[hist-analytic] A Scientist's Landscape

Baynesr at comcast.net Baynesr at comcast.net
Wed Jul 22 07:28:27 EDT 2009


Primary source reading is time consuming. It takes a very 
long time to achieve familiarity with the literature. However, 
there are some good shortcuts. I think I mentioned 
Kneale and Kneale's _Development of Logic_. 
It comes in for some criticism, but the first third on 
Logic before Boole is, really, very worthwhile and is a lot 
more interesting than wading through the _Posterior 
(or Prior) Analytics_. I highly recommend it. 

The notion of substance is something one must, I think, 
be captivated by in order to understand. Historical 
questions abound. Sellars, one of those philosophers 
you learn from rather just struggle with, is a good illustration 
of what good can come out of understanding the historical 
issues, such as those related to Kant. H. H. Price was 
another. 

It may be the case that all philosophy is is a conflation 
of "pseudo-problems," but I think this is the easy way 
out. All you have to do is develop some criterion for 
being a "pseudo-problem," e.g. verifiability, etc and then 
you can just apply your mechanical pseudo-problem 
solver and all is well. I know of no "pseudo-problem 
detector" that doesn't rely on a linguistic approach to 
traditional problems. I, myself, make serious use of 
linguistic techniques for trying to solve a problem, but 
rarely if ever (a few exceptions) consider linguistic 
solutions. Rather it is a methodology in attempting to 
unearth connections. 

On meaning: I think Grice actually allows us to set this 
notion aside for the most part and pursue philosophy. 
Let's not confuse logic and language. Logic supplies 
a good tool. But if you look at the history of philosophy 
of science you find instances where a preoccupation 
with meaning has had a stultifying effect. A good 
example in my opinion is the issue of causation. 
Here the notion of a law becomes a linguistic notion. 
This leads to the appearance of progress, then 
falters; there being no where to go. You solve 
the problems with a linguistic or logical "gizmo" 
without even understanding what is at issue, once 
that is the "pseudo-problem" detector buzzes. 
One finds the brown spot on the apple without 
ever tasting an apple. The only way to know if the 
apple is good is to taste it; the brown spot may 
be part of the natural color. Philosophers sometimes 
feel compelled to solve the problems of philosophy 
in a single life time. A physicist would never think 
this way. Pseudo-problem methodology is the 
attempt at a shortcut. Won't work. 

Regards 


Steve 
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Roger Bishop Jones" <rbj at rbjones.com> 
To: Baynesr at comcast.net 
Cc: "hist-analytic" <hist-analytic at simplelists.co.uk> 
Sent: Tuesday, July 21, 2009 2:45:36 AM GMT -08:00 US/Canada Pacific 
Subject: Re: A Scientist's Landscape 

Interesting to see Steve mention so many different notions 
of substance in Aristotle. 
My own Aristotelian efforts are greatly handicapped at 
present by my having read so little of the primary sources, 
a problem which I hope in due course to remedy. 
(one might say something similar of my knowledge of any 
philosopher at all! how absurd that I am contemplating 
a history, even if only of aspects of philosophical logic) 

On Saturday 18 July 2009 12:27:04 Baynesr at comcast.net wrote: 

>When philosphers speak of a problem as a "pseudo-problem" 
>I'm inclined to run as fast from him as I do from people who say 
>God speaks to them! 

Ah, but surely the problem of pseudo-problems is real! 

I looked back to see what I said on pseudo-problems in 
my comparison of Metaphysical Positivism and Logical Positivism. 
(http://rbjones.com/rbjpub/philos/x003.html) 
Though I do talk about pseudo-problems there, because I 
am making a comparison with Carnap, I'm not much inclined 
to engage in a witch hunt or to use the terminology myself. 
There are conditions which one must meet for sound deductive 
reasoning, and my inclination is to promulgate a method of 
analysis which complies with these conditions. 

Having said that, even though I'm not inclined to make 
much of it, I do think that most philosophy is unsound 
or meaningless or both, and that philosophers should be 
concerned about this! 

Let me add, that the dismissal of one philosophers views 
by another who regards it as meaningless is not confined 
to positivists, and I am under the impression that I 
have suffered this kind of dismissal at your hands more 
than once. 
As soon as I start talking about "meaning" you beat 
a hasty retreat, apparently abandoning any attempt to 
understand what I am saying. 

>One other "stream of consciousness" remark: the predication issue 
>really goes back to Plato's _Sophist_. Kneale and Kneale, actually, 
>locate the origins of the syllogism by going back to this. 
>_The Development of Logic_. 

I had a poke around in Google books, but didn't find 
a lot of enlightenment. 
The Grice paper does provide Plato at third or fourth hand, 
since its Code's presentation of Aristotle's account of Plato's 
metaphysics (as well as his own). 
However, I have still not understood most of what Code actually 
says, and don't understand the detail of what his formal material 
is trying to say about the relationship between Plato and Aristotle. 

RBJ 
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