be called the method of taste. If one uses
this method they choose what to believe based on what "sounds good" to them, or what suits them. So if you hear this proposed belief -- the one about this class being absolutely unique, for example -- and if you're using the a priori method, you might think "Hey, that sounds cool. I like that. So, ummmm, Yeah, I guess it's true." Or maybe you think "Ooooh, I don't like that; that doesn't sound good at all. I wouldn't like being in a brand new class. So, ummmmm, No, I don't think that's true." So using this method you get to believe what "sounds about right" to you, i.e., what suits you and your feelings and your belief system. So we can also call this method, the method of intellectual taste -- you get to believe what sounds or tastes good to you, and you can reject what doesn't sound good to you. Peirce, though, calls it the a priori method. (That's two words, pronounced "ah" and "pree-OH-ree.") This method has some big advantages, of course (what are some that Peirce describes?), but also some disadvantages (what are they?).
4. A fourth method for fixing belief Peirce refers to as the method of science. I'll let you figure out from the essay what he means by this
method, but I will tell you that Peirce says this method is based on some very basic assumptions. He emphasizes that these are assumptions, that is, they are not provable, but they do (he thinks) sound pretty reasonable. The first is the assumption that there is a real world out there, existing on its own, independently of what you or I happen to think about it. It really is out there. The second assumption is that the physical world out there has certain real characteristics, that it works according to certain real and regular laws, and that it affects our senses in certain real and regular ways. The third assumption is that if we understood the regular ways that the world affects our senses, then we could figure out what that world out there is truly like. We could discern the truth about the real world out there. So these are the four methods that Peirce thinks people use for settling on what beliefs they are going to accept and reject. Each method has a gold standard too, i.e., a kind of official ruler or standard, against which it measures each new belief to decide if that belief should be kept or thrown out. You'll have to figure out from the reading what the gold standard, or official ruler, is for each of the methods Peirce outlines.
The democratic conception in education, Dewey
Dewey has underpinned his chapter with one premise: education serves the purpose of improving society. He has claimed that educators must predicate this purpose with an understanding of societies and with an ideal society. As a result, in this chapter, Dewey has examined various notions of society to identify an ideal one. Then, he reviewed three historic philosophies of education to indicate briefly what educators will have
to accomplish to build this ideal society. He has broken down his argumentation in five sections. 1. The Implications of Human Associations In this section, he has tried to articulate the criteria that would characterize his ideal society. To realize this, he has started by defining society as a human association maintained because of the interests shared by the members of the society. This has led him to claim that the word society can have two distinct meanings, one de jure and one de facto. According to him, de jure, a society would correspond to a united whole. However, he has suggested that, in fact, a number of societies, of human associations, comprise this society de jure. Such societies can be criminal ones, educational ones, religious ones… Dewey has advanced that, for each society, its members possess common interests. Th ese interests can be conflicting with the ones of others. For Dewey, this meant a reduction in the number of interactions between the societies that limits progress. Thus, he has called for increasing the number of common interests of the members of the society de jure. 2. The Democratic Ideal From this, his ideal society proceeds, a democratic one. According to Dewey, a democratic society involves transcending the barriers existing between classes, races and national territories. In this sense, such a society would eliminate the barriers existing between the conflicting interests. The author has selected this ideal because the objective of democracy is to increase and to sustain the common interests of citizens. He has considered that this type of society would be mobile. Therefore, Dewey has believed that to attain this objective education must foster personal initiatives and adaptability. This has prompted his examination of historic philosophies of education. 3. The Platonic Educational Philosophy The Platonic educational philosophy is the first of those philosophies. Dewey has asserted that the following premise underlies this philosophy: a society is stably organized when every individual does what is useful to others. After suggesting that he support this premise, he affirmed that Plato had proposed that the goals of education are to identify the aptitudes that these individuals would employ to do what is useful to others, and to develop those aptitudes. Ultimately, this education would assign everyone to one of three professions. However, Dewey has contended that this would limit social progress. In addition, since Plato had advanced that the platonic educational model could only proceed from a harmonious society, therefore could not improve a society, Dewey has argued that this model is not completely appropriate for the mobile democratic ideal. 4. The “Individualistic” Ideal of the Eighteenth Century Consequently, Dewey began the examination of an educational ideal of the eighteenth century. Rousseau’ s Emil grounds this educational conception. In essence, Rousseau’s educational philosophy is antisocial, meaning that it is at odds with the French society o f the eighteenth century. Dewey has asserted that the goals and the means of this movement lay in n ature. According to the writer, the objective of Rousseau’s movement had been the emancipation of the individual from the prejudices of the feudal society. This had entailed replacing the feudal system by the ideal of humanity. 