Organon and Metaphysic
My deepest thrust into theoretical philosophy.
Carnap and Aristotle

For a long time I have been an advocate of a kind of analytic philosophy not far removed from that of Rudolf Carnap. In that conception the role of the philosopher seems to be primarily methodological, and Carnap's particular interest was in furthering the adoption of formal logical methods in the empirical sciences. Carnap took Russell to have done this for mathematics, and to have advocated logically rigorous methods in philosophy. Carnap advocated such methods not only in mathematics and philosophy, but also for empirical sciences.

Of course Carnap is infamous for his attacks on metaphysics, but when on looks into the conception of Metaphysics which Carnap opposed, one finds it narrowly circumscribed. It was characterised principally as the synthetic a priori which in Carnap usage of these terms was necessarily non-existent, or the meaningless (and his later conceptions of meaning are not closely connected with empirical verifiability). Its not clear that there might not have been investigations which some people would have regarded as metaphysical and which were nevertheless not covered by Carnap's reservations, not proscribed by him because not seen as metaphysics.

For example, Strawson's descriptive metaphysics might be regarded as an empirical analysis of some of the concepts fundamental to ordinary language, and hence not to constitute metaphysics in Carnap's termimology or to fall under his proscription.

Could Carnap conceivably ever have found merit in Aristotle's "Metaphysics"?

If we consider the procedure advocated by Carnap, for example in his "Empiricism Semantics and Ontology", when establishing some new language for science, and adopt this procedure in a rational reconstruction of Aristotle's metaphysical language, then one could plausibly construct a formal model of Aristolelian metaphysics which complied with Carnap's recommendations. The question would then arise as to the merits of this language; whether and for what purposes it might actually be adopted. This question, according to Carnap could be settled on a purely pragmatic basis. Adopt if found to be useful.

Aristotle himself did not think of metaphysics as constituting a useful system of thought. In fact his criteria for "first philosophy" (which is what he called the metaphysics) excluded anything done for practical reasons. Aristotle sought truth, regardless of utility.

For a long time I have held a position in many ways similar to that of Carnap, while recognising that many possible kinds of "metaphysics" might be consistent with that position. I went back to Aristotle in the course of tracing the history of concepts which I took to be key to a contemporary articulation of analytic method. Aristotle's contribution to analytic method is to be found not only in his Organon, but also in his Metaphysics, where he addresses first principles, including those which underpin analytic method.

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