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Encyclopedia > Willard van Orman Quine
Western Philosophy
20th-century philosophy
Name: Willard Van Orman Quine
Birth: June 25, 1908
Death: December 25, 2000
School/tradition: Analytic
Main interests: Logic, Ontology, Epistemology, Set Theory
Notable ideas: Indeterminacy of translation, inscrutability of reference, ontological relativity, radical translation, Confirmation holism, Philosophical naturalism, language
Influences: Rudolf Carnap, Alfred Tarski, Vienna Circle, C.I. Lewis, A. N. Whitehead
Influenced: Donald Davidson, Daniel Dennett, David Lewis, Dagfinn Føllesdal, David Kaplan

Willard Van Orman Quine (June 25, 1908December 25, 2000), usually cited as W.V. Quine or W.V.O. Quine but known to his friends as Van, was one of the most influential American philosophers and logicians of the 20th century. Quine is a surname and may refer to Edgar Quine Richard Quine Robert Quine Simon Quine Willard Van Orman Quine Tom Quine quine in computing Quinn Categories: | ... Scots refers to the Anglic varieties spoken in parts of Scotland. ... For the Doric dialect of ancient Greek, see Doric Greek Doric was formerly used to refer to all dialects of Lowland Scots but is now usually used as a name for the dialect spoken in the north-east of Scotland. ... It has been suggested that Contemporary philosophy be merged into this article or section. ... June 25 is the 176th day of the year (177th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 189 days remaining. ... 1908 (MCMVIII) was a leap year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar). ... December 25 is the 359th day of the year (360th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar, with 6 days remaining in the year. ... 2000 (MM) was a leap year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Analytic philosophy is a generic term for a style of philosophy that came to prominence during the 20th Century. ... Logic, from Classical Greek λόγος logos (the word), is the study of the principles and criteria of valid inference and demonstration. ... In philosophy, ontology (from the Greek , genitive : of being (part. ... It has been suggested that Meta-epistemology be merged into this article or section. ... Set theory is the mathematical theory of sets, which represent collections of abstract objects. ... The indeterminacy of translation is a thesis propounded by Willard Van Orman Quine, perhaps the most famous analytic philosopher of the 20th century. ... Confirmational holism is the claim that scientific theories are confirmed or disconfirmed as a whole. ... Radical translation in philosophy is the situation in which a linguist is attempting to translate a completely unknown language, which is unrelated to his own, and is therefore forced to rely solely on the observed behavior of its speakers in relation to their environment. ... Confirmation holism, also called epistemological holism is the claim that a scientific theory cannot be tested in isolation; a test of one theory always depends on other theories and hypotheses. ... Naturalism is any of several philosophical stances, typically those descended from materialism and pragmatism, that reject the validity of explanations or theories making use of entities inaccessible to natural science. ... Rudolf Carnap (May 18, 1891, Ronsdorf, Germany – September 14, 1970, Santa Monica, California) was an influential philosopher who was active in central Europe before 1935 and in the United States thereafter. ... // Alfred Tarski (January 14, 1902, Warsaw, Russian-ruled Poland – October 26, 1983, Berkeley, California) was a logician and mathematician who spent four decades as a professor of mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley. ... Moritz Schlick around 1930 The Vienna Circle (in German: der Wiener Kreis) was a group of philosophers who gathered around Moritz Schlick when he was called to the Vienna University in 1922, organized in a philosophical association named Verein Ernst Mach (Ernst Mach Society). ... Clarence Irving Lewis (April 12, 1883 Stoneham, Massachusetts - February 3, 1964 Cambridge, Massachusetts) was an American academic philosopher. ... Alfred North Whitehead, OM (February 15, 1861 Ramsgate, Kent, England – December 30, 1947 Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA) was an English-born mathematician who became a philosopher. ... Donald Davidson (March 6, 1917 – August 30, 2003) was an American philosopher and the Willis S. and Marion Slusser Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. ... Daniel Clement Dennett (b. ... David K. Lewis David Kellogg Lewis (September 28, 1941 – October 14, 2001) is considered to have been one of the leading analytic philosophers of the latter half of the 20th century. ... Dagfinn Føllesdal (sometimes spelled Follesdal), is the Clarence Irving Lewis Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University, and professor emeritus at the University of Oslo. ... David Benjamin Kaplan (1933) is an American philosopher and logician teaching at UCLA. He is known in particular for his work on demonstratives, on propositions, and on reference in opaque (intensional) contexts. ... June 25 is the 176th day of the year (177th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 189 days remaining. ... 1908 (MCMVIII) was a leap year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar). ... December 25 is the 359th day of the year (360th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar, with 6 days remaining in the year. ... 2000 (MM) was a leap year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... A philosopher is a person who thinks deeply regarding people, society, the world, and/or the universe. ... A logician is a philosopher, mathematician, or other whose topic of scholarly study is logic. ... (19th century - 20th century - 21st century - more centuries) Decades: 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s As a means of recording the passage of time, the 20th century was that century which lasted from 1901–2000 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar (1900–1999...