5. Education as National and as Social However, Dewey has thought that the reliance on naturalistic means was problematic for the German people of the nineteenth century. He has argued that, for the Germans, this reliance had represented a negation of education in itself. This has p redicated Dewey’s analysis of the third historic philosophy of education, the German example. To formulate this analysis, he has first warned readers about the political state of the German people at the time. The end of the Napoleonic war had separated Germans between the Kingdom of Prussia, the Russian Empire and the Austrian Empire. In this context, German nationalism had emerged. According to Dewey, the naturalistic ideal of Rousseau was not adequate to supply nationalists with patriots. Dewey has affirmed that, therefore, Germans had decided to develop an organized system of education. For Dewey, this organized system had aimed at raising patriotic citizens, implying forgetting about Rousseau’s humanitarian ideal . Dewey has claimed that this would have required and had required the subordination of Germans to nation. Kant had articulated such a concern earlier but most German nationalists labeled him as an egoist. In line with Kant’s point of view, Dewey has drawn two conclusions. First, he has contended that the comprehension of the dualism between
individualistic and social educations necessitates taking into account the various contexts. More importantly, his analysis has led him to highlight the problem for education in and for a democratic society of the conflict between nationalistic principles and wider social aims. He has thought that nationalistic goals entail obscuring social aims. He has propounded that the solution to this issue involves changing school curricula and teaching methods and ensuring that no class would exploit any other. Then, he proposed that educators start emphasizing on what binds people together.
TEMA 10 R.
Rorty, The World Well Lost
Pauza Tema 11. Rorty's, Edification and Naturalism
Notions you need to know:
• Edification: moral, intellectual or spiritual enlightenment or improvement by uplifting actions
-Art edifies the space it is Placed in
-Comprehension edifies the world around
Naturalism: in the universe, Laws of nature exist and function Exclusively, the belief That nature governs the structure and behavior of the universe, nothing exists beyond nature, But if it does, it does not Affect the natural world.
-Ghosts, spirits, supernatural Entities do not exist
-There is no purpose in nature
• Epistemology: the theory of knowledge, with concern Towards methods, validity and purpose, questions what knowledge is and how it CAN be obtained, how much of year object or entity CAN be truly known and how much Remains Unknown
- How knowledge relates to truth, belief and justification (of actions, thoughts, Propositions, etc..)
- There is a difference between "Knowing That", "knowing how" and "acquaintance-knowledge"
• Hermeneutics: a branch of knowledge That deals with interpretation of things, Entities and notions, mostly text interpretation Concerns
• Metaphysics: Concerned with the fundamental nature of reality and Existence, it studies what is outside of objective experience, structure and constitution of reality
• Pour-kind: abstract, of being That has feelings, being for itself
• En-kind material, a being with no feelings, being in Itself
Edification and naturalism
• Rorty's essay deals with the methodology of resolving Philosophical Issues Such as the distinction between spirit and nature, transcendental hermeneutics and the search for objective knowledge
• He evokes works of Many Philosophers in His rhetoric and Works His Way Towards the Conclusion of His Own, about how we objectivize ourselves by reflection, Changing our opinions, vocabulary and behavior through time
• Phenomenology and Hermeneutics both suggest ways in Which we might create a transcendental standpoint, refusing the Notion That change in behavior results from change in self-description Which in turn brings forth the objectivization of Human Beings
• Rorty believes we SHOULD not Expect That philosophy to answer questions left unanswered by science
• Transcendental hermeneutics promises to see nature and advocates freedom as normal discourse as year element of edification
• Habermas: transcendental philosophy CAN analyze what knowledge has the practical functions
- If cognitive Interests has Analyzed through inquiry in natural and cognitive sciences, They are transcendental in nature
- If Analyzed in the Contexts of Anthropology, Empirical They are in nature
• Rorty feels it unnecessary to find a general way to analyze These roles, advocating the use of cultural anthropology as enough
• Habermas' transcendental corroboration Criticize year Overly self-confident self-understanding of Itself Because it comes up with a theory make subjective Conditions That Possible and limited at the same time "
• Overconfidence: Thinking That there is truthfulness to reality in Philosophical realism
Normal scientific discourse • Can be seen in two ways:
January. Successful search for objective truth
February. One among other discourse we engage in Which
• Error in systematic philosophy: answering the above questions with "new" discourse, Which is the philosopher's "bad faith", substituting pseudo-cognition for moral choice
• Made Possible to see Kant as scientific truth Something Unable to supply a point, the justification and to claim that our moral Decisions are based on knowledge of the nature of the world by destroying the traditional conception of reason
• He Called this "the discovery of inevitable subjective Conditions, Which Would be Revealed by reflection upon scientific inquiry."
