Ontological. Relativity. and. Other. Essays. W. V. QUINE This volume consists of the first of the John Dewey Lectures delivered under the auspices of Columbia University's Philosophy Department as well as other essays by the author.
Modern empiricism has been conditioned in large part by two dogmas. One is a belief in some fundamental cleavage between truths which are analytic, or grounded in meanings independently of matters of fact, and truth which are synthetic, or grounded in fact. The other dogma is reductionism: the belief that each meaningful statement is equivalent to some logical construct upon terms which refer to immediate experience. Both dogmas, I shall argue, are ill founded. One effect of abandoning them is, as (...) we shall see, a blurring of the supposed boundary between speculative metaphysics and natural science. Another effect is a shift toward pragmatism. (shrink)
Our only channel of information about the world is the impact of external forces on our sensory surfaces. So says science itself. There is no clairvoyance. How, then, can we have parlayed this meager sensory input into a full-blown scientific theory of the world? This is itself a scientific question. The pursuit of it, with free use of scientific theory, is what I call naturalized epistemology. The Roots of Reference falls within that domain. Its more specific concern, within that domain, (...) is reference to concrete and abstract objects: what such reference consists in, and how we achieve it. (shrink)
Kant's question 'How are synthetic judgments a priori possible?' pre- cipitated the Critique of Pure Reason. Question and answer notwith- standing, Mill and others persisted in doubting that such judgments were possible at all. At length some of Kant's own clearest purported.
Suppose now that two philosophers, McX and I, differ over ontology. Suppose McX maintains there is something which I maintain there is not. McX can, quite consistently with his own point of view, describe our difference of opinion by saying that I refuse to recognize certain entities. I should protest of course that he is wrong in his formulation of our disagreement, for I maintain that there are no entities, of the kind which he alleges, for me to recognize; but (...) my finding him wrong in his formulation of our disagreement is unimportant, for I am committed to considering him wrong in his ontology anyway. When I try to formulate our difference of opinion, on the other hand, I seem to be in a predicament. I cannot admit that there are some things which McX countenances and I do not, for in admitting that there are such things I should be contradicting my own rejection of them. (shrink)
In retrospecting "Two Dogmas" I find myself overshooting by twenty years. I think back to college days, 61 years agao. I majored in mathematics and was doing my honors reading in mathematical logic, a subject that had not yet penetrated the Oberlin curriculum. My new love, in the platonic sense, was Whitehead and Russell's Principia Mathematica.
With his customary incisiveness, W. V. Quine presents logic as the product of two factors, truth and grammar-but argues against the doctrine that the logical truths are true because of grammar or language. Rather, in presenting a general theory of grammar and discussing the boundaries and possible extensions of logic, Quine argues that logic is not a mere matter of words.