PHIL 448/547, Pelletier
Mondays 1800-2050; CAB 357
Prof: F.J. Pelletier
Assiniboia Hall 3-45
This page will be the place where I post (links to) readings, assignments, due dates, and general announcements, so you should monitor this for class information. Most of my downloadable documents are pdf, so you need a pdf reader to read them. A reader is free and can be downloaded from here.
A syllabus for this course is here. Some ramblings about things to read and a possible order in which to do the reading is here. This is tentative, except for the fact that I want to start with Russell's "Logical Atomism” of 1924. It is in our Ayer anthology, and various other places, such as the Bertrand Russell Logic and Knowledge (ed. R. Marsh), in case you happen to have a nice Russell library. I will try to get a pdf of it for this class. Keeners and want-to-be-Russell-scholars could also read the very long Russell (1918) Lectures on Logical Atomism, which was also published in four parts in the 1918 Monist, so you can get them online through our library.
After reading the Logical Atomism original document, you may wish also to look at a nice article on Russell's Logical Atomism in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (http://plato.stanford.edu). As a comparison with Wittgenstein, here is an article on Wittgenstein's logical atomism from the same Encyclopedia. And here is an article by Bernard Linsky on the metaphysics of Russell's logical atomism. It was published in The Cambridge Companion to Russell (ed. N. Griffin, 2003).
A fun thing to read is this about Wittgenstein’s PhD oral. You might already know, but we’ll mention it in class, that Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus was published in German in 1921 (and in English the year following), it wasn't until 1929 that it was used as the basis for a PhD from Cambridge. Frank Ramsey was the (official) supervisor, G.E. Moore and Bertrand Russell were the examiners at the Viva (as the final oral exams were called). Here is a "recreation" of Wittgenstein's Viva - sort of on the "unfriendly" side, written by Laurence Goldstein.
After this period…starting in the late 1920s…(English- and German-language) philosophy took two differing directions: (mid-life) Wittgenstein-influenced ordinary language philosophy and logical empiricism (aka logical positivism). We will look at writings from both of these schools. Stay tuned for a list of readings; we’ll start with the positivists.
(Abbreviations for our anthologies: Ayer = A.J. Ayer Logical Positivism; Rorty = R.M. Rorty The Linguistic Turn; Friedman = M. Friedman Reconsidering Logical Positivism; Lyas = C. Lyas Philosophy and Linguistics. Maybe I’ll add more abbreviations later.)
As mentioned above, the first reading is Russell’s “Logical Atomism”. It is available as the first article in Ayer. It is also available in the collection of Russell papers by R. Marsh (ed.) Logic and Knowledge: Essays 1901-1950; and D. Pears The Philosophy of Logical Atomism. The much longer series of eight lectures “The Philosophy of Logical Atomism” was published in The Monist in four installments between Oct. 1918 and 1919. This is reprinted in the Marsh and Pears volumes just mentioned. The Pears book is available online as pdf, and you can get a copy from here. If you want just the 1924 “Logical Atomism” essay, it is available here (the version as reprinted in Pears).
As mentioned above, the other secondary literature about Logical Atomism will give you a deeper appreciation of the theory. If you have the time (it’s still early in the semester!) you should read the SEP entries mentioned above and perhaps the Linsky article.
Here is a short biography of Wittgenstein from the “Basic Famous People” people. There are many aspects of Wittgenstein and his life that it doesn’t talk about. As part of our “sociology of philosophy” in the 1920s and 1930s, you should read the recreation of Wittgenstein’s Viva, mentioned above. It’s short and fun. We will also see the movie Wittgenstein, which is an “experimental cinema” by the director Derek Jarman. Here is a writeup about it. Later in the class we will talk more about this “sociological” aspect of philosophy. The standard biography of Wittgenstein is Ray Monk’s Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius (1990). But there are lots of other works that round this picture out more fully. Later in the course we’ll look at material from Norman Malcolm’s Ludwig Wittgenstein: A Memoir, and possibly O.K. Bouwsma Wittgenstein: Conversations 1949-1951.