Contents

Overview

Quine falls squarely into the analytic philosophy tradition while also being the main proponent of the view that philosophy is not conceptual analysis. Quine spent his entire career teaching philosophy and mathematics at Harvard University, his alma mater, where he held the Edgar Pierce Chair of Philosophy from 1956 to 1978. His major writings include "Two Dogmas of Empiricism", which attacked the distinction between analytic and synthetic propositions and advocated a form of semantic holism and Word and Object which further developed these positions and introduced the notorious indeterminacy of translation thesis. Analytic philosophy is a generic term for a style of philosophy that came to prominence during the 20th Century. ... Philosophical analysis is a general term for techniques typically used by philosophers in the analytic tradition that involve breaking down (i. ... Harvard University (incorporated as The President and Fellows of Harvard College) is a private university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. Founded in 1636,[2] Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning still operating in the United States. ... 1956 (MCMLVI) was a leap year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 1978 (MCMLXXVIII) was a common year starting on Sunday. ... Quines paper Two Dogmas of Empiricism, published 1951, is one of the most celebrated papers of twentieth century philosophy in the analytic tradition. ... The terms analytic and synthetic are philosophical terms, used by philosophers to divide propositions into two types: analytic propositions and synthetic propositions. ... The terms analytic and synthetic are philosophical terms, used by philosophers to divide propositions into two types: analytic propositions and synthetic propositions. ... Proposition is a term used in logic to describe the content of assertions. ... Semantic holism is a doctrine in the philosophy of language to the effect that a certain part of language, be it a term or a complete sentence, can only be understood through its relations to a (previously understood) larger segment of language. ... The indeterminacy of translation is a thesis propounded by Willard Van Orman Quine, perhaps the most famous analytic philosopher of the 20th century. ...


Life

The Time of My Life (1986) is his autobiography. Quine grew up in Akron, Ohio. His father was a manufacturing entrepreneur and his mother was a schoolteacher. He received his B.A. in mathematics and philosophy from Oberlin College in 1930 and his Ph.D. in philosophy from Harvard University in 1932. His notional thesis supervisor was Alfred North Whitehead. Upon completing his Ph.D., Quine was appointed a Harvard Junior Fellow, which excused him from having to teach for four years. During the academic year 1932-33, he travelled in Europe thanks to a fellowship, meeting Polish logicians (including Alfred Tarski) and members of the Vienna Circle (including Rudolf Carnap). Nickname: The Rubber Capital of the World Location within the state of Ohio Country United States State Ohio County Summit Founded 1825 Incorporated 1835 (village) - 1865 (city) Government  - Mayor Don Plusquellic (D) Area  - City  62. ... Official language(s) None Capital Columbus Largest city Columbus Largest metro area Cleveland Area  Ranked 34th  - Total 44,825 sq mi (116,096 km²)  - Width 220 miles (355 km)  - Length 220 miles (355 km)  - % water 8. ... Oberlin College is a small, selective liberal arts college in Oberlin, Ohio, in the United States. ... Harvard University (incorporated as The President and Fellows of Harvard College) is a private university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. Founded in 1636,[2] Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning still operating in the United States. ... Alfred North Whitehead, OM (February 15, 1861 Ramsgate, Kent, England – December 30, 1947 Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA) was an English-born mathematician who became a philosopher. ... The Harvard Society of Fellows is a collection of luminaries selected by Harvard University to be held close to its bosom, given special honors, thrown elegant dinners, and upon whom various privileges are bestowed. ... // Alfred Tarski (January 14, 1902, Warsaw, Russian-ruled Poland – October 26, 1983, Berkeley, California) was a logician and mathematician who spent four decades as a professor of mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley. ... Moritz Schlick around 1930 The Vienna Circle (in German: der Wiener Kreis) was a group of philosophers who gathered around Moritz Schlick when he was called to the Vienna University in 1922, organized in a philosophical association named Verein Ernst Mach (Ernst Mach Society). ... Rudolf Carnap (May 18, 1891, Ronsdorf, Germany – September 14, 1970, Santa Monica, California) was an influential philosopher who was active in central Europe before 1935 and in the United States thereafter. ...


It was through Quine's good offices that Alfred Tarski was invited to attend the September 1939 Unity of Science Congress in Cambridge. To attend that Congress, Tarski sailed for the USA on the last ship to leave Gdańsk before the Third Reich invaded Poland. Tarski survived the war and worked another 44 years in the USA. // Alfred Tarski (January 14, 1902, Warsaw, Russian-ruled Poland – October 26, 1983, Berkeley, California) was a logician and mathematician who spent four decades as a professor of mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Unified Science. ... GdaÅ„sk ( ; IPA: ), also known by its German name Danzig ( ) and several other names, is the sixth-largest city in Poland and is Polands principal seaport and the capital of the Pomeranian Voivodeship. ... Nazi Germany, or the Third Reich, commonly refers to Germany in the years 1933–1945, when it was under the firm control of the totalitarian and fascist ideology of the Nazi Party, with the Führer Adolf Hitler as dictator. ...


During WWII, Quine lectured on logic in Brazil, in Portuguese, and served in the United States Navy in a military intelligence role, reaching the rank of Lieutenant Commander. Military intelligence (abbreviated MI, int. ...


At Harvard, Quine helped supervise the Harvard theses of, among others, Donald Davidson, David Lewis, Daniel Dennett, Gilbert Harman, Dagfinn Føllesdal, Hao Wang, Hugues LeBlanc and Henry Hiz. Donald Davidson (March 6, 1917 – August 30, 2003) was an American philosopher and the Willis S. and Marion Slusser Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. ... David K. Lewis David Kellogg Lewis (September 28, 1941 – October 14, 2001) is considered to have been one of the leading analytic philosophers of the latter half of the 20th century. ... Daniel Clement Dennett (b. ... Gilbert Harman (born 1938) is a contemporary philosopher teaching at Princeton University who has published widely in Ethics, Epistemology, Metaphysics, and the philosophies of Language and Mind. ... Dagfinn Føllesdal (sometimes spelled Follesdal), is the Clarence Irving Lewis Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University, and professor emeritus at the University of Oslo. ... Hao Wang 王浩 (1921 – 1995) was a Chinese-American logician, philosopher and mathematician. ...


