[hist-analytic] Analytic Philosophy of History

Baynesr at comcast.net Baynesr at comcast.net
Sat Sep 18 07:28:54 EDT 2010

When invoking the deities, quote scripture! If you don't quote them, you run risk of blasphemy. We are not blasphemers here. I've encountered, even among top flight philosophers, the inclination to attribute views to a philosopher the philosopher simply didn't hold. Unless you quote scripture or I, easily, recognize it, I remain a skeptic. Sloppy scholarship creates waste. So by all means quote scripture, IF you invoke the name of a philosopher. I've found this to be especially true with Wittgenstein and the Greeks. 



----- Original Message ----- 
From: Jlsperanza at aol.com 
To: hist-analytic at simplelists.co.uk 
Sent: Friday, September 17, 2010 8:18:57 PM 
Subject: Re: Analytic Philosophy of History 

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). 

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