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THE PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE. An Introduction.
THE PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE. An Introduction.
by Stephen Toulmin
Edition: Paperback
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5.0 out of 5 stars AN “INTRODUCTORY” BOOK ON THIS SUBJECT, March 4, 2015
Stephen Edelston Toulmin (1922-2009) was a British philosopher, author, and educator, who taught at a number of universities in both England and the United States.

He wrote in the Preface to this 1953 book, “Science and philosophy meet at innumerable points, and are related in countless ways. This philosophy of science has, accordingly, been taken to cover a wide variety of things, ranging from a branch of symbolic logic to the propagation of secularist gospels. Writing a brief introduction to such an amorphous subject is a task of some delicacy, since, in order to avoid being completely superficial, one is forced to limit one’s field of attention, and so to set up landmarks where at present none are to be found. In making my own selection, I have particularly kept in mind the audience for which the series is intended: the topics chosen and the manner of treatment are primarily designed to meet the needs of University students in philosophy, and so assume no special knowledge either of mathematics or of natural science. At the same time, I hope that the book will have its interest for the general reader.”

He states, “In practice… a theory is felt to be entirely satisfactory only if the mathematical calculus is supplemented by an intelligible model. It is not enough that one should have ways of arguing from the circumstances of any phenomenon to its characteristics, or vice versa: the mathematical theory may be an excellent way of expressing the relations we study, but to understand them… one must have also some clearly intelligible way of conceiving the physical systems we study.” (Pg. 34-35)

He explains, “laws of nature resemble other kinds of laws, rules and regulations. These are not themselves true of false, though statements about their range of application can be… This must not be misunderstood. Suppose one says that laws of nature are not true, or probable; that these terms are indeed not even applicable to them; and that scientists are accordingly not interested in the question of the ‘truth’ of laws of nature---all of which might fairly be said: one does not thereby deny the obvious, namely, that scientists seek for the truth.” (Pg. 79)

He says, “The statements which we meet… will be of two kinds: on the one hand, laws of nature, and on the other, statements about how far and in what circumstances these laws have been found to hold. Neither of these classes of statement need, or can, be spoken of as ‘only highly probable’: the experimental reports are not unlimited generalizations, but simple statements of past fact, while the laws of nature are not the sorts of thing we can speak of as true, false or probable at all. Yet both can reasonably be called empirical” (Pg. 82)

He observes, “The absence of the term ‘cause’ from the professional writings of physicists can therefore be explained. But this explanation in its turn creates a fresh problem: for if the prime aim of the physical sciences is not the discovery of causes or causal chains, what are we to make of the elaborate discussions of causality and indeterminacy provoked, e.g., by quantum mechanics? … the idea of causality reigning unchallenged seems to be accepted by philosophical scientists so long as the basic theories of the time appear capable, in principle, of explaining all the things it is hoped eventually to explain.” (Pg. 123)

He suggests, “At times, indeed, the Uniformity Principle has been treated almost as a manifesto, or as the statement of a programme; as if one said, ‘There are always uniformities which remain to be discovered.’ So understood, to say that physicists believe in the Uniformity of Nature will be to say, not that they have had some success in the past, nor that their present procedures are methodical; but rather that they are optimistic, and have hopes of getting somewhere in the future.” (Pg. 152)

This book will be of keen interest to anyone interested in the philosophy of science.


Individuals: An Essay in Descriptive Metaphysics
Individuals: An Essay in Descriptive Metaphysics
by P. F. Strawson
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars THE ANALYTIC PHILOSOPHER LOOKS AT “PERSONS,” AND AT MATERIAL BODIES, March 4, 2015
Peter Frederick Strawson (1919 -2006) was an English philosopher who taught at the University of Oxford (Magdalen College) from 1968 until his retirement in 1987.

[NOTE: page numbers below refer to a 263-page paperback edition.]

He wrote in the Preface to this 1959 book, “This book is based on lectures which were originally given in Oxford University in 1954-1955 and were later used as material for a seminar in Duke University, N. Carolina in 1955-1956. He wrote in the Introduction, Metaphysics has been often revisionary, and less often descriptive. Descriptive metaphysics is content to describe the actual structure of our thought about the world, revisionary metaphysics is concerned to produce a better structure… This book is… an essay in descriptive metaphysics… It seemed to me natural to divide the book into two parts. The first part aims at establishing the central position which material bodies and persons occupy among particulars in general. It shows that, in our conceptual scheme as it is, particulars of these two categories are the basic or fundamental particulars, that the concepts of other types of particular must be seen as secondary in relation to the concepts of these. In the second part of the book the aim is to establish and explain the connection between the idea of a particular in general and that of an object of reference of logical subject.”