Quine had four children by two marriages.


Work

Quine's Ph.D. thesis and early publications were on formal logic and set theory. Only after WWII did he, by virtue of seminal papers on ontology, epistemology and language, emerge as a major philosopher. By the 1960s, he had worked out his "naturalized epistemology" whose aim was to answer all substantive questions of knowledge and meaning using the methods and tools of the natural sciences. Quine roundly rejected the notion that there should be a "first philosophy", a theoretical standpoint somehow prior to natural science and capable of justifying it. These views are intrinsic to his naturalism. Logic (from ancient Greek λόγος (logos), meaning reason) is the study of arguments. ... Set theory is the mathematical theory of sets, which represent collections of abstract objects. ... In philosophy, ontology (from the Greek , genitive : of being (part. ... It has been suggested that Meta-epistemology be merged into this article or section. ... Naturalism is any of several philosophical stances, typically those descended from materialism and pragmatism, that reject the validity of explanations or theories making use of entities inaccessible to natural science. ...


Quine often wrote superbly crafted and witty English prose. He had a gift for languages and could lecture in French, Spanish, Portuguese and German. But like the logical positivists, he evinced little interest in the philosophical canon: only once did he teach a course in the history of philosophy, on Hume.


Rejection of the analytic-synthetic distinction

See also: Two Dogmas of Empiricism#Analyticity and circularity

In the 1930s and 40s, discussions with Carnap, Nelson Goodman and Alfred Tarski, among others, led Quine to doubt the tenability of the distinction between "analytic" sentences — those true simply by virtue of the meanings of their words, such as "All bachelors are unmarried" — and "synthetic" statements, those true or false by virtue of facts about the world, such as "There is a cat on the mat." This distinction was central to logical positivism, the "empiricism" of his famous paper, Two Dogmas of Empiricism. Quine's criticisms played a major role in the decline of logical positivism although he remained a verificationist, to the point of invoking verificationism to undermine the analytic-synthetic distinction. Quines paper Two Dogmas of Empiricism, published 1951, is one of the most celebrated papers of twentieth century philosophy in the analytic tradition. ... Nelson Goodman (7 August 1906, Somerville, Maryland – 25 November 1998) was an American philosopher, known for his work on counterfactuals, mereology, the problem of induction, and aesthetics. ... // Alfred Tarski (January 14, 1902, Warsaw, Russian-ruled Poland – October 26, 1983, Berkeley, California) was a logician and mathematician who spent four decades as a professor of mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley. ... Logical positivism is a school of philosophy that combines empiricism—the idea that observational evidence is indispensable for knowledge of the world — with a version of rationalism—the idea that our knowledge includes a component that is not derived from observation. ... Quines paper Two Dogmas of Empiricism, published 1951, is one of the most celebrated papers of twentieth century philosophy in the analytic tradition. ... Note: This short article describes the specific history and ideas of the early verificationists. ...


Like other analytic philosophers before him, Quine accepted the definition of "analytic" as "true in virtue of meaning alone". Unlike them, however, he did not find the definition to be coherent. In colloquial terms, Quine accepted that analytic statements are those that are true by definition, then argued that the notion of truth by definition was incoherent. Analytic may refer to Analytic proposition or analytic philosophy, in philosophy Analytic geometry, analytic function, analytic continuation, analytic set in mathematics. ... A definition is a form of words which states the meaning of a term. ... Coherence is from Latin cohaerere = stick together, to be connected with, logically consistent. ...


Quine is often misrepresented as believing that all statements are contingent. For instance, it is claimed that Quine held the truth of "All unmarried men are bachelors" to depend on a contingent fact. In truth, he was as skeptical of the necessary/contingent distinction as of the analytic-synthetic distinction (and, for that matter, of reified facts). Hence, to claim that Quine thought all statements were contingent is a mistake, albeit a common one. Modal logic, or (less commonly) intensional logic is the branch of logic that deals with sentences that are qualified by modalities such as can, could, might, may, must, possibly, and necessarily, and others. ... Analytic may refer to Analytic proposition or analytic philosophy, in philosophy Analytic geometry, analytic function, analytic continuation, analytic set in mathematics. ... The terms analytic and synthetic are philosophical terms, used by philosophers to divide propositions into two types: analytic propositions and synthetic propositions. ...


Quine's chief objection to analyticity is with the notion of synonymy (sameness of meaning), a sentence being analytic just in case it is synonymous with "All black things are black" (or any other logical truth). The objection to synonymy hinges upon the problem of collateral information. We intuitively feel that there is a distinction between "All unmarried men are bachelors" and "There have been black dogs", but a competent English speaker will assent to both sentences under all conditions (excepting extraneous factors such as bribery or threats) since such speakers also have access to collateral information bearing on the historical existence of black dogs. Quine maintains that there is no distinction between universally known collateral information and conceptual or analytic truths. However, Quine's philosophy does not provide another plausible explanation of why some sentences spark the intuition of "analyticity" and not others. In scientific classification, synonymy is the existence of multiple systematic names to label the same organism. ... When someone sincerely agrees with an assertion, he or she is claiming that it is the truth. ...