• Tries to recast distinctions Rorty (nature & spirit & reflection objectivizing science, epistemology & hermeneutics) in terms of historical and temporary & unfamiliar and familiar distinctions between normal & abnormal.
• allowing us to see Them as the distinction between inquiry and the questioning out of Which May or May not emerge inquiries
• Combining Advantages of normality with abnormality
• Epistemology is connected to moral Commitment (reality, truth, Ob jectivity, reason)
• Behaviorism Within epistemology is to look at normal discourse in the bifocal way:
- As for historical patterns ADOPTED Reasons
- As achievement of objective truth, or the best explanation we have so far
TEMA 12. W.
James, What pragmatism means Lecture no 2
Here, James introduces the pragmatic method, and it is on this that I want to focus. It seems to me that there is a difference between the two general formulations of the “pragmatic method”, and an important one. One formulation goes: “The pragmatic method in such cases is to try to interpret each notion by tracing its respective practical consequences. What difference would it practically make to anyone if this notion rather than that notion were true? If no practical difference whatever can be traced, then the alternatives mean practically the same thing, and all dispute is idle. Whenever a dispute is serious, we ought to be able to show some practical difference that must follow from one side or the other's being right.” This is the first part of James’ formulation. The other (as is often echoed by neo-pragmatists such as Rorty) is as follows: “'What would be better for us to believe'! This sounds very like a definition of truth. It comes very near to saying 'what we OUGHT to believe': and in THAT definition none of you would find any oddity. Ought we ever not to believe what it is BETTER FOR US to believe?” This addition to pragmatism is, in my opinion, more problematic than the first, because it seems to introduce the highly subjective notion of “usefulness”... which appears to be a straightforwardly question-begging concept. Better for whom? For what purposes? Is truth to be simply the conclusion of a hypothetical syllogism… P Agent X wants Y P If X wants Y, she must believe Z C Therefore, Z is true? How might X convince another person who does not share the want/need for Y, or especially another person who does not want Y, that Z is true? This formulation of is extremely problematic, because it severely weakens the notion of “truth”, making it (somewhat ironically) far less useful. Truth is used, principally, as a way of settling disputes. Two people disagree, and one is occasionally able to demonstrate that his beliefs/propositions possess that elusive but extremely potent property of “truth”. The disagreement is resolved. If we relativize “truth” to the wants/needs/projects of agents, it loses this potency. We might see the second formulation as an expansion of the first: “We get to truth by determining the practical difference between options, AND the correct one is the one that is the most useful.” But let us not confuse the two: the latter is a much stronger statement, and much more difficult to justify.
To clarify, I think I understand the general relevance of James’ “squirrel” example. He claims that it is a paradigm case of the application of the pragmatic method (which, as we have seen, is to examine what practical consequence each option has). But we must note: the squirrel-dispute is not resolved, it is dissolved. Both sides are right, depending on what is meant by the phrase “going round”. This may be an admirable trick, but someone may still ask: what is the correct way to use the phrase
“going round”? James would seem to be suggesting that there isn’t one, that the question itself is nonsensical. Thus, we see how the method dissolves old philosophical problems. Does free will exist? Well, if “free will” is to denote a general experience of freedom in action, then yes. If it it is to mean total freedom from any deterministic influences whatsoever, then no. There is no “final answer” for James, only a question of meanings and consequences.
