[hist-analytic] Analytic Philosophy: Oxonian Varieties
Baynesr at comcast.net
Baynesr at comcast.net
Mon Aug 10 09:22:12 EDT 2009
Yes, McKeon went to all the Western Division meetings I went to, which
was about five or so. He was often there with his daughter who kept watch
over him in his later years. I've always been curious about this episode
because it led to the Ideas and Methods Dept. at Chicago, so the story
goes. The reports I've heard are always skewed towards Carnap, who
reportedly had a command knowledge of Latin, at one point embarrassing
McKeon; so the story goes. If McKeon had not started that other department,
people like Hannah Arendt would never have gone to Chicago, I don't
I was there only very briefly; I was a high school drop out (married at 17)
and very political in those days. So I was an interloper at most of the
colleges in the area. I thought Illinois at Chicago Circle was a superb
school with a great department. There was a vitality there that, seemed,
to equal any other school around. Those were days of enormoust energy
and passion for philosophy. It was at Roosevelt University that I first
picked up your first book. I had found Sellars opaque, eg. his formal
stuff in Phil. Perspectives. But he and Bergmann were, along with
Russell, my idols. Bergmann, of course, was "difficult," but he set very
high standards. I'll have a piece in the book on a discussion I had
with him concerning an exchange between Brodbeck and Anscombe.
Brodbeck's indexes to Bergmann are models of near perfection.
But McKeon had a reputation as a tough teacher. However, I once told
him I was having difficulty with Greek and he offered the following
slightly strange suggestion. He suggested that the amount of Greek
philosophy was finite and that I could conceivably just learn the bare
grammar, rely on Liddell-Scott, and plow through it. I thought to myself,
"Yeah, in a thousand years!" But it was an interesting idea. I "dropped" to
Latin where the verb is easier, for sure.
Yes, I recall your doing translations; I think of Plato. I've always gone
to Shorey for some things. Seems pretty literal, easy to follow etc.
I've been thinking of putting up Cornford's translation etc. of
I used to be very interested in science. When I was about 12 I won
the Chicago Science fair in my division for an invention I had. Indeed
it was a working model. I lost interest; went towards philosophy.
People wanted me to do law, and maybe I should have, but then
I read Plato's take on lawyers and sophists and went back to being
a "truth seeker." Many years later I saw an implemented version
of my invention. It was the monorail air train with magnetic support.
Back in the fifties they were called "ground effect machines." I used
magnets to achieve the lift required for a long train.
I don't regret spending what most philosophers would call an inordinate
amount of time on history. Sellars did a lot of work here and I think his
careful reading of Kant payed dividends. One other thing on this.
Philosophers who work vicariously in physics have really done very
little. The two great physicists, in my opinion, who were actually
good at philosophy were Weyl and Bohm. Shimony, also, is good.
But for the most part, they are popularizers with a bit of a philosophical
twist that depends on the latest fad in Physical Review, or so it
After this book project I intend to expend my last energies at exploring
new areas in phil. science. It is a great field. Emile Meyerson and
Bohm are, I think, accessible to philosophers who are not
"pseudo-scientists." In fact, I think there are some interesting dualistic
models that are entirely consistent with physical theory; more on that
----- Original Message -----
From: "Bruce Aune" <aune at philos.umass.edu>
To: Baynesr at comcast.net
Cc: hist-analytic at simplelists.co.uk
Sent: Monday, August 10, 2009 8:02:36 AM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern
Subject: Re: Analytic Philosophy: Oxonian Varieties
I never knew McKeon, though I saw him at Western Division APA meetings
in the early 60's. I heard a lot about him, however, from people at
Minnesota, who were very critical of him. I can imagine Carnap not
wanting to approve a thesis on an argument that the thesis-writer
could not competently evaluate. When I was a student of Carnap's and,
indeed, throughout my teaching career, I was a strong advocate of
making the history of philosophy a large component of philosophical
education. I can still see its relevance to serious philosophical
work, but I now regret that I spent so much time on it. I would have
been better served, I think, if I had spent more time on mathematics
and physics. In spite of this. I continue to spend an inordinate
amount of time translating Plato's Greek!
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