Another approach to Quine's objection to analyticity and synonymy emerges from the modal notion of logical possibility. A traditional Wittgensteinian view of meaning held that each meaningful sentence was associated with a region in the space of possible worlds. Quine finds the notion of such a space problematic, arguing that there is no distinction between those truths which are universally and confidently believed and those which are necessarily true. 1+1=3 and 0=1 are false in all possible worlds. ... Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), pictured here in 1930, made influential contributions to Logic and the philosophy of language, critically examining the task of conventional philosophy and its relation to the nature of language. ...


Confirmation holism and ontological relativity

The central theses underlying the indeterminacy of translation and other extensions of Quine's work are ontological relativity and the related doctrine of confirmation holism. The premise of confirmation holism is that all theories (and the propositions derived from them) are under-determined by empirical data (data, sensory-data, evidence); although some theories are not justifiable, failing to fit with the data or being unworkably complex, there are many equally justifiable alternatives. While the Greeks' assumption that (unobservable) Homeric gods exist is false, and our supposition of (unobservable) electromagnetic waves is true, both are to be justified solely by their ability to explain our observations. The indeterminacy of translation is a thesis propounded by Willard Van Orman Quine, perhaps the most famous analytic philosopher of the 20th century. ... Confirmational holism is the claim that scientific theories are confirmed or disconfirmed as a whole. ... Doctrine, from Latin doctrina, (compare doctor), means a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the body of teachings in a branch of knowledge or belief system. ... Confirmation holism, also called epistemological holism is the claim that a scientific theory cannot be tested in isolation; a test of one theory always depends on other theories and hypotheses. ... Holism (from holos, a Greek word meaning all, entire, total) is the idea that all the properties of a given system (biological, chemical, social, economic, mental, linguistic, etc. ...


Quine concluded his "Two Dogmas of Empiricism" as follows: Quines paper Two Dogmas of Empiricism, published 1951, is one of the most celebrated papers of twentieth century philosophy in the analytic tradition. ...

"As an empiricist I continue to think of the conceptual scheme of science as a tool, ultimately, for predicting future experience in the light of past experience. Physical objects are conceptually imported into the situation as convenient intermediaries not by definition in terms of experience, but simply as irreducible posits comparable, epistemologically, to the gods of Homer . . . For my part I do, qua lay physicist, believe in physical objects and not in Homer's gods; and I consider it a scientific error to believe otherwise. But in point of epistemological footing, the physical objects and the gods differ only in degree and not in kind. Both sorts of entities enter our conceptions only as cultural posits". Homer (Greek: , ) was an early Greek poet and aoidos (rhapsode) traditionally credited with the composition of the Iliad and the Odyssey. ...

Quine's ontological relativism (evident in the passage above) led him to agree with Pierre Duhem that for any collection of empirical evidence, there would always be many theories able to account for it. However, Duhem's holism is much more restricted and limited than Quine's. For Duhem, underdetermination applies only to physics or possibly to natural science, while for Quine it applies to all of human knowledge. Thus, while it is possible to verify or falsify whole theories, it is not possible to verify or falsify individual statements. Almost any particular statements can be saved, given sufficiently radical modifications of the containing theory. For Quine, scientific thought forms a coherent web in which any part could be altered in the light of empirical evidence, and in which no empirical evidence could force the revision of a given part. Compare Moral relativism, Aesthetic relativism, Social constructionism and Cultural relativism. ... Pierre Maurice Marie Duhem (10 June 1861 – 14 September 1916) French physicist and philosopher of science. ... Holism (from holos, a Greek word meaning all, entire, total) is the idea that all the properties of a given system (biological, chemical, social, economic, mental, linguistic, etc. ... Physics (Greek: (phúsis), nature and (phusiké), knowledge of nature) is the science concerned with the fundamental laws of the universe. ... The lunar farside as seen from Apollo 11 Natural science is the rational study of the universe via rules or laws of natural order. ... In science and the philosophy of science, falsifiability is the logical property of empirical statements, related to contingency and defeasibility, that they must admit of logical counterexamples. ... In science and the philosophy of science, falsifiability is the logical property of empirical statements, related to contingency and defeasibility, that they must admit of logical counterexamples. ... Coherentism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia /**/ @import /skins-1. ...


A reaction to Quine's writings, although not necessarily one of which he would approve, has been the wide acceptance of instrumentalism in the philosophy of science. In the philosophy of science, instrumentalism is the view that concepts and theories are merely useful instruments whose worth is measured not by whether the concepts and theories are true or false (or correctly depict reality), but by how effective they are in explaining and predicting phenomena. ... Philosophy of science is the study of assumptions, foundations, and implications of science, especially in the natural sciences and social sciences. ...


Quine's Naturalism

Upon recognizing that natural knowledge couldn’t be justified in the traditional epistemological sense, Quine sought to renovate the old approach to epistemology in his 1969 essay, “Epistemology Naturalized.” In the essay, he proposes we acknowledge epistemology’s application to psychology and linguistics (and vice versa) so that we may enjoy the advantage of their resources. The role of justification is noticeably absent from Quine’s new epistemology, a fundamental part (if not the fundamental part) of the old epistemology. So why has it been eliminated? And why the need for a new epistemology in the first place? Image File history File links Broom_icon. ...