He states, “I have in in mind… a very central thought: viz. that it is a necessary condition of one’s ascribing states of consciousness, experiences, to oneself, in the way one does, that one should also ascribe them, or be prepared to ascribe them, to others who are not oneself.” (Pg. 94) He continues, “To put it briefly. One can ascribe states of consciousness to oneself only if one can ascribe them to others. One can ascribe them to others only if one can identify other subjects of experience. And one cannot identify others if one can identify them ONLY as subjects of experience, possessors of states of consciousness.” (Pg. 96)

He admits, “These remarks are not intended to suggest how the ‘problem of other minds’ could be solved, or our beliefs about others given a general philosophical ‘justification.’ I have already argued that such a ‘solution’ or ‘justification’ is impossible, that the demand for it cannot be coherently stated.” (Pg. 109)

He says of the possibility of a “disembodied” survival of the individual, “At the limit of attenuation there is, from the point of view of his survival as an individual, no difference between the continuance of experience and its cessation. Disembodied survival, on such terms as these, may well seem unattractive. No doubt it is for this reason that the orthodox have wisely insisted on the resurrection of the body.” (Pg. 113)

He argues, “Roughly speaking, the primary conceptual scheme must be one which puts people in the world. A conceptual scheme which, instead, puts a world in each person must be, at least, a secondary product. For all these reasons taken together I shall not allow for either spatial or temporal entities cannot allow for particulars at all. An ontology which could be taken seriously only by God is not to count to count as a possible ontology.” (Pg. 124)

He summarizes, “The identifying introduction of either a particular or a universal into discourse entails knowing what particular or what universal is meant, or intended to be introduced, by the introducing expression. Knowing what particular is meant entails knowing, of sometimes… learning, from the introducing expression used, some empirical fact which suffices to identify that particular, other than the fact that it is the particular currently being introduced. But knowing what universal is meant does no in the same way entail knowing any empirical fact: it merely entails knowing the language.” (Pg. 189)

He concludes, “At the beginning of this book, I was concerned to bring out the central position held among particulars by material bodies. They appeared as the basic particulars from the point of view of identification. Later I added… the category of persons. The admission of this category as primitive and underived appeared as a necessary condition of our membership of a non-solipsistic world… it appears that a central place among particulars must be accorded to material bodies and to persons. These must be the primary particulars. In the latter part of the book… I found that particulars held a central position among logical subjects because the particular was the paradigm of a logical subject… we obtain, perhaps, a rational account of the central position of materials bodies and persons among individuals, i.e. among things in general. I noticed also… the close connection between the idea of an individual in the logical sense, and the idea of existence, of what exists; so perhaps may even be said to have found some reason in the idea that persons and material bodies are what primarily exist… So if metaphysics is the finding of reasons, good, bad or indifferent, for what we believe on instinct, then this has been metaphysics.” (Pg. 256-257)

This book will be of great interest to those studying contemporary analytic philosophy.


Individuals An Essay in Descriptive Metaphysics
Individuals An Essay in Descriptive Metaphysics
by P.F. Strawson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
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5.0 out of 5 stars THE ANALYTIC PHILOSOPHER LOOKS AT “PERSONS,” AND AT MATERIAL BODIES, March 4, 2015
Peter Frederick Strawson (1919 -2006) was an English philosopher who taught at the University of Oxford (Magdalen College) from 1968 until his retirement in 1987.

He wrote in the Preface to this 1959 book, “This book is based on lectures which were originally given in Oxford University in 1954-1955 and were later used as material for a seminar in Duke University, N. Carolina in 1955-1956. He wrote in the Introduction, Metaphysics has been often revisionary, and less often descriptive. Descriptive metaphysics is content to describe the actual structure of our thought about the world, revisionary metaphysics is concerned to produce a better structure… This book is… an essay in descriptive metaphysics… It seemed to me natural to divide the book into two parts. The first part aims at establishing the central position which material bodies and persons occupy among particulars in general. It shows that, in our conceptual scheme as it is, particulars of these two categories are the basic or fundamental particulars, that the concepts of other types of particular must be seen as secondary in relation to the concepts of these. In the second part of the book the aim is to establish and explain the connection between the idea of a particular in general and that of an object of reference of logical subject.”

He states, “I have in in mind… a very central thought: viz. that it is a necessary condition of one’s ascribing states of consciousness, experiences, to oneself, in the way one does, that one should also ascribe them, or be prepared to ascribe them, to others who are not oneself.” (Pg. 94) He continues, “To put it briefly. One can ascribe states of consciousness to oneself only if one can ascribe them to others. One can ascribe them to others only if one can identify other subjects of experience. And one cannot identify others if one can identify them ONLY as subjects of experience, possessors of states of consciousness.” (Pg. 96)

He admits, “These remarks are not intended to suggest how the ‘problem of other minds’ could be solved, or our beliefs about others given a general philosophical ‘justification.’ I have already argued that such a ‘solution’ or ‘justification’ is impossible, that the demand for it cannot be coherently stated.” (Pg. 109)

He says of the possibility of a “disembodied” survival of the individual, “At the limit of attenuation there is, from the point of view of his survival as an individual, no difference between the continuance of experience and its cessation. Disembodied survival, on such terms as these, may well seem unattractive. No doubt it is for this reason that the orthodox have wisely insisted on the resurrection of the body.” (Pg. 113)

He argues, “Roughly speaking, the primary conceptual scheme must be one which puts people in the world. A conceptual scheme which, instead, puts a world in each person must be, at least, a secondary product. For all these reasons taken together I shall not allow for either spatial or temporal entities cannot allow for particulars at all. An ontology which could be taken seriously only by God is not to count to count as a possible ontology.” (Pg. 124)