The first readings from the Logical Empiricists (aka Logical Positivists) are by Moritz Schlick and Rudolf Carnap. We are going to read these before turning our attention to the more “popular” version of Empiricism presented by Ayer in his Language, Truth, and Logic. On the “Partial Schedule of Readings” I listed
Schlick (1930) “The Turning Point in Philosophy” (in Ayer)
(1932) “Positivism and Realism” (in Ayer)
(1930) “The Future of Philosophy” (in Rorty)
Carnap (1932) “The Elimination of Metaphysics Through Logical Analysis of
Language” (in Ayer)
(1934) “On the Character of Philosophical Problems” (in Rorty)
(1950) “Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology” (in Rorty) [and here (html)]
I asked that you read at least two of either Schlick or Carnap, and one by the other. Reading all is good for you. The Ayer book also contains two further essays by Schlick two more by Carnap. It’s all good for you!...if you have the time.
We will also be discussing the notion of “Protocol Sentences”, as it makes its appearance in the Empiricist’s thought. Here are some articles:
Otto Neurath (1932/1933) “Protocol Sentences” (in Ayer)
Schlick (1934) “The Foundation of Knowledge” (in Ayer)
(there were others, too: Carl Hempel “On the Logical Positivists’ Theory of Truth” Analysis 1935; “Some Remarks on ‘Facts’ and Propositions” Analysis 1935; and Bela von Juhos “Empericism and Physicalism” Analysis 1935)
As became apparent in last night’s lecture (Sept. 24th), I’ve been very sloppy about readings and what is going to be discussed. Despite what I said just above, my lecture (in the second half of the class) was about (and will continue to be about, next week)
Carnap (1932/1933) “Psychology in Physical Language” (in Ayer)
Neurath (1932/1933) “Protocol Sentences” (in Ayer)
Schlick (1934) “The Foundation of Knowledge” (in Ayer)
All of these are about the role of “protocol sentences”, with attempts to define them. Carnap takes a “physicalistic sense-data” approach, Neurath denies incorrigibility, and Schlick tries to find a midpoint between these two approaches. If you can read German, these three articles are available electronically through our library in their original form (Erkenntnis, volumes 3 & 4).
As mentioned above, there will be a presentation about Carnap’s 1928 Logical Structure of the World (often called the Aufbau, from its German title). There are a couple of copies of this book (bound together with Carnap’s Pseudo-Problems in Philosophy) in the Rutherford Library. There probably are also copies in the Departmental library. As well, you could probably borrow Sam Hillier’s copy or Bernie Linsky’s copy….or others in the Department. There’s a lot of detail in the book, but we are going to stick with general issues (I believe—it’s up to the presenter!).
Some few years ago the journal Topoi started a series of “untimely reviews”. These are reviews of classic works in philosophy but written as if the work had just appeared. Here is the half-page description by the journal editors about their project. One of the first, if not the first, of these untimely reviews is of Rudolf Carnap The Logical Construction of the World (the Aufbau). Here is that untimely review, by Hannes Leitgeb.
The Aufbau’s project was continued by Nelson Goodman in his The Structure of Appearance (1951), but otherwise the general project of “constructing the world logically” has fallen out of favour. [Goodman’s book was very favourably reviewed by Carl Hempel in Phil. Review 1953. Here is that review.] Michael Friedman has tried to re-invigourate the discussion in his “Carnap’s Aufbau Reconsidered” chapter of the Reconsidering Logical Positivism recommended book. There is also a chapter in the book on “Epistemology in the Aufbau”. These were both published earlier in journals, although the book versions are updated. [The former is in Nous 1987; the latter is in SynthŹse 1992.]