Quine demonstrates the inadequacy of the traditional epistemological paradigm by drawing parallels between mathematical epistemology and general epistemology, which have both attempted studies in doctrine and concept. The conceptual side attends to meaning and clarification by definition (of how the terms relate to each other); the doctrinal is concerned with truth and instituting laws by verifying them. In regards to the mathematical studies, the more complicated concepts would be spoken of in terms of the simpler ones, and elementary laws would explain non-elementary laws. Ideally, the clarification of obscure concepts would help to justify the relationship between mathematical theorems and self-evident truths. The concepts of mathematics, however, cannot be reduced to logic alone. They rest also on the axioms of set theory, which are even more enigmatic than the theories they have delivered.


A similar problem arises when we consider natural knowledge: Though Hume was able to procure some singular statements about bodies from sensory terms, he proved unsuccessful in trying to construct general statements or singular statements about the future, and so epistemologists began resorting to set theory and contextual definition. German philosopher Carnap tried to pick up where Hume left off; namely, to translate sentences about the world into the language of logic, set theory, and sense experience. Though these rational reconstructions, as Carnap called them, would fail to actually justify science, they would at least have the potential to legitimize its concepts by translating them into the terms of logic and set theory. But, according to Quine, this translation failed. Carnap’s translation failed, says Quine, because of the translational indeterminacy of theoretical sentences. Individual statements cannot be suitably translated because they have fixed meaning only in the context of the theories they belong to. If I said, for example, that the Prime Mover was above the Crystalline Sphere, this would probably have no particular significance to you unless we were speaking in context of the Ptolemic paradigm of the universe.


Thus, the quest to justify natural knowledge by reducing bodies to sensory terms was abandoned. If, then, we cannot justify knowledge on these terms, the best we can do is to explore how knowledge originated and evolved, in the ontological (and phylogenic, if I may take it a step further) sense, and how evidence relates to theory. In favoring psychology over rational reductionism, Quine says, “Better to discover how science in fact developed and learned [sic] than to fabricate a fictitious structure to a similar effect.” Quine marks the new epistemology as a chapter of psychology, but it seems that, rather than epistemology being subordinate to psychology, they could be mutually supportive of each other. Quine recognizes some may object to this idea, claiming it to be circular, and points out that we are not trying to justify psychology using epistemology, we are trying to understand knowledge. “We are after an understanding of science as an institution or process in the world,” he says, “and we do not intend that understanding to be any better than the science which is its object.”


The new epistemology, Quine says, is also becoming a matter of semantics. A fundamental part of knowledge relies on observation sentences. He defines an observation sentence as a sentence that everyone in a language-speaking community agrees upon. But what is an observation? When I look at the sky, am I observing the photons that hit my color receptors, or am I observing the blueness that results? Quine contends that an observation is whatever is closest to the sensory receptors, notwithstanding consciousness on our part. Observation sentences then, are about bodies rather than impressions, because observations are what we agree on. It doesn’t necessarily matter then, that when we look at the sky I may perceive one version of “blue” and you may perceive another. We both agree that the sky is “blue,” because we are referring to a physical phenomenon outside of ourselves that gives us both some sort of impression, congruent or not.


This account, it seems, is a total naturalization of knowledge. Quine rejects the idea that we have knowledge prior to experience. On the contrary, our observations (and not even ones we are necessarily conscious of) determine our “abstract” knowledge. According to Quine, all of our knowledge comes ultimately from the external world. Of course, naturalism may imply that our knowledge isn’t the cause of some divine, mysterious force—knowledge is subject to the mechanical inner workings of the brain, which was sculpted unconsciously by evolution, which in essence follows the paths paved by physical law. This naturalization, then, may steer the foundations of knowledge in the direction of a survival mechanism that evolved due to certain environmental factors—a series of fortuitous genetic mutations that thrived and continued to evolve into what we consider knowledge today—and this seems to relegate us to little more than physical systems reacting to our environment. Some would disagree with this cynical look at naturalism and say that knowledge, with all its burdens, is a liberating phenomenon that gives us the reigns to our own lives and a consciousness to human fate. By bearing this phenomenon, we have an obligation to explore, perpetuate, and adapt it, using any means that hint at an epistemological cohesive whole.


Set theory

Quine confined logic to classic bivalent first-order logic, hence to truth and falsity under any (nonempty) universe of discourse. Quine also carefully distinguished first-order logic from set theory, as the former requires no more than predicates and an unspecified universe of discourse. Thus much that Principia Mathematica included in logic was not logic for Quine. First-order logic (FOL) is a universal language in symbolic science, and is in use everyday by mathematicians, philosophers, linguists, computer scientists and practitioners of artificial intelligence. ... The term universe of discourse generally refers to the entire set of terms used in a specific discourse, i. ... First-order logic (FOL) is a universal language in symbolic science, and is in use everyday by mathematicians, philosophers, linguists, computer scientists and practitioners of artificial intelligence. ... In linguistics and logic, a predicate is an expression that can be true of something. ... The term universe of discourse generally refers to the entire set of terms used in a specific discourse, i. ... The Principia Mathematica is a three-volume work on the foundations of mathematics, written by Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell and published in 1910-1913. ...


