This paper is based on the "cratylus", although there is occasional reference to other dialogues. In plato's contrast between the language of the gods and the language of mortals, we may discern something like the contrast between ideal and ordinary language. By names he means terms which have both reference and sense necessarily; such terms are also verbs, for verbs are names of actions and actions are realities; for instance, a blow. The criterion for the identity of names is that (...) they mean the same thing. "statements".unlike names, statements have meaning without necessarily having any reference. A word is a name "only" if what it names exits, whereas a statement may be false. A statement achieves meaning by purely internal criteria as to its composition. "the structure of statements". A statement is not a list of names; it is a unity and has meaning only in its character as a unity. Ryle's view that the terms in a sentence are not independent constituents and that their meaning is contextual is presented. The author concludes that plato is undecided on this matter. (shrink)
The initial paradox is simple: The ideal state, as Plato describes it, is composed of un-ideal individuals. Both the warrior class and the masses are deprived of reason and must be governed by the philosopher-king. How can one legitimately call a community perfect when so many of its members are imperfect ? My point here is logical; the word ‘ideal’ is used in a self-inconsistent manner.
What is it that leads the author to take up the particular problems which he studies in this book? The topics do not of themselves fit into a structure. The author would dissent from this statement. For instance he says that the book ultimately attempts to clarify the relation between mind and body. With all respect, I suggest that the book could be more suitably entitled "Problems of philosophy in which I have been interested and which I have discussed with (...) myself or with friends on various occasions." The author succeeds in communicating his own zest and interest to the reader. The unity of the book lies rather in its attitude--which I will describe as a combination of empirical analysis with commonsense. But the word "analysis" should not mislead the reader into supposing that the author is a member of the Oxford Group. I am using the word "analysis" in its old-fashioned sense to mean "clear and distinct ideas and definitions." The author would prefer to speak of an analysis of the meaning of words; yet essentially his quest is not different from that of Socrates who aimed to clarify ideas, nor from that of Descartes with his insistence on clear and distinct ideas. But as against the latter at least, the author would insist that philosophical analysis should have empirical roots and an empirical reference. By speaking of commonsense as a component of the author's attitude I mean something more than his addiction to empiricism. I mean his espousal of commonsense categories like, for instance, substance and property, and his preference for commonsense usages. For example, Professor Ducasse rejects behaviorism for the professed reason that the commonsense usage of the word "observation" includes introspection as well as external perception. But I will try to show that the alliance between clarity and commonsense in the author's mind often dissolves into an undeclared and a cold war between them, in which commonsense has the worst of it. (shrink)
The initial paradox is simple: The ideal state, as Plato describes it, is composed of un-ideal individuals. Both the warrior class and the masses are deprived of reason and must be governed by the philosopher-king. How can one legitimately call a community perfect when so many of its members are imperfect? My point here is logical; the word ‘ideal’ is used in a self-inconsistent manner.
Moralists have raised the question as to how punishment may be justified, and their answers to the question generally have been of two sorts: they have appealed to the principle either of retributive justice or to that of beneficial consequences. I will argue that the question itself is illegitimate and that therefore the answers should be dismissed as irrelevant. For punishment is not a separate act or operation calling for justification; rather it is the last act of a play beginning (...) with a command or regulation which includes a threat and ends up with punishment. The demand for justification is legitimate only when addressed to the command; one may properly ask what are the justifying reasons for the imperative, was it a good law, was the command well-advised, and so forth. And the answers will appeal either to principle or to consequences according to one's ethical position. But in no case will retribution be relevant, since that is not how an imperative may be justified at all. Retributive justice has been thought to be relevant because punishment has been regarded as an independent operation. Now, consider a battle of which an incident is the capturing of a hill from the enemy. What one judges is the plan of the whole battle, of which the taking of the hill is an operation entailed by the general plan. The attack on the hill may require heroics, but heroics are not a consideration in estimating the plan. The question of retributive justice is no more relevant to the justification of the imperative than that of heroics to the drawing up of the battle-plan. Thus, my point is that punishment is, so to speak, built in to the command; what we need then is an analysis of commands--or orders as I prefer to call them--of which punishments are logically necessary incidents. (shrink)