I mentioned earlier that Rose Rand, the mathematician and a younger member of the Vienna Circle, kept track of various Wittgensteinian positions and whether the members of the Circle agreed with them or not. Here is her original document (it’s a jpg). Although it is in German, you can see that she employed a colour scheme to code blue for "yes", red for "no", green for "meaningless", and a ? mark for "indeterminate/undecided". Each of the questions is asked about "before the Tractatus", "in the Tractatus", and "after the Tractatus", and each of the main members of the Circle have their answers coded in. I guess there is Schlick, Waismann, Carnap, Neurath, Hahn, and Kaufmann. (As far as certain of the discussions we’ve had in class go, #3 on her notes is “Language pictures Reality”; #6 is “A sentence pictures a fact”; #7 is “The meaning of a sentence is its method of verification”. I’ll give out the English translations in class next week…I really ought to check my versions with a native German speaker.)
Well, I only checked out the second thesis with a native speaker, who, like me, found it puzzling. But despite that possible lack of precision in my translations of the various “theses”, here’s what I’ve got:
1. By establishing rules, philosophy will clarify the concepts and rules of science.
2. Philosophy aims at clarifying the concepts and propositions of science and everyday life. [It accomplishes this] not by prescribing rules for the use of words but by displaying the rules of the use of a word and by pointing out the logical consequences of such rules. More precisely: Philosophy does not mandate certain uses of a word but it legislates against confusing the consequences of adopted rules or against not to follow [such a rule once it is adopted].
3. Language is a picture of reality.
4. Language is a system of sentences which are compared one to the other. One is not allowed to talk about a picture of reality, because that would be to introduce a metaphysical concept.
5. A sentence is a configuration of words that become meaningful by means of their syntax. [?...that are determined by means of their syntax?]
6. A sentence pictures a fact.
7. The sense [meaning?] of a sentence is its method of verification.
8. The method of verification exists in the definition of the words that occur in the sentence. Words in the definiens can be further defined.
9. Verification comes to an end when one comes to ostensive definitions, which define the word with reference to the given.
10. There is only one kind of definition: namely, definition by words. Definition by reference to experiences is not possible, because one is not allowed to speak of experiences.
11. Definition is an end. [?...is a determination? …comes to an end? …is definite?]
Check out on Rand’s chart who believed what, before and after the Tractatus and what they thought was said in the Tractatus.
I will talk about the following topics on the first half of the October 1st meeting and the October 15th meeting. (Recall that October 8th is a holiday). We will finish the discussion of protocol sentences; I will talk about the Positivist’s view of ethics, and we will discuss the (in)famous principle of verification. The second half of the October 1st meeting will see Andrew Tedder talk about Carnap’s Aufbau.
New Readings: First a reminder: if you are totally on top of things about the positivists, you will have read the articles about protocol sentences….both the ones I set out at the beginning and the other Carnap one that I actually talked about. You would also have read the Leitgeb “untimely review” of the Aufbau (links to all that stuff are above), and maybe you would have found the Pinnock article in Philosophy Compass (2009) that discusses the Aufbau. (Here is a pdf of that article). And maybe you would even have read some of the Aufbau itself!
The next readings to do come from Ayer’s Language, Truth, and Logic, and a related article. I will be talking myself about the following two things in this Ayer book: Ayer’s Introduction to the 2nd edition…paying particular attention to his discussion of the principle of verification, and his Chapter 6 “Critique of Ethics and Theology”. Related to this chapter on ethics is the article by C.L. Stevenson “The Emotive Meaning of Ethical Terms”. This article is in the big Ayer anthology, and is also here. Related to the principle of verification is a famous article by Hempel, which is in the Ayer anthology and which you can find here.