While his contributions to logic include elegant expositions and a number of technical results, it is in set theory that Quine was most innovative. His set theory, (New Foundations) (NF) and that of Set Theory and Its Logic, admit a universal class, but since they are free of any hierarchy of types, they have no need for a distinct universal class at each type level. Without going into technical detail, these theories are driven by a desire to minimize posits; each innovation is pushed as far as it can be pushed before further innovations are introduced. Quine always maintained that mathematics required set theory and that set theory was quite distinct from logic. He flirted with Nelson Goodman's nominalism for a while, but backed away when he failed to find a nominalist grounding of mathematics. Set theory is the mathematical theory of sets, which represent collections of abstract objects. ... In mathematical logic, New Foundations (NF) is an axiomatic set theory, conceived by Willard Van Orman Quine as a simplification of the theory of types of Principia Mathematica. ... A hierarchy (in Greek: , it is derived from -hieros, sacred, and -arkho, rule) is a system of ranking and organizing things or people, where each element of the system (except for the top element) is subordinate to a single other element. ... Type has historically had the following uses: In biology, a type is the specimen or specimens upon which an original species description is based. ... Nelson Goodman (7 August 1906, Somerville, Maryland – 25 November 1998) was an American philosopher, known for his work on counterfactuals, mereology, the problem of induction, and aesthetics. ... In philosophy, nominalism is the theory that abstract terms, general terms, or universals do not represent objective real existents, but are merely names, words, or vocal utterances (flatus vocis). ...


New Foundations features a simple and economical criterion for set admissibility, which allows many "large" sets not allowed in the standard ZFC set theory. The (relative) consistency of New Foundations is an open question. A modification of NF, NFU, due to R. B. Jensen and admitting urelements (entities that can be members of sets but that lack elements), turns out to be consistent relative to Peano arithmetic, thus vindicating Quine's intuition. In mathematical logic, New Foundations (NF) is an axiomatic set theory, conceived by Willard Van Orman Quine as a simplification of the theory of types of Principia Mathematica. ... The Zermelo-Fraenkel axioms of set theory (ZF) are the standard axioms of axiomatic set theory on which, together with the axiom of choice, all of ordinary mathematics is based in modern formulations. ... In mathematical logic, New Foundations (NF) is an axiomatic set theory, conceived by Willard Van Orman Quine as a simplification of the theory of types of Principia Mathematica. ... In mathematical logic, New Foundations (NF) is an axiomatic set theory, conceived by Willard Van Orman Quine as a simplification of the theory of types of Principia Mathematica. ... In set theory an ur-element or urelement is something which is not a set, but may itself be an element of a set. ...


The logic and mathematics teacher

Quine wrote three classic undergraduate texts on logic:

  • Elementary Logic. While teaching an introductory course in 1940, Quine discovered that extant texts for philosophy students did not do justice to quantification theory or first-order predicate logic. Quine wrote this book in 6 weeks as an ad hoc solution to his teaching needs.
  • Methods of Logic. The four editions of this book resulted from the advanced undergraduate course in logic Quine taught from the end of WWII until his retirement in 1978. Technically rather dated (e.g., analytic tableaux are absent and the treatment of metalogic leaves something to be desired), it still contains much philosophical and linguistic insight.
  • Philosophy of Logic. A concise and witty undergraduate treatment of a number of Quinian themes, such as the prevalence of use-mention confusions, the dubiousness of quantified modality, and of the non-logical character of higher-order logics.

Quine also wrote two advanced texts on logic, set theory and the foundations of mathematics. They employ the notation of Principia Mathematica which makes for hard reading: This article does not cite its references or sources. ... First-order predicate calculus or first-order logic (FOL) permits the formulation of quantified statements such as there exists an x such that. ... First-order predicate calculus or first-order logic (FOL) is a theory in symbolic logic that permits the formulation of quantified statements such as there is at least one X such that. ... Ad hoc is a Latin phrase which means for this [purpose]. It generally signifies a solution that has been tailored to a specific purpose, such as a tailor-made suit, a handcrafted network protocol, and specific-purpose equation and things like that. ... Analytic tableaux, or, more briefly, just tableaux, are a fundamental concept in automated theorem proving. ... The metalogic of a system of logic is the formal proof supporting its soundness. ... The Principia Mathematica is a three-volume work on the foundations of mathematics, written by Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell and published in 1910-1913. ...

  • Set Theory and Its Logic. Quine proposes yet another flavor of axiomatic set theory, then derives the foundations of mathematics therefrom; includes the definitive treatment of Quine's theory of virtual sets and relations. Fraenkel, Bar-Hillel and Levy (1973) do a better job of surveying set theory as it stood in the 1950s.

All five texts remain in print. Curiously, advocates of Quinian set theory are not warm to the axiomatic set theory Quine advocated in his two advanced texts, and invariably confine their enthusiasm to NF and offshoots thereof proposed by others. The Principia Mathematica is a three-volume work on the foundations of mathematics, written by Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell and published in 1910-1913. ... In mathematical logic, New Foundations (NF) is an axiomatic set theory, conceived by Willard Van Orman Quine as a simplification of the theory of types of Principia Mathematica. ... In set theory and its applications throughout mathematics, a class is a collection of sets (or sometimes other mathematical objects) that can be unambiguously defined by a property that all its members share. ... In mathematical logic, Gödels incompleteness theorems are two celebrated theorems proved by Kurt Gödel in 1931. ... Kurt Gödel Kurt Gödel [kurt gøːdl], (April 28, 1906 – January 14, 1978) was a logician, mathematician, and philosopher of mathematics. ... Alfred Tarski, original name Alfred Teitelbaum (b. ... Raymond Merrill Smullyan (born 1919) is a mathematician, logician, philosopher, and magician. ... Adolf Abraham Halevi Fraenkel (February 17, 1891 - October 15, 1965), known as Abraham Fraenkel, was a German / Israeli mathematician. ... Yehoshua Bar-Hillel (1915-1975) was a philosopher, mathematician and linguist at MIT and the Hebrew University. ... This does not cite its references or sources. ... This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ...