He summarizes, “The identifying introduction of either a particular or a universal into discourse entails knowing what particular or what universal is meant, or intended to be introduced, by the introducing expression. Knowing what particular is meant entails knowing, of sometimes… learning, from the introducing expression used, some empirical fact which suffices to identify that particular, other than the fact that it is the particular currently being introduced. But knowing what universal is meant does no in the same way entail knowing any empirical fact: it merely entails knowing the language.” (Pg. 189)

He concludes, “At the beginning of this book, I was concerned to bring out the central position held among particulars by material bodies. They appeared as the basic particulars from the point of view of identification. Later I added… the category of persons. The admission of this category as primitive and underived appeared as a necessary condition of our membership of a non-solipsistic world… it appears that a central place among particulars must be accorded to material bodies and to persons. These must be the primary particulars. In the latter part of the book… I found that particulars held a central position among logical subjects because the particular was the paradigm of a logical subject… we obtain, perhaps, a rational account of the central position of materials bodies and persons among individuals, i.e. among things in general. I noticed also… the close connection between the idea of an individual in the logical sense, and the idea of existence, of what exists; so perhaps may even be said to have found some reason in the idea that persons and material bodies are what primarily exist… So if metaphysics is the finding of reasons, good, bad or indifferent, for what we believe on instinct, then this has been metaphysics.” (Pg. 256-257)

This book will be of great interest to those studying contemporary analytic philosophy.


Individuals
Individuals
by P. F. Strawson
Edition: Paperback
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5.0 out of 5 stars THE ANALYTIC PHILOSOPHER LOOKS AT “PERSONS,” AND AT MATERIAL BODIES, March 4, 2015
This review is from: Individuals (Paperback)
THE ANALYTIC PHILOSOPHER LOOKS AT “PERSONS,” AND AT MATERIAL BODIES
Peter Frederick Strawson (1919 -2006) was an English philosopher who taught at the University of Oxford (Magdalen College) from 1968 until his retirement in 1987.

He wrote in the Preface to this 1959 book, “This book is based on lectures which were originally given in Oxford University in 1954-1955 and were later used as material for a seminar in Duke University, N. Carolina in 1955-1956. He wrote in the Introduction, Metaphysics has been often revisionary, and less often descriptive. Descriptive metaphysics is content to describe the actual structure of our thought about the world, revisionary metaphysics is concerned to produce a better structure… This book is… an essay in descriptive metaphysics… It seemed to me natural to divide the book into two parts. The first part aims at establishing the central position which material bodies and persons occupy among particulars in general. It shows that, in our conceptual scheme as it is, particulars of these two categories are the basic or fundamental particulars, that the concepts of other types of particular must be seen as secondary in relation to the concepts of these. In the second part of the book the aim is to establish and explain the connection between the idea of a particular in general and that of an object of reference of logical subject.”

He states, “I have in in mind… a very central thought: viz. that it is a necessary condition of one’s ascribing states of consciousness, experiences, to oneself, in the way one does, that one should also ascribe them, or be prepared to ascribe them, to others who are not oneself.” (Pg. 94) He continues, “To put it briefly. One can ascribe states of consciousness to oneself only if one can ascribe them to others. One can ascribe them to others only if one can identify other subjects of experience. And one cannot identify others if one can identify them ONLY as subjects of experience, possessors of states of consciousness.” (Pg. 96)

He admits, “These remarks are not intended to suggest how the ‘problem of other minds’ could be solved, or our beliefs about others given a general philosophical ‘justification.’ I have already argued that such a ‘solution’ or ‘justification’ is impossible, that the demand for it cannot be coherently stated.” (Pg. 109)

He says of the possibility of a “disembodied” survival of the individual, “At the limit of attenuation there is, from the point of view of his survival as an individual, no difference between the continuance of experience and its cessation. Disembodied survival, on such terms as these, may well seem unattractive. No doubt it is for this reason that the orthodox have wisely insisted on the resurrection of the body.” (Pg. 113)

He argues, “Roughly speaking, the primary conceptual scheme must be one which puts people in the world. A conceptual scheme which, instead, puts a world in each person must be, at least, a secondary product. For all these reasons taken together I shall not allow for either spatial or temporal entities cannot allow for particulars at all. An ontology which could be taken seriously only by God is not to count to count as a possible ontology.” (Pg. 124)

He summarizes, “The identifying introduction of either a particular or a universal into discourse entails knowing what particular or what universal is meant, or intended to be introduced, by the introducing expression. Knowing what particular is meant entails knowing, of sometimes… learning, from the introducing expression used, some empirical fact which suffices to identify that particular, other than the fact that it is the particular currently being introduced. But knowing what universal is meant does no in the same way entail knowing any empirical fact: it merely entails knowing the language.” (Pg. 189)

He concludes, “At the beginning of this book, I was concerned to bring out the central position held among particulars by material bodies. They appeared as the basic particulars from the point of view of identification. Later I added… the category of persons. The admission of this category as primitive and underived appeared as a necessary condition of our membership of a non-solipsistic world… it appears that a central place among particulars must be accorded to material bodies and to persons. These must be the primary particulars. In the latter part of the book… I found that particulars held a central position among logical subjects because the particular was the paradigm of a logical subject… we obtain, perhaps, a rational account of the central position of materials bodies and persons among individuals, i.e. among things in general. I noticed also… the close connection between the idea of an individual in the logical sense, and the idea of existence, of what exists; so perhaps may even be said to have found some reason in the idea that persons and material bodies are what primarily exist… So if metaphysics is the finding of reasons, good, bad or indifferent, for what we believe on instinct, then this has been metaphysics.” (Pg. 256-257)

This book will be of great interest to those studying contemporary analytic philosophy.


