[hist-analytic] A Scientist's Landscape

Roger Bishop Jones rbj at rbjones.com
Mon Jul 27 11:17:04 EDT 2009

On Sunday 26 July 2009 22:05:15 Baynesr at comcast.net wrote:
> you make
> statements I can't really accept without a good source. For example, you
> say,
>"Carnap defines necessity in terms of analyticity"

That probably should have been "defines necessity in terms logical truth",
which is the same thing for Carnap.
There is a nice explanation of this in the Schilpp volume in the last
paragaph of page 65.

This I take to be Carnap's mature view, though I am not aware of his
ever having taken a contrary view, though he might have expressed it
in many ways.

>This illustrates what a complicated story we have: 'necessity' in terms of
> 'analyticity''; 'analyticity' in terms of 'L-truth' etc.

This seems to be simple to me!

> And this is just one stage in his development.

But when did he ever hold a substantively different position
on this topic?

> Pseudo-problems enter as a class before
> Tarski, which initiated profound changes in his views, eventuating in a
> semantics of intensions that may very well carrya metaphysical aspect.
> After all, if we take pseudo-problems as resulting from using
> pseudo-statements in a certain way and pseudo-statements as statements
> lacking cognitive content; and those lacking cognitive contents as being is
> some sense not confirmable or verified or in some way grounded in
> experience, then what IS the "cognitive content" of a statement about
> intensions. Again, if we are doing a study of Carnap we have a mess if for
> no other reason than, like Russell, he was prolific.

Carnap was surely quite clear that the propositions of analytic
philosophy are analytic.
Carnap's philosophy seems to be coherent in its principle themes
and to develop in an orderly way throughout his life.
It ends up somewhere very different, in detail, from where he
started, but in a much more credible place, and though it is
quite uncommon to do so, I think it proper to judge him by his
final position, to which the Schilpp volume is presumably a
reasonable guide.

On the ontological question he took great pains to make
himself clear, I believe he succeeded and I am aware of
no philosopher who has a better position or who has found
(what I consider to be) significant problems in his stance.

>But if we are interested in problem solving then as much as I think the
> history is crucial we have to move on. There is a very complex and
> beautiful story to be told relating Russell's principle of acquaintance to
> verificationism and this later to the whole issue of "pseudo-questions." A
> lot depends, and here I borrow from the usage of the linguists, on your
> "technologies." So do you accept intensions?

Following Carnap, I would have to defer until you make clear what you
suppose them to be!  We have no objection to them in principle.

> Do you accept classes, worlds,
> concepts, objects, functions etc? All of this gets thrown into the soup.

But for Russell these are all "logical fictions" and I would
be inclined to go further and regard ontology in its entirety
as conventional (with some caveats).

> If I am puzzled by questions of imminent causation, for example, I am not
> discouraged by the latest "rage" over substance or the lack of it. Pursue
> the problem. Then if current fashion looks attractive try it on, but don't
> be discouraged about metaphysics because on Carnap's view or any other the
> question is meaningless.

Carnap's mature position is so accomodating that it has little
tendency to inhibit constructive metaphysics.

> Let me explain autobiographically how I got to
> THIS position.
>In high school I picked up a copy of Kan't first Critique. We had a first
> class high school library, everyone from Leó Szilárd to Darwin, from
> Kropotkin to Plato. So I pick up Kant. I look at the thing. I can't
> understand it. I was fluent in English. I asked myself "what is the
> problem." I went to college. I was told by my ordinary language teachers
> that this was all "metaphsical nonsense." The next semester the same guy is
> assigned the task of teaching Kant. "This ought be interesting!" I say to
> myself.
>Well it was. Kant came to life. The anti-metaphysical stance of Kant became
> a "pseudo-problematic" on in Phil. 303. It was not problematic in Phil.
> 311. So what was I to do? Answer: pursue the problem, forget the "program."
> And that is what I'm saying here. The problem of agent causation is not a
> pseudo problem, but I don't think quantification with identity tacked on to
> an improvised formal semantics is going to solve this or any other problem.
> Nor is rejecting the problem on extraneous programmatic considerations an
> option. Nor, even, is science. Causation is not, really, an issue for
> science.

If you can make sense of it, by all means.

>I conclude witht two terse sounding comments. We are friendly enough that
> I'm sure you will take them in stride. First, it is clear that you haven't
> taken a close look at the Logical Syntax of Language.

I'd be interested to know why you think that clear.
However, it is true.
I have read his "Philosophy of Logical Syntax", and take this to be
a reasonable account of the philosophical side of the work.
My notes on this are at:
and if anyone thinks I got the wrong end of the stick then
I would be very pleased to hear from them.

> This is, probably,
> Carnap's most important book. The last chapters, the one I referred to is
> on Hist-Analytic. Take a look.

As it happens I have these on my laptop and I have looked
over them.  At first glance the philosophical material
looks very similar to that in "Philosophy and Logical Syntax".

I doubt that I will ever find the time to read LSL,
I am much more interested in Carnap's mature position
than in his early philosophy, but in any case I have
no pretensions to scholarship, and will read only what
seems to my helpful for my own projects.

> Second, I don't believe there are abstract
> objects, so I don't believe there are abstract worlds. Remember the origin
> of "abstract." It is from the Latin verb meaning to "drag." ('trahere' I
> think, have to check). So if a world is abstract from what is it "dragged"?

It makes no difference to me whether or not abstract objects
exist, I care only that their supposition is consistent and useful.
Your denial of their existence has great disutility because it
makes difficult a discussion of semantics or mathematics
(and many other topics).

As to what they are, they are exactly whatever we consistently
suppose them to be (in the context of that supposition).
The origin of the word is of no consequence for the usage
which I endorse.


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