Assignment: You will recall that you are supposed to do two short summaries over the term. It’s time for your first one!! Normally I would assign it a week before it is due, but since next weekend (and Monday) are the Thanksgiving Holiday, I thought I should extend the due date to Thursday, October 11th. Please submit them electronically, before 11.59pm on Thursday October 11th. Recall that the goal of these short summaries is to prove to me that you actually read some article that was not one of the assigned pieces. To do this, you should summarize the article…possibly making a quick criticism of it, if something occurs to you…taking two pages of regular typing to do it. Here are the articles you can choose from:
1. Articles in the Ayer anthology that we have not already mentioned, and not ones for future discussions. So, you canNOT write about the articles (you’re supposed to have already read them!...or will read them soon)
a. Russell “Atomism”
b. Schlick “Turning Point”, “Positivism & Realism”, “Foundations of Knowledge”, “Future of Philosophy”
c. Carnap “Psychology…”, “On Protocol Sentences”
d. Neurath “Protocol Sentences”
e. Hempel “Empiricist Criterion”
f. Stevenson “Emotive Meaning”
g. And don’t do any of the “Analytical Philosophy” articles, which are the last three in the Ayer anthology.
h. Note an exception: You are allowed to write about the three Carnap articles mentioned way above in this page: “Elimination of Metaphysics”, “Philosophical Problems”, and “Empiricism, Semantics…”
2. Chapters that have an independent interest in Ayer’s Language, Truth, Logic, and which we won’t discuss so much in class. This means you can write any one of Chapters IV, V, VII, and VIII.
When you prepare your paper, please put your name and “Phil 448” or “Phil 547” (as appropriate) at the beginning, and state what paper/chapter you are summarizing, as your title. Try to stay within two pages. Although I won’t mark off for overly-long summaries, that is not the intent of this exercise. Try to highlight the important points made in the work under discussion, and don’t get carried away by too many “interesting follow-up topics” or “details of argumentation” (unless these are themselves particularly interesting). As I said above, I’m giving these assignments to convince myself that you have actually read the work you are discussing!
I can accept any of doc, docx, rtf, pdf, txt, dvi, tex, ps and maybe other formats. (But the Word, rtf, and pdf are easiest to comment on electronically). Don’t submit wpd (WordPerfect) documents…a program I don’t own. If you use WordPerfect, please save as doc, docx, or pdf and send that.
After the discussion of the Verifiability Principle and the Emotive Theory of Ethics, we will leave the Logical Positivists/Empiricists and pick up “ordinary language philosophy” of the 1930s and 1940s.
One of the topics that was mentioned at the Oct. 1st class concerned the Prioritätstreit (“priority dispute”) between Wittgenstein and Carnap over Carnap’s paper “Die Physikalische Sprache als Universalsprache der Wissenschaft” (Erkenntnis 1932). The literal translation of the title would be “Physical Language as the Universal Language of Science”, but it was translated into English by Max Black and published in 1934 as a short book titled The Unity of Science. I mentioned in class some of the Wittgensteinian assertions about plagiarism and some of Carnap’s comments in response. I attach a paper “Wittgenstein versus Carnap on Physicalism: A Reassessment” (an slightly earlier version of David Stern’s paper of a different title that occurs in A. Richardson & T. Uebel (eds) The Cambridge Companion to Logical Empiricism, 2007, pp. 305-331). I think you would find it interesting. Part II of the work is a timeline for when and how Wittgenstein met various members of the Circle. You might find it especially interesting in the discussion of Waismann and Wittgenstein. (Wittgenstein had engaged Waismann to “write up Wittgenstein’s new philosophy”; but it never got published until 1967 — reference in the bibliography: under Waismann Wittgenstein and the Vienna Circle: Conversations Recorded.) But it is Part III that quotes extensively from the Wittgenstein-Schlick-Carnap exchange and which tries to adjudicate the extent of “plagiarism”. It’s quite interesting.
One offshoot of the Vienna Circle was “Logical Empiricism in Scandinavia”, led by Arne Naess (often spelled ‘Ness’, especially early on). We will very briefly look at a few of his pre-WWII things, and postpone the remainder until after we talk about the 1930s—1940s ordinary language philosophers. An early article of his that you may wish to look at is his short “Common Sense and Truth” from Theoria 1938. In it you may see similarities with modern “experimental philosophers”.