Essays on Actions and Events
Essays on Actions and Events
by Donald Davidson
Edition: Paperback
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5.0 out of 5 stars A COLLECTION OF ESSAYS ABOUT "THE ROLE OF CAUSAL CONCEPTS IN HUMAN ACTION", March 2, 2015
Donald Herbert Davidson (1917-2003) was an American philosopher who taught at UC Berkeley from 1981 to 2003, who previously taught at Stanford University, Rockefeller University, Princeton University, and the University of Chicago. He wrote other books, such as Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation.

He wrote in the Introduction to this 1980 collection, "All the essays in this book have been published elsewhere, and each was designed to be more or less free standing. But though composed over a baker's dozen of years, they are unified in theme and general thesis. The theme is the role of causal concepts in the description and explanation of human action. The thesis is that the ordinary notion of cause which enters into scientific and common-sense accounts of non-psychological affairs is essential also to the understanding of what it is to act with a reason, to have a certain intention in acting, to be an agent, to act counter to one's own best judgment, or to act freely. Cause is the cement of the universe; the concept of cause is what holds together our picture of the universe, a picture that would otherwise disintegrate into a diptych of the mental and the physical."Ě

In the essay, "How is Weakness of the Will Possible?," he states, "An agent's will is weak if he acts ... counter to his own best judgment...It will be convenient to call actions of this kind incontinent actions."Ě (Pg. 21) He explains, "Since what is central to the solution of the problem of incontinence proposed in this paper is the contrast between conditional (prima facie) evaluative judgments and evaluative judgments sans phrase, perhaps we can give a characterization of incontinence that avoids the troublesome 'all things considered'... the incontinent man acts, and judges, irrationally, for this is surely what we must say of a man who goes against his own best judgment... There is, I suggest, an analogous principle the rational man will accept in applying practical reasoning: perform the action judged best on the basis of all available relevant reasons. It would be appropriate to call this the PRINCIPLE OF CONTINENCE."Ě (Pg. 40-41)

In an essay on "Freedom to Act,"Ě he says, "although we cannot hope to define or analyze freedom to act in terms of concepts that fully identify the causal conditions of intentional action, there is no obstacle to the view that freedom to act is a causal power of the agent."Ě (Pg. 81)

In an essay on "Mental Events," he explains, "The rest of this paper falls into three parts. The first part describes a version of the identity theory of the mental and physical... The second part argues that there cannot be strict psychophysical laws; this is not quite the principle of the anomalism of the mental, but on reasonable assumptions entails it. The last part tries to show that... we can infer the truth of a version of the identity theory, that is, a theory that identifies at least some mental events with physical events. It is clear that this ... proof... of the identity theory will be at best conditional... But even someone unpersuaded of the truth of the premises may be interested to learn how they can be reconciled and that they serve to establish a version of the identity theory of the mental. Finally, If the argument is a good one, it should lay to rest the view, common to many friends and foes of identity theories, that support for such theories can come only from the discovery of psychophysical laws."Ě (Pg. 209)

In the essay, "The Material Mind," he observes, "I would agree that we are committed to one important philosophical, and, indeed metaphysical, thesis. If psychological events cause and are caused by physical events (and surely this is the case) and if causal relations between events entail the existence of laws connecting those events, and these laws are, as we have supposed in designing Art, physical, then it must follow that psychological events simply ARE (in the sense of ARE IDENTICAL WITH) physical events. If this is materialism, we are committed to it in assuming the existence of Art."Ě (Pg. 248) He concludes this essay with the statement, "discoveries about the nature of the brain... throw a flood of light on human perception, learning, and behavior. But with respect to the higher cognitive functions, the illumination must, if I am right, be indirect. There is no important sense in which psychology can be reduced to the physical sciences."Ě (Pg. 259)

This collection of essays provides an excellent perspective on Davidson's thought, and it will be of great interest to anyone studying contemporary analytic philosophy.


Inquiries Into Truth and Interpretation
Inquiries Into Truth and Interpretation
by Donald Davidson
Edition: Paperback
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5.0 out of 5 stars ESSAYS WRITTEN BY THE ANALYTIC PHILOSOPHER IN THE 1960s AND 1970s, March 2, 2015
Donald Herbert Davidson (1917-2003) was an American philosopher who taught at UC Berkeley from 1981 to 2003, who previously taught at Stanford University, Rockefeller University, Princeton University, and the University of Chicago. He wrote other books, such as, Essays on Actions and Events.

