[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
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
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!
J. L. Speranza
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