Tema 13: Quine,
Two dogmas of empiricism
According to Quine, Modern empericism has been functioning based on two dogmas, the first being a distinction between analytic and synthetic truths, and the second being the idea of reductionism, that meaningful statements can be reduced or made equivalent to logical constructs based on terms which ―refer to immediate experience‖. Quine then goes onto the flesh out these two dogmas beginning with the first (analyticity). So Quine begins by giving a background on the idea of analyticity and where it comes from philosophically. According to Quine, Kant‘s idea of distinguishing the difference between analytic and synthetic truths was foreshadowed by Hume (Relation between ideas and matters of facts) and Liebniz (Truths of reason and truths of fact). Analytic truths, according to Quine, are ―grounded in meanings and independent in facts‖ while synthetic truths are ―grounded in facts‖. And analytic truth, as I understand it (not mentioned by Quine) would be 1+1 = 2, which is reason tells us to be true, and can be found in experience. Quine states, that modern empiricists claim that to deny analytic truths would be self contradictory, and he (Quine) further claims that selfcontradictoriness, just like analytic truths, are 2 sides of the same coin. According to Quine, Kant conceived of analytic truth statements as ―one that attributes to its subject no more than is already conceptually contained in the subject.‖. It is difficult to understand what Kant means by this, but I take it to mean, the subject is whole in itself. For example, 1+1 = 2 can be written as one plus one is two, and the subjects (one, and two) are wholly contained in themselves, they have precise complete ideas, at least in my understanding. Quine points out that there are problems already when defining analytical truths because, to define it would mean to come up with a metaphorical equivalent, which takes us nowhere. Quine also wonders whether the limitation that analytic statements are in subject-predicate form, although I‘m not sure what other alternatives he had in mind. For simplicity, Quine defines Analytic statements as true by virtue of meaning (reason), and independent of facts. Remember,
that synthetic statements are true by virtue of facts (experience) only. So by default, analytic statements must be true to use by virtue of reason (meaning). Are meaning and reason interchangeable, as Quine wants us to believe, I am not sure. Nevertheless, now Quine wants us to get to the aspect of meaning. Quine adopts Frege‘s statement that Meaning is not to be found in names or in references. He gives the famous example by Frege of the Morning Star and Evening Star. The morning star and evening star were revered by ancients, and understood to mean two different things. However, by virtue of astronomical observation, we later found out that they (the morning star and evening star) both referred to the same object. We found this out by experience (facts). What Frege is trying to show is that an object can have multiple names (denotations), and mean distinctly different things (senses) while refering to the same object. Quine also gives the example from Bertrand Russel of ―Scott‖ and ―the author of waverly‖, again while referring to the same object, have distinct meanings. According to Frege, we can only know that Scott is the author of waverly if we go into the world and determine if there is a scott that is the author of waverly, or that the morning star and evening star are the same. In other words, these statements are synthetic by nature. Quine notes that so far we have been dealing with singular terms and the case is somewhat different albeit parallel to singular terms. According to Quine, while a singular term names a concept, abstract or concrete, a general term does not purport to do this, a general term is true ―of an entity,or of each of many, or of non‖. In other words, general entities are truth claims being made about the way the world is, for example in the case of x = 5, x does not refer to any concept, it is general (or blank). However, if we make the claim that x is = 5 then we have to go into the world and confirm that there is indeed a 5 and it is X. A clearer example would be this, there is someone who designed the US Flag. Someone does not refer to anybody in particular, but if we make a claim about the world, then to know if it is true or not we would have to go into the world and find out if someone did design the flag. Quine makes a further distinction when he says the class of all entities of which a general term is true is called the extension of the term. So for example, all the class of entities that make the claim true that someone designed the flag, e.g Mark, the son of Jacob, the Father of Lilly, The accountant on main street, are all entities that refer to the same object and are extensions of the general term. Although, as we found out already, they may mean