He wrote in the Introduction to this 1984 collection, "What is it for words to mean what they do? In the essays collected here I explore the idea that we would have an answer to this question if we know how to construct a theory satisfying two demands: it would provide an interpretation of all utterances, actual and potential, of a speaker or group of speakers; and it would be verifiable without knowledge of the detailed propositional attitudes of the speaker. The first condition acknowledges the holistic nature of linguistic understanding. The second condition aims to prevent smuggling into the foundations of the theory concepts too closely allied to the concept of meaning. A theory that does not satisfy both conditions cannot be said to answer our opening question in a philosophically instructive way."Ě

He states in the third essay, "In this paper I defend a version of the correspondence theory. I think truth can be explained by appeal to a relation between language and the world, and that analysis of that relation yields insight into how, by uttering sentences, we sometimes manage to say what is true."Ě (Pg. 37-38)

In the ninth essay, he says, "What follows is a defence of the claim that a theory of truth, modified to apply to a natural language, can be used as a theory of interpretation. The defence will consist in attempts to answer three questions: 1. Is it reasonable to think that a theory of truth of the sort described can be given for a natural language? 2. Would it be possible to tell that such a theory was correct on the basis of evidence plausibly available to an interpreter with no prior knowledge of the language to be interpreted? 3. If the theory were known to be true, would it be possible to interpret utterances of speakers of the language?" (Pg. 131)

In the tenth essay, he says, "Theory of interpretation is the business jointly of the linguist, psychologist and philosopher. Its subject matter is the behavior of a speaker or speakers, and it tells what certain of their utterances mean. Finally, the theory can be used to describe what every interpreter knows, namely a specifiable infinite subset of the truths of the theory. In what follows, I shall say a little, and assume a lot, about the form a theory of interpretation can take. But I want to focus on the question how we can tell that any such theory is true." (Pg. 141-142)

In an essay on "The Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme,"Ě he comments, "Since charity is not an option, but a condition of having a workable theory, it is meaningless to suggest that we might fall into massive error by endorsing it. Until we have successfully established a systematic correlation of sentences held true with sentences held true, there are no mistakes to make. Charity is forced on us; whether we like it or not, if we want to understand others, we must count them right in most matters. If we can produce a theory that reconciles charity and the formal conditions for a theory, we have done all that could be done to ensure communication. Nothing more is possible, and nothing more is needed."Ě (Pg. 197)

In an essay on "What Metaphors Mean," he notes, "For the most part I don't disagree with Max Black, Paul Henle, Nelson Goodman, Monroe Beardsley, and the rest in their accounts of what metaphor accomplishes, except that I think it accomplishes more and that what is additional is different in kind. My disagreement is with the explanation of how metaphor works its wonders. To anticipate: I depend on the distinction between what words mean and what they are used to do. I think metaphor belongs exclusively to the domain of use. It is something brought off by the imaginative employment of words and sentences and depends entirely on the ordinary meanings of those words and hence on the ordinary meanings of the sentences they compose."Ě (Pg. 246-247)

In the final essay, he states, "I conclude that it is not an accidental feature of language that the ulterior purpose of an utterance and its literal meaning are independent, in the sense that the latter cannot be derived from the former: if is of the essence of language. I call this feature of language the principle of the AUTONOMY OF MEANING."Ě (Pg. 274)

Davidson's work is growing in its influence in analytical philosophy; and this book gives a good idea of his ideas.


The Philosophy of Paul Ricoeur: An Anthology of His Work
The Philosophy of Paul Ricoeur: An Anthology of His Work
by Paul Ricouer
Edition: Paperback
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5.0 out of 5 stars AN EXCELLENT ANTHOLOGY OF A WIDE VARIETY OF RICOEUR’S WRITINGS, March 2, 2015
Paul Ricoeur (1913-2005) was a French philosopher whose work combines phenomenological description with hermeneutics. This 1978 volume was the first major anthology of Ricoeur’s works in English.

The Editor’s Preface states, “This anthology presents both a topical and a chronological view of the works of Paul Ricoeur. Included are selections which give the central themes of Ricoeur’s early phenomenology of the will as well as his most recent present study on Freud and on the Explanation/Understanding debate. This anthology also presents Ricoeur’s enormously wide philosophical interests, from psychoanalysis, linguistics, and the philosophy of language to writings on religious language and biblical exegesis. We were led to edit this collection by our desire to have something suitable to recommend to our colleagues who wanted to sample some of Ricoeur’s work and by the need for an inexpensive text which would allow our students to read widely in his philosophy.”

