[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 
metaphysics.
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  
animal, though.
--- 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 
 failed. 
--- I mean, I got good grades, but the arguments displayed were so  
confused! 
 
"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 
 something. 
 
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 
perhaps  overrated!).
 
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 
teasing). 
 
Speranza
 
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