different things, and as such we have to go out in the world to verify, hence they are synthetic statements. Quine then goes on to make the claim that in philosophy there is a more commonplace notion of an opposition or contrast between meaning (or what Quine calls intention) and Extension. Quine then gives the example of Aristotle who made the claim that meaning was the essence or rather essence was the fore runner to meaning. Quine shows an example by Aristotle, where the later claims that it is essential for man to be rational, but accidental for man to be two-legged. I take it that what Aristotle means here is that there are other two legged mammals that can be conflated with man, if it was his essence, but then rationality is the distinct and essential feature that seperates man from other bipeds. On the other hand, Quine notes that Aristotle is flawed in drawing a difference, because man happens to be both biped and rational, (both qualities referring to the same object = man) thus how can he claim that one is more essential than another, when rationality does not influence biped-ness or vice versa. In other words, Quine is saying that the biped-ness of man is an extension, an entity that is true of man just like rationality. While accidental may be the wrong choice of words from Aristotle, and Quine does him no favors, but the reality is that Aristotle is making the claim that while other animals may have biped-ness like the kangaroo for example, or birds, what distinguishes man from animals is essentially his rationality (some would claim the level of rationality/abstraction). Quine goes on to show Aristotle‘s views on the difference between essence and meaning, in that ―Things had essences, for Aristotle, but only linguistic forms have meanings. Meaning is what essence becomes when it is divorced from the object of reference and wedded to the word.‖ So Quine goes on to ask, ―what sorts of things are meanings?‖. This is Quine‘s response to this question: ―They are evidently intended to be ideas, somehow — mental ideas for some semanticists, Platonic ideas for others. Objects of either sort are so elusive, not to say debatable, that there seems little hope of erecting a fruitful science about them.‖. Quine dismisses the notion of meanings to be ideas gotten from objects of experience because of their elusiveness. I mean, how does one get meaning without experience? We need experience, to draw out meanings from essences is it not? Anyways back to Quine, he goes on to say its not clear when we have two meanings or one, or when linguistic forms should be regarded as synonymous or alike in meaning. Quine then makes the claim that if a standard for synonymy, or what is alike in meaning is found in the future, the appeal to meanings as entities would not have played a useful part. So Quine is
rejecting the notion that meanings are entities (ideas either platonic or mental). Quine goes on to show that a need for meanings to be entities may come from a failed appreciation at understanding that meaning is divorced from references, and that once fully appreciated a short step is necessary showing us that meaning is simply synonymity or analyticity of statements, and that we should abandon meaning as what he calls ―obscure intermediary entities‖ or what he initially called ideas. However, Quine shows us that we are now confronted with the new problem of analyticity. Quine goes to show two classes of analytic statements, the first being logically true (No unmarried man is married). This logically true class is true for present and all future reinterpretations of either the word married or man. It is true independent of experience. The second class is a synonymous interchange (No bachelor is married). Here the word ‗bachelor‘ replaces the word ―unmarried‖ and as such is true, although it is true by synonymy which Quine posits is in need of clarification. Quine also mentions that Carnap has tried to explain analyticity as ‗state-descriptions‘ basically which shows that a statement can be true in every possible world, similar to Leibniz. But for Quine, this doesn‘t really get at the heart of the issue, analyticity, although it helps simply probability, which Carnap was interested in. For Quine, the main issue for him was the second class, synonymy, as opposed to the first class or logically true statements. So Quine begins with the second class of analyticity, front to back – tossing out one of its criticisms, that the bachelor reduces by definition to being unmarried. He claims that no one defined it as such, mocking the powers of a lexicographer, saying that they are synonymous is all we know about it (even though we have to explain what that means), and that we cannot even claim that one defines another. Quine then claims that while philosophers, like philologists, define terms using more familiar words, definitions like that of the lexicographer are just relations of synonymy, and while we do not know what the connections are between terms to make them synonymous, we know that they are grounded in usage. This for me is a big step. Again there is no mention to experience. Quine does make room for some definitions not to fit into a mold, because they explain by refining the meaning of a term, but while the definitions words may not be based on synonymy, the ―context‖ to be understood between the term and its definition are synonymous.