We are now ready to move away from the Logical Empiricists. This will be a bit of a shift backwards in time, back to the early 1930s, when Wittgenstein was presenting new thoughts to students and professors at Cambridge. A nice early piece of his evolving ideas comes from the beginning of The Blue Book. These were notes, dictated to Francis Skinner, from his 1933-1934 class, which were bound up and printed with a blue cover. (The 1934-1935 notes [dictated to Skinner and Alice Ambrose] were printed up with a brown cover. [There was also the Yellow Book (containing further material that Wittgenstein apparently decided not to have included in the Blue and Brown books). Further, just recently a manuscript in pink covers…the Pink Book…was discovered in 2011 in the archives of the University of Cambridge. See http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/features/unpublished-wittgenstein-archive-is-explored/ .] The Blue and Brown sets of notes were distributed to “friends”…which most definitely didn’t include Carnap…but weren’t really published until 1958 when they were compiled and edited by Rush Rhees as Preliminary Studies for the “Philosophical Investigations”, Generally known as The Blue and Brown Books.) Wittgenstein himself thought of translating these into German, but gave up on the project as “worthless”. I am told that Petra von Morstein who taught for years in the Philosophy Department at the University of Calgary has the distinction of being the only translator of Wittgenstein into German. She translated the Blue and Brown books into German as volume five of Die Wittgenstein-Werkausgabe und ihre Quellen im Nachlass. You can buy an electronic version of the (English version of the) Blue and Brown Books at barnesandnoble.com for $14.10. I can’t find any electronic version of the beginning few pages, so will scan it and put it here. G.E. Moore also attended most of the 1930-1934 lectures by Wittgenstein, and published his notes from those classes in two articles: 1954 and 1955. You might also find the article by Bouwsma reviewing the published version to be very interesting, both philosophically and historically (it contains reminisces by Alice Ambrose about the process of taking these notes…and seems to be the source of the “class” that was imagined in the Jarman movie that we watched). This article also discusses later portions of the Blue Book that are not included in the opening few pages scanned above. And, it gives a nice example of the style of “doing philosophy” – as opposed to propounding philosophical theses that are buttressed by arguments – that was favoured by the Wittgensteinian school during the 1930s/40s/50s. (It is in contrast to the Oxford-style of “ordinary language philosophy” that we will study a bit later). Another account of what teaching and doing philosophy in this style is given by “D.A.T.G and A.C.J.” (their full names weren’t disclosed, although they presumably were students of Wittgenstein) in an “In Memoriam” article in the Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 1951…sort of a philosophical obituary. It was written of course after Wittgenstein’s death but before the publication of Philosophical Investigations. Here is that article, which gives a vivid picture of being a student under Wittgenstein. Other obituaries and reminisces of Wittgenstein are by Russell and by Wisdom (the greater). Georg Henrik von Wright wrote what is often reckoned to be the best biography of Wittgenstein, although I also recommend that you look at http://www.wittgen-cam.ac.uk (and click on Biography; then work your way through the entire life) if you are interested in this topic. The von Wright biography also appeared as the opening essay in Norman Malcolm’s Wittgenstein: A Memoir. (Unfortunately, Malcolm’s essay doesn’t seem to be available electronically. A review of the Malcolm book by C.D. Broad can be found at http://www.roangelo.net/logwitt/broadcd.html . As you will see, if you read this review and the commentary about Broad that follows this version of the review, Broad “couldn’t stand” either Wittgenstein’s manner of philosophizing nor Wittgenstein himself. [Broad thought philosophy was an exercise in explicit reasoning—where reasons are given and explanations of meaning were not shunned; they were not a place for oracular pronouncements. Wittgenstein thought “giving explanations spoiled their [his ideas’] beauty.”] Broad objected to the Tractatus being awarded a PhD on these grounds; but despite his opinions, he said that “to refuse the chair to Wittgenstein would be like refusing Einstein a chair of physics”. (Broad was the Knightbridge Professor of Philosophy at Cambridge at the time Wittgenstein was proposed as the Professor of Mental Philosophy and Logic to succeed G.E. Moore.)
