[hist-analytic] "Naturally": History and Analysis

mdoctorow at ca.rr.com mdoctorow at ca.rr.com
Sun Apr 5 20:59:34 EDT 2009


Description and Explanation seem to have been frequently been lost sight of among physics researchers (engineers too, of course). I would describe physicists and engineers as Rush-to-the-End-Oriented.  Whereas philosophers ponder correctly over Description and Explanation, correctly wondering what in the world they're talking about, physicists (dropping engineers for brevity) resemble the horse which, upon the firing of the starting pistol, rushes to the finishing line across the center of the track or even turns around to return to the start and stops there.  

My remedy is for every physicist (and engineer - who now makes his return) to be required to have a philosopher as equal (at least!) partner.

Osher Doctorow  
---- Jlsperanza at aol.com wrote: 
> In a message dated 4/5/2009 12:57:59 P.M.  Eastern Daylight Time, 
> danny.frederick at tiscali.co.uk writes:
> Yet in future,  some of it may
> become testable, like the theory that matter is composed of  atoms, which was
> an ancient metaphysical theory which became a part of  science only
> relatively recently.
> ----  
> 
> 
> She is, naturally, a good philosopher.
>     Naturally, she is a good philosopher.
>     She is a good philosopher, naturally.
>     She, naturally, is a good philosopher*
>     She is a good, naturally, philosopher.
>  
> (* -- even though she defends "Transnaturalism") 
>  
> In this post, if I may (the telephone may always _ring_; but don't be  
> discouraged, this phrase of idiom means I have _planned_ the thing) I propose to  do 
> a few things:
>  
> --- criticise D. Frederick's use of 'metaphysical'.
> --- criticise D. Frederick's use of 'science'.
>  
> How?
> 
> Well, by re-editing his dictum:
>  
>      the theory that matter is composed of atoms, 
>     which was an ancient metaphysical theory which 
>     became a part of science ...
>  
> I thought: "he meant, physics'", i.e.
>  
>     ... that matter is composed of atoms,  
> which was an ancient metaphysical ... which  
> became a part of [PHYSICS] ...
> 
> But then call me an adherent of Fowler, "Avoid hybrids". If we are speaking  
> of 'metaphysical' (Greek root), we better stick to Greek formations 
> ('physics')  rather than anything else. Should we use 'scientia' (Gk. 'episteme' really) 
> I  would have used 'trans-naturalia' in the previous:
>  
>     ... that matter is composed of atoms,  
> which was an ancient [TRANSNATURALIA] ... which  
> became a part of [SCIENTIA] ...
>  
> etc. but then recall Lucian, "The nature of things" poses a problem!
>  
> --- Anyway, there are zillions of theories as to what Aristotle meant by  
> metaphysics. Oddly, the pirest who introduced me into the subject -- as a  
> teenager myself -- was so cryptic and cynic that he thought (or wanted me to  think) 
> that Aristotle only meant,
>  
>            '[dem books  lying next to the thick volumes of] physics.'
>  
> -- as he would spend half an hour explaining the intrusive 'ta' in "ta meta  
> TA physika" and the fact that 'biblia' was understood tacitly. But then he 
> _was_  a priest!
>  
> ---
>  
> Anyway, now -- to make the long history of philosophy short, I'll pass to  
> Grice:
>  
> * Grice uses 'metaphysical' in various collocations. First with the latest. 
>  
>    -- S. Chapman notes that in the 13 cardboxes ('not necessarily  small') 
> that Grice left in this world, there are a few notes on a book he did  publish 
> in the future called, "Method of Metaphysics", or a new discourse in  
> metaphysics -- 'from Genesis to Revelation'. As years went on, he thought more  and 
> more of himself as Moses.
>  
>    -- 'transubstantion, metaphysic' -- I write it like that, as  to be 
> included in a philosophical lexicon. For Grice, 'metaphysical  transubstantiation' 
> is -- God knows what! One reads his papers in  philosophical psychology, or 
> ethics, even, and one is transmogrified. It all  looks so _constructivist_. 
> There's many _conceptions_ here. But Grice wants to  say that the 'conception' is 
> in the 'conceiving' and that the 'construction'  delivers _entia_! To annoy the 
> critical reader he explains that to cover the  'usages' he'll use 
> 'metaphysical' in that _sense_. (This actually parallels D.  Frederick's good policy of 
> _not_ using 'justification' at all, if one does not  believe in it! -- The 
> reverse: 'use metaphysical if you believe in it!').
>  
>   -- The early Grice, the middle Grice, the latest Grice.
>      If Wittgensteinians had occasional field days  discovering the 
