[hist-analytic] Analytic Philosophy of History
Jlsperanza at aol.com
Jlsperanza at aol.com
Fri Sep 17 21:18:57 EDT 2010
Hi Danny, Steve, Ron, and all involved,
----- Danny, do share the ideas of your draft, if you can. I was interested
in your remarks about Popper on social/historical explanation, not because
I'm a historicist but because Bayne showed an interest, and we all should
promote interests of that kind!
---------- It's amazing how Steve and you Danny can quote Popper -- chapter
and verse -- as if he were the bible! (I sometimes quote an Oxonian
philosopher -- whose initials are H. P. G. with some sort of the same degree of
specificity but that's another animal).
---- I'm in a way amused by Frederick mentioning that Popper's vocabulary
is a bit loose ('historical explanations' being 'causal', etc.) and I'm not
sure if Bayne is into analysing Popper with the same level of detail that
he dedicated to her Anscombe!
----------- Yes, Grice has a lot to say about this in his "Actions and
Events" (Pacific Philosophical Quarterly) and I may be able to quote from some
of it. It's just amazing how LITTLE people quote from this essay!
--- For Grice, the issues of a 'unified' sort of account are interesting,
and he too favoured a teleological approach, but I'm sure that pressed to
choose between Kneale and Popper he would go for William Calvert (Kneale)
anyday! --- Grice quotes from Kneale's book on "Probability and Induction" in
"Reply to Richards", but only in connection with some obtuse point in
Grice concluded that 'cause' is possibly just FINAL (cause) --. He makes a
good point, which is so "linguistic turn" it hurts. He notes that the VERY
FIRST and proper use of 'cause' is as in 'rebel without a cause'. Here,
'cause' does not mean that the rebel doesn't have a causal explanation BEHIND
him -- he, or SHE does. What he means is that here it is a cause-to. The
rebel has no cause TO BE a rebel about.
--- Apparently, 'cause' did have this 'finality' idea behind it in the
original Greek ("aitia"). Its use in the natural sciences seems to have
postdated its use in 'anthropological' matters. Latin 'causa' is still another
--- Back to history. Popper seems right in that it all seems rather otiose.
Philosophers should perhaps concentrate on "Social Theory" (alla Winch) at
most. After all, isn't history just 'social history' in the past tense?
---- Oddly, I spent a whole year (as I recall) with my mentor in this area
studying, philosophically, the causes of the French revolution. We failed.
--- Then, my mentor in the philosophy of science, I spent a whole long year
studying, philosophically, the cause of the Copernican revolution. We also
--- I mean, I got good grades, but the arguments displayed were so
"Philosophy of History" is quite a bunch of different theories. Carr my
mentor used to quote a lot ("What is history" -- especially his take on
predictability in history -- no such thing. Plus, he also authored "Cleopatra's
Nose" about, er, the initial conditions and the failure of any covering law
-- "Egyptian ladies with nice noses are bound to destroy your Republic", or
While I favour Winch, I do think that there was, in London, a rather strong
movement of a Popperian account to social explanation -- which may have
been motivated, since Danny Frederick quoted him, Watkins.
But I titled this to honour Danto -- where is he when we need them?!
--- Incidentally, it's all very good to keep quoting from Hempel -- as does
Grice in "Actions and Events". I think a Griceian would hold that while
the 'nomological-deductive' (probabilistic reading) is all very well in
'alethic' necessity, when it comes to 'practical' necessity, it is rather the
'practical' syllogism that should apply, which is SO UNLIKE a theoretical
syllogism that one wonders why keeps calling it a syllogism (Of course I do
endorse the 'EQUIvocality' of 'reason', though -- or the EQUIvocality of
'must', rather -- and the idea that a divide between the two 'cultures' is
Sorry for some confused wording, etc. -- but interpret me charitably!
Now, wait till I re-read all your comments and title the posts accordingly
(hint: what has THIS to do with 'analytic philosophy of history'? Just
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