He states, “The unconscious… is always the background of my biography which I cannot put on the same level as transparent consciousness and which, moreover, I cannot reach without the mediation of a third person who must interpret it for me before I can reintegrate it into my field of consciousness.” (Pg. 9) He adds, “the reconciliation of the voluntary and the involuntary presupposes that they confront each other in the same universe of discourse.” (Pg. 10)

He continues, “By ‘subjectivity’ I mean the subject function of an intentional consciousness, such that I understand it as applying to me and to others; thanks to this mutual elaboration of knowledge of self and other, I arrive at true concepts of subjectivity, valid for man, my fellow. And that is why the phenomenology of the lived body is a phenomenology of intersubjectivity.” (Pg. 10)

He says, “Phenomenology only resolves the Kantian antinomy by carrying philosophical mediation back to a prereflective level which is prior to the antinomy; the antinomy manifests itself, then, as a cultural creation, contemporary with the advent of science; and its cultural creation is seen to be a conflict which is localized within a more fundamental relation of belonging, a belonging of man to the world. The antinomy does not receive an intellectual solution, but is located within the context of a more original ground.” (Pg. 71)

He suggests, “In this strict sense the question of being, the ontological question, is excluded in advance from phenomenology, either provisionally or definitely. The question of knowing that which IS in an absolute sense is placed ‘between parentheses,’ and the manner of appearing is treated as an autonomous problem. Phenomenology in the strict sense begins as soon as this distinction is reflected upon for its own sake, whatever the final result may be. On the other hand, whatever the act of birth, which brings appearing to emergence at the expense of being or against the background of being, is no longer perceived and systematized, then phenomenology ceases to be a philosophical discipline and falls back to the level of ordinary and popular description.” (Pg. 75-76)

He recalls, “I felt compelled to shift my interest from the original problem of the structure of the will to the problem of language as such, which had remained subsidiary even at the time when I was studying the strange structures of the symbolism of myths. I was compelled to do so for several reasons… First, my reflection on the structure of psychoanalytic theory; secondly, the important change in the philosophical scene… in France, where structuralism was beginning replace existentialism and even phenomenology; thirdly, my continuing in the problem raised by religious language, and… by the so-called theologies of the Word in the post-Bultmannian school; and finally, my increasing interest in the British and American schools of ordinary language philosophy, in which I saw a way of both renewing phenomenology and or replying to the excesses of structuralism.” (Pg. 88)

He observes, “For us who speak, language is not an object but a mediation. Language is that through which, by means of which, we express ourselves and express things. To speak of the act by which the speaker overcomes the closure of the universe of signs, in the intention of saying something about something to someone; to speak is the act by which language moves beyond itself as sign toward its reference and towards its opposite. Language seeks to disappear; it seeks to die as an object.” (Pg. 112)

He asserts, “It seems to me that philosophy has not only the job of accounting, in a discourse other than scientific, for the primordial relation of BELONGING between the being that we are and some region of being that a science elaborates as an object by the appropriate methodological procedures. It must also be able to account for the movement of DISTANCIATION by which this relation of belonging requires objectification, the objective and objectifying treatment of the sciences, and thus the movement by which explanation and understanding are called forth on the properly epistemological level. I shall stop at the threshold of this difficult investigation.” (Pg. 166)

This anthology provides an excellent overview of the many directions of Ricoeur’s thought, and will be of great help to those unfamiliar with him.


By W. V. Quine Quiddities: An Intermittently Philosophical Dictionary (Reprint) [Paperback]
By W. V. Quine Quiddities: An Intermittently Philosophical Dictionary (Reprint) [Paperback]
by W. V. Quine
Edition: Paperback
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5.0 out of 5 stars A “SORT OF “DICTIONARY OF PHILOSOPHICAL TERMS, March 1, 2015
Willard Van Orman Quine (1908-2000) was an American philosopher and logician who taught at Harvard University, and wrote many books such as Word and Object, The Web of Belief, From a Logical Point of View, Ontological Relativity & Other Essays, Pursuit of Truth, Theories and Things, Methods of Logic, Philosophy of Logic, etc.

He wrote in the Preface to this 1987 book, “This is one of a loosely linked series of loose-knit books inspired by Voltaire’s Philosophical Dictionary… Mine is philosophical in part, but lowlier themes occupy more than half the book and afforded me more than half the fun, philosophy on the whole being no laughing matter. The one trait that the book shares with a true dictionary, namely alphabetical order in lieu of structure, brings grateful release from the constraint of linear exposition.”

Under “Belief,” he states, “An enamored young man has his reasons for subscribing to the tenets of his fiancée’s church, and a heretic threatened by the Inquisition has his reasons for a similar move; but these are cases of feigning belief, of paying lip or pen service, and not of believing. Pascal’s notorious wager, on the other hand, and Tertullian’s ‘credo quia impossible est,’ and William James’s ‘Will to Believe,’ strike me as strange distortions of the notion of belief. Hoping or wishing can conduce to believing, but only by seducing the subject into overestimating his fancied evidence.” (Pg. 19)

Under “Gambling,” he observes, “We can applaud the state lottery as a public subsidy of intelligence, for it yields public income that is calculated to lighten the tax burden of us prudent abstainers at the expense of the benighted masses of wishful thinkers. It differs morally from the private casino or underground numbers game in that its beneficiaries are all of us in the prudent section of the general public, rather than a greedy few private operators on or over the edge of the law.” (Pg. 77)

Under “Knowledge,” he points out, “Rejection of the very concept of knowledge is thus oddly ironical. It is not skepticism. Skeptics accept the concept of knowledge and deny its applications. What we are concluding rather is that the term does not meet scientific and philosophical standards of coherence and precision. The term retains its rough utility in the vernacular, like ‘big,’ and, contrary to what the skeptic claims, there is plenty to which it then most emphatically applies.” (Pg. 109)