Quine then digresses unto what definitions are, which according to him can be either three things: A definition paraphrase a term, or gives it a new refined meaning, or provides a new term that is synonymous with the original term. But Quine gets back to the issue of synonymy. Synonymy is according to Quine the ―interchangeability (of a linguistic form) in all contexts without change of truth value‖. Quine goes on to show that ―bachelor‖ and ―unmarried‖ are not synonmyous in all cases, showing cases of bachelors of arts, or ―‗bachelor‘ has 8 letters‖. However, Quine says we can get around that by calling these separate phrases indivisible words and then ―stipulating that the interchangeability salva veritate which is to be the touchstone of synonymy is not supposed to apply to fragmentary occurrences inside of a word‖ although Quine recognizes now that ‗word‘ has its own difficulties. Nevertheless he leaves that aside to get back to synonymy. Quine asks, is ―interchangeability salva veritate (apart from occurrences within words) a strong enough condition for synonymy‖? or can some non-synonymous expressions be interchangeable? Quine explains that it is not poetic or pyschological associations that is being looked for in synonymy but what he calls ‗cognitive synonymy‘ or as he explains, that ―all and only bachelors are unmarried‖ is an analytic statement. In other words, cognitive synonymy is concerned with equivalence in meaning and not psychological appreciations of different expressions. So the question is ―Is interchangeability is a sufficient condition for cognitive synonymy.‖ Quine claims it is sufficient, citing the example of ―Necessarily all and only mean are bachelors‖, and if one could replace bachelors with unmarried men, then it was cognitively synonymous with ―all and only bachelors are unmarried‖. But as Quine notes this is a circular argument. It is circular because it accepts that we understand what the word, ―necessarily‘ is supposed to mean, which means constrained to analytic statements,s something trying to be proven. It is begging the question basically. So Quine posits that ― Interchangeability salva veritate is meaningless until relativized to a language whose extent is specified in relevant respects‖ Quine goes on to talk about languages that have a lot of predicates such as (F*x, where x is man and F is the predicate). Basically, Quine goes to show that language is extensional when any two predicates are true of the same object. So Quine shows that extensional language is NOT an assurance of cognitive synonymy, because while it may be true, the fact that it is cognitively synonymous maybe accidental, take the example of ―he has a heart‖, and ―he has a kidney‖. And we cannot take for granted that while we use words like ‗necessarily‘ they already refer to presupposed notion that we are inquiring about, analyticity, and would make no sense to someone with no
understanding of analyticity. As such, interchangeability is not a sufficient condition for analyticity. Quine then goes on to discuss Analyticity. Again Quine goes back to front, tackling supposed solutions of analyticity via semantic rules which, as he points out just repeat themselves in these artificial languages. If we don‘t understand what it means to be analytic, there are no rules that can mask that we don‘t understand what it means to be analytic. As Quine puts eloquently, ―Let us suppose, to begin with, an artificial language L0 whose semantical rules have the form explicitly of a specification, by recursion or otherwise, of all the analytic statements of L0. The rules tell us that such and such statements, and only those, are the analytic statements of L0. Now here the difficulty is simply that the rules contain the word ‗analytic,‘ which we do not understand! We understand what expressions the rules attribute analyticity to, but we do not understand what the rules attribute to those expressions. In short, before we can understand a rule which begins ―A statement S is analytic for language L0 if and only if . . . ,‖ we must understand the general relative term ‗analytic for‘; we must understand ‗S is analytic for L‘ where ‗S‘ and ‗L‘ are variables.‖ Alternatively, Quine notes another supposed semantic remedy, whereby ―a new simple symbol ‗analytic-for-L0,‘ which might better be written untendentiously as ‗K‘ so as not to seem to throw light on the interesting word ―analytic.‖ Obviously any number of classes K, M, N, etc., of statements of L0 can be specified for various purposes or for no purpose; what does it mean to say that K, as against M, N, etc., is the class of the ‗analytic‘ statements of L0? By saying what statements are analytic for L0 we explain ‗analytic-for L0 ‘ but not ‗analytic for.‘ We do not begin to explain the idiom ‗S is analytic for L‘ with variable ‗S‘ and ‗L,‘ even though we be content to limit the range of ‗L‘ to the realm of artificial languages.‖ It is clear the semantic rules only mask the problem of analyticity. Quine states what amounts to his thoughts on the issue here: ―It is obvious that truth in general depends on both language and extra-linguistic fact. The statement ‗Brutus killed Caesar‘ would be false if the world had been different in certain ways, but it would also be false if the word ‗killed‘ happened rather to have the sense of ‗begat.‘‖( This is just not true. Truth depends exclusively on experience. There is no linguistic fact. Begat here is from experience. What are the facts when we make up new words. ) But he goes on to look at the verificationist argument. Quine goes on to explain verificationism, the idea that ― the meaning of a statement is the method of empirically confirming or infirming it. An analytic statement is that limiting case which is confirmed no matter what.‖ Quine classes people that believe that