Academic Genealogy
Notable teachers Notable students
Rudolf Carnap
Clarence Irving Lewis
Alfred North Whitehead
Donald Davidson
Daniel Dennett
Dagfinn Føllesdal
Gilbert Harman
David Lewis
Hao Wang

Rudolf Carnap (May 18, 1891, Ronsdorf, Germany – September 14, 1970, Santa Monica, California) was an influential philosopher who was active in central Europe before 1935 and in the United States thereafter. ... Clarence Irving Lewis (April 12, 1883 Stoneham, Massachusetts - February 3, 1964 Cambridge, Massachusetts) was an American academic philosopher. ... Alfred North Whitehead, OM (February 15, 1861 Ramsgate, Kent, England – December 30, 1947 Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA) was an English-born mathematician who became a philosopher. ... Donald Davidson (March 6, 1917 – August 30, 2003) was an American philosopher and the Willis S. and Marion Slusser Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. ... Daniel Clement Dennett (b. ... Dagfinn Føllesdal (sometimes spelled Follesdal), is the Clarence Irving Lewis Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University, and professor emeritus at the University of Oslo. ... Gilbert Harman (born 1938) is a contemporary philosopher teaching at Princeton University who has published widely in Ethics, Epistemology, Metaphysics, and the philosophies of Language and Mind. ... David K. Lewis David Kellogg Lewis (September 28, 1941 – October 14, 2001) is considered to have been one of the leading analytic philosophers of the latter half of the 20th century. ... Hao Wang 王浩 (1921 – 1995) was a Chinese-American logician, philosopher and mathematician. ...

Quotations

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Willard Van Orman Quine
  • "No entity without identity".
  • "Ontology recapitulates philology". (Attributed to James Grier Miller in the epigraph of Word and Object)
  • "Philosophy of science is philosophy enough".
  • "To be is to be the value of a bound variable". (From "On What There Is")
  • "The Humean predicament is the human predicament".
  • "Quantification is the ontic idiom par excellence".
  • "We cannot stem linguistic change, but we can drag our feet. If each of us were to defy Alexander Pope and be the last to lay the old aside, it might not be a better world, but it would be a lovelier language" (Quiddities is chock-full of similar sentiments).
  • When asked what the correct collective noun for logicians was, he replied "It is a sequitur of logicians".
  • "Life is algid, life is fulgid. Life is what the least of us make most of us feel the least of us make the most of. Life is a burgeoning, a quickening of the dim primordial urge in the murky wastes of time" (interview in Harvard Magazine, quoted in Hersh, R., 1997, What Is Mathematics, Really?).
  • "'What is there?' It can be answered, moreover, in a word--'Everything'--and everyone will accept this answer as true." (From "On What There Is".)
  • "...in point of epistemological footing the physical objects and the gods differ only in degree and not in kind. Both sorts of entities enter our conception only as cultural posits. The myth of physical objects is epistemologically superior to most in that it has proved more efficacious than other myths as a device for working a manageable structure into the flux of experience." (From "Two Dogmas of Empiricism".)
  • "The state lottery is a public subsidy of intelligence since 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." (From "Quiddities".)

Image File history File links Wikiquote-logo-en. ... Wikiquote is a sister project of Wikipedia, using the same MediaWiki software. ... Alexander Pope, an English poet best known for his Essay on Criticism and Rape of the Lock Alexander Pope (21 May 1688 – 30 May 1744) is generally regarded as the greatest English poet of the early eighteenth century, best known for his satirical verse and for his translation of Homer. ...

Notable books by Quine

  • 1951 (1940). Mathematical Logic. Harvard Univ. Press. ISBN 0-674-55451-5.
  • 1966. Selected Logic Papers. New York: Random House.
  • 1980 (1941). Elementary Logic. Harvard Univ. Press. ISBN 0-674-24451-6.
  • 1982 (1950). Methods of Logic. Harvard Univ. Press.
  • 1980 (1953). From a Logical Point of View. Harvard Univ. Press. ISBN 0-674-32351-3. Contains "Two dogmas of Empiricism."
  • 1960. Word and Object. MIT Press; ISBN 0-262-67001-1. The closest thing Quine wrote to a philosophical treatise. Chpt. 2 sets out the indeterminacy of translation thesis.
  • 1969. Ontological Relativity and Other Essays. Columbia Univ. Press. ISBN 0-231-08357-2. Contains chapters on ontological relativity, naturalized epistemology and natural kinds.
  • 1969 (1963). Set Theory and Its Logic. Harvard Univ. Press.
  • 1986 (1970). The Philosophy of Logic. Harvard Univ. Press.
  • 1986. The Time of My Life. Harvard Univ. Press. His autobiography.
  • 1987. Quiddities: An Intermittently Philosophical Dictionary. Harvard Univ. Press. ISBN 0-14-012522-1. A work of humor for lay readers, very revealing of the breadth of his interests.
  • 1992 (1990). Pursuit of Truth. Harvard Univ. Press. A short, lively synthesis of his thought for advanced students and general readers not fooled by its simplicity. ISBN 0-674-73951-5.