He adds, “The limitations of the concept have had insidious effects, however, even apart from philosophical contexts. Creationists challenge the evolutionists, who, being scientists, scruple to claim absolute certainty. The creationists then respond that the theory of evolution is therefore not KNOWN to be true, and hence that creationism should get equal time. Religious apologists and occultists on other fronts take heart in similar fashion.” (Pg. 109-110)

Under “Paradoxes,” he says about Russell’s Paradox [concerning “the class of all classes not belonging to themselves”]: “Russell’s Paradox… is an ANTINOMY: it discredits a previously accepted principle of reasoning. An easy review comes to mind: just say that classes are determined by all membership conditions except one, namely, non-self-membership. This will not do. Russell’s Paradox is just the first and simplest of a series. With a little effort we can derive a contradiction also from assuming a class of all those classes that are not members of MEMBERS of themselves.” (Pg. 146)

Under “Tolerance,” he suggests, “Militant atheism aside, religious tolerance tends to be inversely proportional to religious faith. If someone firmly believes that eternal salvation and da_nation hinge on embracing his particular religion, he would be callous indeed to sit tolerantly back and watch others go to hel_. If on the other hand someone subscribes to no religion, and is appalled by the inhumanity of religious intolerance, then his moral course of action would evidently be to try to stamp out religion and, therewith, religious intolerance. This puts him in the paradoxical position of religious intolerance in turn---intolerance of all religion. Such, then, is the militant atheist. Let us just hope that he exercises his intolerance humanely. Yet I am not prepared unequivocally to cast my lot with the militant atheist either, however, however human his militance. There remains a burning question of the social value of the restraints and ideals imposed by some religions, however false to facts those religions be… A question of tolerance closely parallel to the religious one recurs … in the teaching of controversial subjects such as philosophy… if one pursues philosophy in a scientific spirit as a quest for truth, then tolerance of wrong-headed philosophy is as unreasonable as tolerance of astrology would be on the part of the astrophysicist, and as unethical as tolerance of Unitarianism on the part of the hel_-fire fundamentalist.” (Pg. 208-209)

This is one of Quine’s most interesting books, and includes his thoughts on a wide variety of areas on which he never deals with elsewhere. It will be “must reading” for anyone interested in Quine’s thought.


Quiddities: An Intermittently Philosophical Dictionary
Quiddities: An Intermittently Philosophical Dictionary
by Willard Van Orman Quine
Edition: Hardcover
38 used & new from $2.49

5.0 out of 5 stars A "SORT OF" DICTIONARY OF PHILOSOPHICAL TERMS, March 1, 2015
Willard Van Orman Quine (1908-2000) was an American philosopher and logician who taught at Harvard University, and wrote many books such as Word and Object, The Web of Belief, From a Logical Point of View, Ontological Relativity & Other Essays, Pursuit of Truth, Theories and Things, Methods of Logic, Philosophy of Logic, etc.

He wrote in the Preface to this 1987 book, ‚€œThis is one of a loosely linked series of loose-knit books inspired by Voltaire‚€™s Philosophical Dictionary‚€¶ Mine is philosophical in part, but lowlier themes occupy more than half the book and afforded me more than half the fun, philosophy on the whole being no laughing matter. The one trait that the book shares with a true dictionary, namely alphabetical order in lieu of structure, brings grateful release from the constraint of linear exposition.‚€Ě

Under ‚€œBelief,‚€Ě he states, ‚€œAn enamored young man has his reasons for subscribing to the tenets of his fianc√©e‚€™s church, and a heretic threatened by the Inquisition has his reasons for a similar move; but these are cases of feigning belief, of paying lip or pen service, and not of believing. Pascal‚€™s notorious wager, on the other hand, and Tertullian‚€™s ‚€˜credo quia impossible est,‚€™ and William James‚€™s ‚€˜Will to Believe,‚€™ strike me as strange distortions of the notion of belief. Hoping or wishing can conduce to believing, but only by seducing the subject into overestimating his fancied evidence.‚€Ě (Pg. 19)

Under ‚€œGambling,‚€Ě he observes, ‚€œWe can applaud the state lottery as a public subsidy of intelligence, for it yields public income that is calculated to lighten the tax burden of us prudent abstainers at the expense of the benighted masses of wishful thinkers. It differs morally from the private casino or underground numbers game in that its beneficiaries are all of us in the prudent section of the general public, rather than a greedy few private operators on or over the edge of the law.‚€Ě (Pg. 77)

Under ‚€œKnowledge,‚€Ě he points out, ‚€œRejection of the very concept of knowledge is thus oddly ironical. It is not skepticism. Skeptics accept the concept of knowledge and deny its applications. What we are concluding rather is that the term does not meet scientific and philosophical standards of coherence and precision. The term retains its rough utility in the vernacular, like ‚€˜big,‚€™ and, contrary to what the skeptic claims, there is plenty to which it then most emphatically applies.‚€Ě (Pg. 109)

