[hist-analytic] Metaphysical Positivism v. Critical Rationalism (Jones v. Frederick)

Baynesr at comcast.net Baynesr at comcast.net
Fri Sep 18 07:50:46 EDT 2009

I'm just finishing the section on the 'private language argument' and its significance to the theory of action. So I can't comment on the details of your page, although I took a good look. However, I thought that in view of the fact that the topic is rationalism, of a sort, you might be amused by the following quote. 

"It may be regarded, afdter a fashion, as a modern fulfillment of Descartes' quest for an absolutely certain basis of science; and indeed Carnap's theory is reminiscent of Descartes' rationalism in more wayst than one. 
Reichenbach ("Linguistic Empiricism in Germany and the Present State of the Problems" in JP. xxxiii, no. 6. March 1936, p.149." 

There was no one who displayed more logical or mathematical rigour at philosophy than Reichenbach. No one supported Reichenbach more strongly than Reichenbach. In fact, Carnap had to modify some of his views owing to Reichenbach just as he had to modify his views in light of Neurath's criticisms regarding "protocol" sentences. 

Just thought you might be amused: Carnap and Descartes; two peas in a pod? So much for Hume! 



----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Roger Bishop Jones" <rbj at rbjones.com> 
To: hist-analytic at simplelists.com 
Sent: Thursday, September 17, 2009 3:54:10 AM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern 
Subject: Metaphysical Positivism v. Critical Rationalism (Jones v. Frederick) 

I have a page on my web-site comparing metaphysical and logical 
positivism (Jones v. Carnap) at: 


This was written a long time ago and I need to review it and 
update it, so if anyone has any comments on it I would be glad 
to have them so I can take them into account. 

I don't think there is anything on my site about Critical Rationalism, 
and I think its time I remedied that by writing a page comparing 
Metaphysical Positivism with Critical Rationalism. 

So I am also interested to hear what anyone thinks on that topic. 

My recent exposure to Critical Rationalism has mainly been in brief 
engagements with Danny Frederick. 
These have been brief, because I have not found Danny willing to 
entertain what I mean rather than to criticise what he would have 
meant by my words if he had uttered them. 
This I consider to be a manifestation of what I now call 
"terminological dogmatism". 

It seems from some of the things Danny has written on hist-analytic 
that he considers himself to be a sceptic. 
I also consider myself to be a sceptic, but find most scepticism, 
including that of Danny, to be tainted by negative dogmas. 

My other recent exposure to Critical Rationalism has been through 
a partial reading of material by W W Bartley from: 

Part III. Rationality, Criticism, and Logic 

My outstanding impression of this work is that it is too rationalistic. 
Bartley seems to me to make sustained attempts to establish conclusively 
by apparently deductive means conclusions which cannot in principle 
be so established. 
If this were typical of critical rationalism then it would show 
a weak appreciation of some of the important insights on the limitations 
of deduction which are exposed at the root of positivism in the writings 
of David Hume. 

As well as having some kind of scepticism in common with critical 
rationalists (a very tenuous connection), I share an appreciation 
of some kind of rationality. 
David Hume's philosophy was useful to romantics opposed to the 
rationalism of the enlightenment and it seems to me that 
a positivistically acceptable rationalism must be founded in 
an acute appreciation of the limits of deduction, which I suspect 
may be deficient in Critical Rationalism. 

Roger Jones 
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