UP

2005-01-06

So far so bad.

Of course its good to write something but a philosophical journal can't really consist in starting a new book every day and chucking in the towel at midnight.

So I guess I have to be writing something else as well.

What would that be (I can chew it over here I guess).

We start with a formalistic positivism, the things which we can really nail down are those which are formalisable, mathematics or formalisable mathematical theories about the contingent world (models). When you look into it this domain has a fuzzy boundary and this is of course an interesting, and not necessarily a thin, boundary. So the semantics of set theory and difficult questions about large cardinals and cardinal arithmetic lie in here, together with the question of whether and how set theory might be universal, and if not what else is there.

Parenthetically I observe here that what I am doing is identifying problems. That the positivistic element involves being able to tell a good problem from a bad one, but this should not involve labelling hard problems as bad. Possibly the philosophically most interesting problems are interesting precisely because the problem (not the solution) is hard to pin down.

When I started out, wanting to "write", I was trying to write about things like politics and economics. I gave this up in search of something less speculative. But, positivist though I might think myself, speculation is where I belong.

Now back then I had this idea that speculation was a complement to skepticism. Logically skepticism about the necessary admits speculation about the possible. I don't know that this somewhat academic point ever connected materially with what I wanted to say about politics, economics and morals (say) but in those days I didn't think of myself as a positivist.

So here's the generic problem, as it were. In subject matters howsoever uncooperative: \begin{itemize} \item what can be done with formality? \item what else is there to be done? \item how on earth can one hope to do it? \end{itemize}


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