He adds, ‚€œThe limitations of the concept have had insidious effects, however, even apart from philosophical contexts. Creationists challenge the evolutionists, who, being scientists, scruple to claim absolute certainty. The creationists then respond that the theory of evolution is therefore not KNOWN to be true, and hence that creationism should get equal time. Religious apologists and occultists on other fronts take heart in similar fashion.‚€Ě (Pg. 109-110)

Under ‚€œParadoxes,‚€Ě he says about Russell‚€™s Paradox [concerning ‚€œthe class of all classes not belonging to themselves‚€Ě]: ‚€œRussell‚€™s Paradox‚€¶ is an ANTINOMY: it discredits a previously accepted principle of reasoning. An easy review comes to mind: just say that classes are determined by all membership conditions except one, namely, non-self-membership. This will not do. Russell‚€™s Paradox is just the first and simplest of a series. With a little effort we can derive a contradiction also from assuming a class of all those classes that are not members of MEMBERS of themselves.‚€Ě (Pg. 146)

Under ‚€œTolerance,‚€Ě he suggests, ‚€œMilitant atheism aside, religious tolerance tends to be inversely proportional to religious faith. If someone firmly believes that eternal salvation and da_nation hinge on embracing his particular religion, he would be callous indeed to sit tolerantly back and watch others go to hel_. If on the other hand someone subscribes to no religion, and is appalled by the inhumanity of religious intolerance, then his moral course of action would evidently be to try to stamp out religion and, therewith, religious intolerance. This puts him in the paradoxical position of religious intolerance in turn---intolerance of all religion. Such, then, is the militant atheist. Let us just hope that he exercises his intolerance humanely. Yet I am not prepared unequivocally to cast my lot with the militant atheist either, however, however human his militance. There remains a burning question of the social value of the restraints and ideals imposed by some religions, however false to facts those religions be‚€¶ A question of tolerance closely parallel to the religious one recurs ‚€¶ in the teaching of controversial subjects such as philosophy‚€¶ if one pursues philosophy in a scientific spirit as a quest for truth, then tolerance of wrong-headed philosophy is as unreasonable as tolerance of astrology would be on the part of the astrophysicist, and as unethical as tolerance of Unitarianism on the part of the hel_-fire fundamentalist.‚€Ě (Pg. 208-209)

This is one of Quine‚€™s most interesting books, and includes his thoughts on a wide variety of areas on which he never deals with elsewhere. It will be ‚€œmust reading‚€Ě for anyone interested in Quine‚€™s thought.


Philosophy of Logic
Philosophy of Logic
by Willard Van Orman Quine
Edition: Paperback
27 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars AN EXCELLENT INTRODUCTORY TEXT, March 1, 2015
This review is from: Philosophy of Logic (Paperback)
Willard Van Orman Quine (1908-2000) was an American philosopher and logician who taught at Harvard University, and wrote many books such as Word and Object, The Web of Belief, From a Logical Point of View, Ontological Relativity & Other Essays, Pursuit of Truth, Theories and Things, Methods of Logic, Quiddities: An Intermittently Philosophical Dictionary, etc.

[NOTE: this review pertains to the 1970 first edition.]

He wrote in the Preface, "We shall be occupied in this book with the philosophy of logic ... Precedent could be cited for applying the word collectively to two dissimilar studies: deductive and inductive logic. The philosophy of inductive logic, however, would be in no way distinguishable from philosophy's main stem, the theory of knowledge. What arrogates a distinctive bit of philosophy to itself is deductive logic... I would say that logic is the systematic study of logical truths... I would say that at sentence if logically true if all sentences with its grammatical structure are true... Since I see logic thus as the resultant of two components, truth and grammar, I shall treat truth and grammar prominently. But I shall argue against the doctrine that logical truths are true because of grammar, or because of language."

At the end of the first chapter, he states, "When we call a sentence eternal... we are calling it eternal relative only to a particular language at a particular time. Because of this awkward relativity there remains a theoretical advantage in assigning truth values to tokens, since in that quarter there is normally no question of choosing among languages and language stages; we are concerned simply with the language of the speaker or writer as of the time of speaking or writing. But in practice it can be convenient to talk simply of truth values of eternal sentences, tacitly understanding these as relativized to our present-day English language habits." (Pg. 14)

He ends the fourth chapter: "a logical truth is a sentence that cannot be turned false by substituting the lexicon, even under supplementation of lexical resources... The definition is still not transcendent... The suggestion does nevertheless offer a welcome gain in generality, and, in addition, a notable connection between logic and grammar. What sentences of a language to count as logically true is determined, on this theory, when we have settled two things about the language: its grammar and its truth predicate. Logic is, in the jargon of mechanics, the resultant of two components: grammar and truth." (Pg. 60)

In the last chapter, he says, "Mathematics and logic are supported by observation only in the indirect way that those aspects of natural science are supported by observation; namely, as participating in an organized whole which, way up at its empirical edges, squares with observation. I am concerned to urge the unempirical character of theoretical physics; it is rather their kinship that I am urging, and a doctrine of gradualism." (Pg. 60)

This is an excellent logic text, and also gives insight into Quine's own ideas about logical theory.


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