[hist-analytic] Davidson's 'Under a description' Trick

steve bayne baynesrb at yahoo.com
Sat Jan 31 16:31:19 EST 2009


Danny,

As a friend you understand my position vis a vis postings better
than my fiends. So although some may misunderstand when
you say I'm "mistaken" about something, it doesn't  affect me
in the least. 

Davidson was, and is, a fine philosopher. Austin and Grice
were among the best in their domain; Davidson and Quine
were the best of the now dead philosophers who wrote on
a, relatively, narrow segment of philosophy. By this I mean
they were not like Broad or Stout - gifted at General Philosophy.
So, yes, Davidson's approach is "clean" and to the point. But here
is a facet of the discussion I didn't touch on that I discuss
at length in my book.

All this talk about descriptions in connection with action
theory is what happens when you dispense with "ideas"
in action. What I want to do is go back to James's theory;
and Bradley's theory and see what can be done by
treating philosophy of mind as a branch of psychology,
rather than philosophy of mind as a brand of linguistic
analysis. Meinong, early Russell, Bradley; these, in my
opinion were the great geniuses of this last century or
so. I include Sellars here. Carnap  is the "bad guy." But
he dominates the century in my opinion and by the accounts
of most (a couple at least lurking in the background) he
was a delightful human being. But when philosophy
became absorbed into semantics and Tarksi type
semantics, at that, it took a different sort of turn, a "linguistic
turn" (to use Bergmann's expression). Indeed, I "cut
my teeth" on Bergmann and the Austrian school. Never
fully recovered. That is why I'm impatient with all this
business about 'under a description'. Davidson even
admits that we now are to get hung up on opacity;
which is interesting in itself (L. Linsky is best on this
topic in my opinion) but evades much relevant
philosophy 

In a nutshell the relevant metaphilosophical view
of mine is that no ideal language, no "therapy" will
suffice for hard philosophical thinking. Even when it
"goes linguistic"; if you retain a felt need to "hug the
earth" you can do this stuff productively, as did
Sellars, for example, in "Being and Being Known,"
one of my favorite papers.

I look forward to your posting and read most of them,
even on the other lists.

Best wishes

Steve

--- On Sat, 1/31/09, Danny Frederick <danny.frederick at tiscali.co.uk> wrote:
From: Danny Frederick <danny.frederick at tiscali.co.uk>
Subject: RE: Davidson's 'Under a description' Trick
To: hist-analytic at simplelists.com
Cc: baynesrb at yahoo.com
Date: Saturday, January 31, 2009, 3:35 PM




 
 






Hi Steve, 

   

   

<<If you cannot articulate the description, how
do you know it exists?>> 

   

   

My answer would be that there was something I was
trying to do, so to that extent I had an idea of what I was trying to do; and if
I succeeded in doing it, then the action exemplified that idea. And this is so whether
or not I can articulate that idea. I agree that Davidson would probably regard
this response as unwelcome, since he does not like intensions, so I acknowledge
that you may indeed have raised a problem for Davidson (I would have to check
his writings to be sure). But the problem for Davidson is not necessarily a
problem for one who follows the principles of his analysis but substitutes
ideas for descriptions. 

   

   

<<Notice that
you have conveniently (?) altered the description, substituting 'the usual way'
for 'in just the way *required*'>> 

   

   

Yes, I did, didn’t I? 

   

Cheers. 

   

Danny 



 

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