The indeterminacy of translation is a thesis propounded by Willard Van Orman Quine, perhaps the most famous analytic philosopher of the 20th century. ... Confirmational holism is the claim that scientific theories are confirmed or disconfirmed as a whole. ... A term for a range of philosophical positions that link the concept of epistemology to natural science. ... In philosophy a natural kind is a family of entities possessing properties bound by natural law; we know of natural kinds in the form of categories of minerals, plants, or animals, and we know that different human cultures classify natural realities that surround them in a completely analogous fashion (Molino...

Important Articles

  • Two Dogmas of Empiricism - The Philosophical Review 60 (1951): 20-43. Reprinted in W.V.O. Quine, From a Logical Point of View (Harvard University Press, 1953;

Quines paper Two Dogmas of Empiricism, published 1951, is one of the most celebrated papers of twentieth century philosophy in the analytic tradition. ...

Literature about Quine

  • Gibson, Roger F.

The Philosophy of W.V. Quine: An Expository Essay (Tampa: University of South Florida, 1982/86);


Enlightened Empiricism: An Examination of W. V. Quine's Theory of Knowledge (Tampa: University of South Florida, 1988);


Perspectives on Quine, R. Barrett and R. Gibson , eds.; (Oxford: Blackwell, 1990);


The Cambridge Companion to Quine, R. Gibson, ed., (Cambridge: University Press. 2004);


Quintessence: Basic Readings from the Philosophy of W. V. Quine, R. Gibson, ed., (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard Unsity Press, 2004).

  • Ivor Grattan-Guinness, 2000. The Search for Mathematical Roots 1870-1940. Princeton University Press.
  • Hahn, L. E., and Schilpp, P. A., eds., 1986. The Philosophy of W. V. O. Quine (The Library of Living Philosophers). Open Court.
  • Köhler, Dieter, 1999/2003. Sinnesreize, Sprache und Erfahrung: eine Studie zur Quineschen Erkenntnistheorie. Ph.D. thesis, Univ. of Heidelberg.
  • Orenstein, Alex (2002). W.V. Quine. Princeton University Press. 
  • Valore, Paolo, 2001. Questioni di ontologia quineana, Milano: Cusi.

Ivor Grattan-Guinness (Born 23 June 1941, in Bakewell, England) is a prolific historian of mathematics and logic, at Middlesex University. ...

Quine in popular culture

A computer program is a collection of instructions that describe a task, or set of tasks, to be carried out by a computer. ... In computing, a quine is a program (a form of metaprogram) that produces its complete source code as its only output. ... Rock and roll (also spelled Rock n Roll, especially in its first decade), also called rock, is a form of popular music, usually featuring vocals (often with vocal harmony), electric guitars and a strong back beat; other instruments, such as the saxophone, are common in some styles. ... Robert Quine (December 30, 1942 - May 31, 2004), a native of Akron, Ohio, was a guitarist known for his innovative guitar solos. ...

See also

  • Hold come what may
  • Hold more stubbornly at least
  • Quine-McCluskey algorithm

Douglas Richard Hofstadter (born February 15, 1945) is an American academic. ... Hold come what may is a phrase popularized by the late Harvard philosophy professor, W. V. Quine. ... Hold more stubbornly at least is a phrase popularized by the late Harvard philosophy professor, W. V. Quine. ... The indeterminacy of translation is a thesis propounded by Willard Van Orman Quine, perhaps the most famous analytic philosopher of the 20th century. ... Quine-McCluskey algorithm is a method used for minimization of Boolean functions. ... In computing, a quine is a program (a form of metaprogram) that produces its complete source code as its only output. ... Quines paradox is a paradox concerning truth values, attributed to W. V. O. Quine. ... The Schock Prizes were instituted by the will of philosopher and artist Rolf Schock (1933-1986). ... Quines paper Two Dogmas of Empiricism, published 1951, is one of the most celebrated papers of twentieth century philosophy in the analytic tradition. ...

External links

  • Obituary from The Guardian: "Philosopher whose revolutionary ideas challenged the accepted way we look at ourselves and our universe "
  • Text of "Two Dogmas of Empiricism"
  • In Defense of the Analytic-Snythetic Distinction, A Rebuttal of Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism
  • ¿Cuál es el lugar de la filosofía? Consideraciones a partir del relativismo ontológico y epistemoogía naturalizada de Quine (Spanish)
  • Text of "On Simple Theories Of A Complex World"
  • Gavagai with Peppers
  • Eight book descriptions from HUP
Preceded by
Schock Prize in Logic and Philosophy
1993
Succeeded by
Michael Dummett
Philosophy Portal

  Results from FactBites:
 
Willard Van Orman Quine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (3135 words)
Willard Van Orman Quine (June 25, 1908 – December 25, 2000), usually cited as W.V. Quine or W.V.O. Quine but known to his friends as Van, was one of the most influential American philosophers and logicians of the 20th century.
Quine falls squarely into the analytic philosophy tradition while also being the main proponent of the view that philosophy is not conceptual analysis.
Quine's criticisms played a major role in the decline of logical positivism although he remained a verificationist, to the point of invoking verificationism to undermine the analytic-synthetic distinction.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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