[hist-analytic] Hume Is Where The Heart Is

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Sat May 23 19:21:24 EDT 2009


I was pleased to read S. Bayne's post and B. Aune's response to it. No  
Hume! 

Yes, I realise S. Bayne is typically addressing all his  commentaries to 
the intelligent reader who _will_ get the Hume.

This  reminds me of ... guess who. Grice. In one of the essays in the 
_second_ part of  WOW, "Explorations in semantics and metaphysics" he reprints an 
older (much  older) piece that he wrote when discussing one wonders what. 
(I don't). One  criticism concerns the use of 'cause'. He must be having 
_Hume_ in mind, but I  don't think he feels the need to quote him. I think 
Grice's point is that  

x causes y

is 'anthropomorphic' or  animist in nature, i.e. as involving a

x  wills y

but I would have to unbury the Greek for things like "x causes  y". Aitia 
is the noun (causa in Latin, 'cosa' in Italian, thing -- ain't that  idle?) 
but one wonders about the _verb_. Verbs do the trick.

---- In any  case this a good memento (as any) to reconsider _Ayer's_ Hume. 
If Ayer did not  go the way of Carnap, etc. it was, I submit, for his love 
of Home  (Hume).

For the Viennese positivists _know_ or knew of Hume, but they  didn't 
really _love_ him as a true Brit that Ayer was did. 

So the  Viennese talk of 'observational' predicate, or 'verifiable by 
Experience' was  loosely used. Ayer took the _empiricist_ root of all problems 
back to  Hume.

It's no wonder that after his "Language, Truth and Logic" he got  more and 
more serious with "The problem of knowledge", "Empirical Knowledge",  etc. 
He thought this would reconcile him with the Brit tradition, and it did:  the 
Oxford way: J. L. Austin kept repudiating Ayer's simplicities in much of 
his  _Sense and Sensibilia_!

Grice wrote a paper with J. C. Haugeland on "The  Vagaries of Personal 
Identity for Hume". Haugeland made a name for hisself [sic]  later as an 
anti-computationalist.

And back to 'positivistic' metaphysics  -- how much of it is Humean. While 
I did quote from Strawson and Grice, perhaps  the clearest _anti-Humean_ 
metaphysics comes from New Zealand: Romano Harre and  his idea of "powers" in 
_things_: Aristotelian to the core.

Finally, Grice has a 'metaphysical routine' I think he calls it, called  
"Humean projection", which is, simply, to think of, say, value, as not really  
_out there_. Have you noticed the importance of the _there_ in English  
existentials: "There are fairies at the bottom of the garden". It's never "Here 
 is". ('Here is Benny Hill"). 
 
So, 'value' is not really out there (cfr. Quine, "On What There Is"). But  
it may be a Humean projection. This is the soft type of weak 'metaphysical'  
transubstantiation Grice allows: one _thinks_ value. One _projects_ value. 
Then  there _is_ value. The rationes essendi are constituted by rationes 
cogitandi (as  he also puts it). His metaphysical views, seeing that he agrees 
with Humean  projection, are best then seen as 'constructivist'. I hope R. 
B. Jones will like  that!

Cheers,

J. L. Speranza
 
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