every meaningful statement translates into an immediate experience. Quine places Locke and Hume in that category, and shows how Carnap attempted to categorize every experience in a notation, although he (carnap) ended up with what he recognized as a fragmentary result. Quine notes that this momentous effort, was flawed even in principle because the connective ―is at‖ was undefined. Quine says that it is difficult to show that synthetic statements are found in nature, and that it is a dogma which Quines calls ―nonsense, and the root of much nonsense, to speak of a linguistic component and a factual component in the truth of any individual statement.‖. Quine mentions how Russell came up with ‗use‘ as a way to get over the term-by-term problem of empiricists, and that the statement should be taken as a unit not the term itself, but Quine says that in fact the statement should NOT be taken as a unit, in fact that we should reject this notion of empiricism. So Quine‘s view, or empiricism without dogma as he calls it, is a recognition of the fact that a majority of what we believe are myths, with facts tangentially related to experience. Quine puts it more eloquently here: ― The totality of our so-called knowledge or beliefs, from the most casual matters of geography and history to the profoundest laws of atomic physics or even of pure mathematics and logic, is a manmade fabric which impinges on experience only along the edge‖ Myths are man made, and according to Quine, sometimes they serve a purpose, to help our conceptual systems. Quine goes on ―Or, to change the figure, total science is like a field of force whose boundary conditions are experience. A conflict with experience at the periphery occasions readjustments in the interior of the field. Truth values have to be redistributed over some of our statements. Re-evaluation of some statements entails re-evaluation of others, because of their logical interconnections — the logical laws being in turn simply certain further statements of the system, certain further elements of the field. Having reevaluated one statement we must re-evaluate some others, whether they be statements logically connected with the first or whether they be the statements of logical connections themselves. But the total field is so undetermined by its boundary conditions, experience, that there is much latitude of choice as to what statements to reevaluate in the light of any single contrary experience. No particular experiences are linked with any particular statements in the interior of the field, except indirectly through considerations of equilibrium affecting the field as a whole.‖. This is amazing and frankly ridiculous. Every statement has a truth/false notion. But according to Quine, ―Any statement can be held true come what may, if we make drastic enough adjustments elsewhere in the system‖. Isn‘t this relativism? Quine goes on ―Even a
statement very close to the periphery can be held true in the face of recalcitrant experience by pleading hallucination or by amending certain statements of the kind called logical laws‖ If we change logical laws to make a statement convenient, we have to change it in our every experience. We can‘t just make logical laws willy nilly? Quine goes on further ‖ Revision even of the logical law of the excluded middle has been proposed as a means of simplifying quantum mechanics; and what difference is there in principle between such a shift and the shift whereby Kepler superseded Ptolemy, or Einstein Newton, or Darwin Aristotle?‖ But the problem he makes is forgetting that all these revisions were BASED on better methods of evaluating experience, and not some conceptual mental models for convenience. Quine goes on ―A recalcitrant experience can, I have already urged, be accommodated by any of various alternative re-evaluations in various alternative quarters of the total system; but, in the cases which we are now imagining, our natural tendency to disturb the total system as little as possible would lead us to focus our revisions upon these specific statements concerning brick houses or centaurs. These statements are felt, therefore, to have a sharper empirical reference than highly theoretical statements of physics or logic or ontology. The latter statements may be thought of as relatively centrally located within the total network, meaning merely that little preferential connection with any particular sense data obtrudes itself.‖ The later are abstract statements are get their origin in experience but are built up by logical extensions. While no particular sense data intrudes, you cannot deny they are borne of experience? Quine then compares physical objects to the gods of homer, albeit stating he believes in the former, showing that they are intermediaries that do not exist, sort of like irrational numbers, but are allowed to be used in language because of their convenience in a logical system. I think Mathematicians will tell you that irrational numbers are abstractions borne out of experience, not sensory data. Quine goes on ―Science is a continuation of common sense, and it continues the common-sense expedient of swelling ontology to simplify theory.‖ Is Ontology borne out of experience, Yes. Is Science borne out of experience, Yes. But is there an equivalency, NO. Because science is not just experience, but a testability of what we know from experience, of our beliefs or system. Ontology is not testable, and thus is speculative. But Quine finds them equivalent as shown here : ‖Ontological questions, under this view, are on a par with questions of natural science‖ This is simply not true. Quine ends the discussion. And so too I bid goodnight. Pragmatism is dangerous my friends.
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