Quine's Critique of Analytic Statements and Holism One common distinction throughout the history of epistemology is between analytic

and synthetic truths. These terms are more contemporary, but lines up with Hume's distinction between “relations of ideas” and “matters of fact” (En uiry, !"#. $ome truths, li%e those of mathematics and definitions, are considered true in &irtue of the meanings of the component terms' it is argued that these are necessarily true and are %nown solely through reason, not through sense e(perience. They are necessarily true, since their negation implies a contradiction. Others are considered empirical, which are only %nown through e(perience in the world. These ha&e no certainty, as their negation is still possible. )elow are some interconnections between these two terms* +nalytic +re %nown ,uality E(amples A priori (without the benefit of e(perience# -ertain “The ball is round.” “+ll bachelors are unmarried men.” “/ 0 / 1 "” $ynthetic A Posteriori (through e(perience# .robable (at best# “The ball is red.” “2oe is a bachelor.” “E&ery morning the sun will rise.”

These terms are central to Hume's argument for the “problem of induction” (the argument that inducti&e generali3ations are at best probable# and 4escartes' foundationalism. 5i%ewise, the denial of this distinction is central to ,uine's holism. ,uine begins his argument in “Two 4ogmas of Empiricism” specifying that there are two “classes” of analytic statements* those that are true by logic, and those that are true by definition. +n e(ample of the former would be “6o unmarried man is married,” and one of the latter is “6o bachelor is married.” +ny truth of the latter class, it is belie&ed, can be turned into one of the former class by substituting identical synonyms. )y replacing “bachelor” in the abo&e with “unmarried man” (both of which mean the same thing# both statements will then be thought to mean the e(act same thing. 7n this way, definitions are analytic since they merely restate the same thing that the logical truth does in different words. $ince the one is certain, so must be the other. )ut in each case, the definition must rely upon prior usages of words. There must then be a set of terms which go undefined, and by which all other terms are defined. One then cannot rely upon definition as a criteria for analycity. 6e(t he e(amines the notion of interchangability. 7f two words can be substituted in the same place while the sentence means the same thing, then the two words mean the same thing. “Tom is happy” and “Tom is content” in this way mean the same thing, since where&er it would be true to say “Tom is happy,” it is also true to say “Tom is content.” )ut consider the e(pression “'Happy' is fi&e letters long.” 7t is not true that we could substitute “content” here for “happy” and the sentence still be true. Thus, not e&ery occurrence of synonyms are replaceable in all conte(ts. Howe&er, a more pressing concern is &isible here, since the abo&e statements are true in &irtue of the ob8ects mentioned, not the meanings of the words. 7t is not necessarily true that, although two words may be true of two sets of ob8ects that they mean the same thing for us. +nd further, we cannot rely upon substitution to be true of the ob8ects mentioned in the sub8ect term, and then e(plain that two sentences li%ewise true for all ob8ects as a criteria for analycity. That would be circular. 9hat is synonymous relies upon the notion

".uine is right. <ather than to suppose an e(ternal criteria of correspondence for the truth of a gi&en statement. either outside or underlying our system of %nowledge. so we cannot e(plain analycity in terms of interchangable synonyms. One cannot isolate and test our statements one:by:one. are of the same type as Homer's gods>they are postulated to e(plain things about the world. then our %nowledge is ma(imally secure>although ne&er completely certain. not based upon the supposition that angry gods cause lightening or storms. our belief in the e(istence of ob8ects for e(ample.. . only some truths (li%e mathematics and science# are more central to the system than others. 7f . but is he rightA 9hy or why notA . “)oth sorts of entities enter our conception only as cultural posits” (p.uine's Holism 7f . ""#. then it seems that e&erything is possibly confirmed or disconfirmed through e(perience. Howe&er. since it re uires that all truths be of the same class. 9e could 8ust as well gi&e up our belief in the e(ternal world.' analycity and reductionism. These 'two dogmas. .” 7f all of our %nowledge is at best probable.uine denies this reductionism as a &iable candidate.# . The conclusion which follows from this in&estigation is that there is no non:circular way to tell which truths are analytic. 7n light of . then all of our %nowledge is synthetic. not analytic. if we were to belie&e in ?eus and Hera. but merely are a presupposition that we ma%e to engage in to ma%e contemporary science possible. Our science relies upon the central hypothesis of the e(istence of ob8ects. but that would re uire much more re&ision in the entire system (and would need to be the result of a much more compelling reason or set of e(periences# than 8ettisoning the @ree% gods. 7n this way. so 7 will not sur&ey it here. that would not be a different %ind of belief. since the process of reduction to sense:data presupposes the distinction in uestion. then is there any possibility of certaintyA 9hy or why notA 9hat would . -ontradictions of our system of %nowledge with sense e(perience is li%ely to ma%e us to abandon certain tri&ial truths around the edges. does 4escartes ha&e a pro&erbial leg upon which to standA 9hy or why notA /. they ha&e the same method of &erification#. between analytic and synthetic truths. but merely a different degree. This is an important lead:up to his holism. we can say that analytic statements are those which are ne&er disconfirmed by sense e(perience.#.uine say to thisA =. but “no statement is immune from re&ision” (p. He li%ens %nowledge to “a fabric. +s long as our beliefs are ma(imally internally consistent and agree with sense e(perience.uine's criti ue. $ome more central truths we are less li%ely to re&ise. Discussion Questions . . instead he relies upon an internal criteria of consistency. which impinges upon e(perience only along the edges” (p.' This is a &ery technical notion. we can say that two statements mean the same thing when our e(perience confirms them in the same way (that is. That does no mean that they are true. what is the status of 4escartes' cogito as an indubitable starting pointA 7s that necessarily trueA 7f not. -ertain hypotheses.uine also searches for an answer in terms of 'semantic rules.uine is right that there is no distinction between what is true through e(perience and what is true independent of e(perience. "/#. 6o statement is necessarily true. 5astly. -onsider this according to Hume's “problem of induction. and that no one truth occupies a superior position.of analycity. are “at root identical” (p.uine gi&es a plausible account of %nowledge. ". but rather “our statements about the e(ternal world face the tribunal of sense e(perience not indi&idually but only as a corporate body” (p. "=#. 6o truth occupies a uni ue place.