> Wittgenstein No. 6 (alla Chanel), ditto Griceans. The early  Grice we know little of. 
> The early Grice wrote a paper (well, with Strawson and  Pears) that I first 
> found cited in
>  
>                P. Edwards, The Encyclopaedia of Philosophy  (entry, 
> "Metaphysics")
>  
> This paper is called, unimaginatively, 'Metaphysics', and is a chapter in a  
> book unimaginatively titled by D. F. Pears, the editor, "The nature of  
> metaphysics". It was the third-programme lecture at the BBC. I recall I called  the 
> BBC, "I want a transcript in the Listener for the lecture that Grice gave".  
> They told me, "Tomorrow". I was fortunate in finding a copy of the thin Pears  
> volume in the private library of J. C. D'Alessio (who'd been a roommate with  
> Dennett at All Souls), and read the Grice thing. Very illuminative, rather 
> than  illuminating.
>  
>       The middle Grice would be the one concerned  with 'metaphysics' as in 
> Russell's phrase, "Stone-Age metaphysics". I never knew  what that meant. 
> Apparently, Newton dwelled in Caves for Russell. It's only what  Dennett calls 'the 
> old lady of limerick -- in a relative way (*) that is  Bronze.
>  
>       The latest Grice ('never say never', 'latest  vs. late' vs. 'last'). In 
> "Life and Opinions", he writes that, like a more  famous Pilgrim, he found 
> himself in the path towards the Holly of Hollies, but  constantly being attacked 
> by seven (I counted them) _betes noires_. One _is_  empiricism, another (a 
> more fierce one, I hope) is "Naturalism". This destroyed  my panorama. In 
> 'Meaning Revisited', he is claiming that something like what as  early as 1948 
> (notably as a joke on his reading Stevenson, I now realise) called  'natural' 
> (meaning -- but 'meaning' is not important here) _backs_ rather than  is backed by 
> 'non-natural' meaning. (**). To provide consistency, I have to go  shopping 
> with Grice.
>  
> ---. The second part of his monumental "WOW" (Way of Words) is entitled,  
> provocatively, "Studies in Semantics and Metaphysics". How many of the tennish  
> articles are _about_ metaphysics. Notably _one_: "Metaphysics and Philosophical 
>  Eschatology". Alas, his humour is not universal, and I _haven't_ seen a lot 
> of  treatment of this delightful discipline, 'eschatologia philosophica' in 
> places.  Matter of fact, I have, and I hope S. Chapman has reconsidered. She 
> keeps  calling this 'scatological' (and now her book is undergoing the paperback  
> edition). In that essay, written in 1987, Grice lists what he calls 'the  
> shopping list' for metaphysics-cum-philosophical eschatology. It is a suggestion  
> of some areas of research that concern 'metaphysics' not just now defined as 
> a  substantive theory of 'nature' (Naturalism) but more like 'trans-naturalia' 
>  proper. But not in the sense, 'beyond nature'. It's an in-the-works work.  
> Metaphysics, as I think Grice saw it, had to do with constructive remarks on  
> categorial systems as such. More importantly, it had to cover what Strawson 
> both  called 'descriptive' and 'explanatory'. Metaphysics describes categorial 
> schemes  and 'plays' with cross-categorial 'transubstantiations'. If a 
> 'physicist' (***)  says that nature _is_ atoms which have qualia, the metaphysicist 
> will explore  what is meant by 'qualia' and what _loci_ in propositions 'qualium' 
> can hold.  Grice also saw important notions like "Analogy" and "Metaphor" as 
> being part of  the study of Eschatology, Philosophical.
>  
> It's a long way, babe, since Carnap criticised Heidegger's "Nothing noths"!  
> (****)
>  
> ---
>  
> Cheers,
>  
> J. L. Speranza
>  
> * There is this limerick, about this lady who is a firm adherent of  
> relativity-theory. I should find it.
>  
> ** What's natural and non-natural Grice thinks better epithets than what's  
> natural vs. what's artificial. It boils down to 'factiveness'. "The recent  
> budget means we'll have a hard year" he labels 'natural' and you'll grant  
> there's little of 'natural' about it (but his criterion of factiveness  holds: If 
> the recent budget means that we'll have a hard year we'll have a  hard year).
>  
> *** It may do to consider suffixes here: why is 'physicist' for the good  man 
> Eddington but 'physician' for the bad man who invented Parkinson?
>  
> **** "Nichts nichted" -- as criticised by 'positivists' who didn't want  to  
> have anything to do with 'metaphysical'. -- cfr. Popper's demarcations  and 
> Ayer's subtle change from 'positivist' to 'logical empiricist'. It would be  as 
> if he found 'positivism', like Duhem's largism was too French a thing to get  
> digested in Oxon.!
> 
> 
> 
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