Bernie Linsky gave me this document, which seems to be published by a special interest group (interested in religion) from the University of Colorado. He says he thinks it was in Adam Morton’s materials when he left here. But I wonder if it maybe was in his father’s collection. Anyway, it contains (starting on the inside, on p.2) a strange article by John Nelson. It recounts the visit to Cornell Univ. by Wittgenstein in 1949, and the talk he gave to the Cornell Departmental Colloquium. Apparently the overall article (by Nelson) was written in 1978, but published in this format in 1986. It also contains a chunk of a 1968 book review by Bill Glass that recounts the same events in a different way. And finally, it contains a letter from Norman Malcolm (who housed Wittgenstein during this period) asking whether it was Nelson’s or Gass’s account that was right.
Ordinary language philosophy has two different flavors, and seems to have arisen from two different fonts: the one from Wittgenstein at Cambridge and the other at Oxford, perhaps by Gilbert Ryle. The former is usually characterized as anti-theoretical and the latter as “systematic” (or sometimes, “theory-friendly”). For the former group we will read not only the Wittgenstein work mentioned just above, but also
A brief Wikipedia entry on Wittgensteinian methodology (copied into rtf here)
John Wisdom’s “A Feature of Wittgenstein’s Technique” (Proc. Aristotelian Soc. Supp. Vol. 1961, and available here)
John Wisdom’s “Philosophical Perplexity” (in the Rorty anthology, and available here).
O.K. Bowsma’s “Descartes’ Evil Genius” (Phil.Rev. 1949, and available here).
Norman Malcolm “Moore and Ordinary Language” (in Schilpp The Philosophy of G.E. Moore 1942) (also in Rorty)
And although we won’t be reading stuff from Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations in any detail, I’d like to contrast the material in §§23-28 with the work of John Austin in How to do Things With Words. Here is an rtf file with this part of the Investigations copied into it. I’m not sure why it has the weird formatting issues…
A second type of ordinary language philosophy seems to start with Gilbert Ryle’s 1932 “Systematically Misleading Expressions” (which is in the Rorty anthology, and available here). Since Wittgenstein (and many of his students) were “philosophically opposed” to publishing things…the students partially because they would have to get approval from Wittgenstein, who would always either deny that they were reporting him correctly or say that they were misappropriating his ideas…the strand of ordinary language philosophy that became the central part of academic philosophy was the Oxford version, whose main leaders were Ryle and John Austin. More detailed reading about them will be put up in the following weeks.
Other works of Ryle that we will look at are:
Material on “Categories” and “Category mistake” in his Concept of Mind. This is mostly in Chapters 1 and 2. An electronic version of the Concept of Mind (first edition) is available at http://archive.org/stream/conceptofmind032022mbp#page/n1/mode/2up. Just skim the first couple of chapters, looking for his remarks on category-mistakes. (Ryle had written an early  article with the title “Categories”, which is here, if you wish to look at it. But the stuff in The Concept of Mind is sufficient for what we will discuss.) Related to categories is this early criticism by J.J.C. Smart (1953). Other things we need to discuss by Ryle are:
“Ordinary Language” (1953)
“Use, Usage and Meaning” (1961) (symposium with J.N. Findlay)
Along with the Ryle material on ordinary language we will look at this methodological work of John L. Austin: “A plea for excuses” (1956) This article is long, but pay special attention to the “methodological part”, starting with the paragraph that begins “So much, then, for ways…” (mid-p.7) and going to the end of this part marked by *’s on p.15. Of course, the different “general lessons to be learned” that begin just after that (labeled #1--#13) are also of great interest.
Some articles that surround this topic are:
R.M. Hare “Philosophical Discoveries” 1960
P.L. Heath “The Appeal to Ordinary Language” 1952
R. Gale, D. McGee, F. Tillman “Ryle on ‘Use’, ‘Usage’, and ‘Utility’” 1964
J. Passmore “Ryle’s Use of ‘Use’ and ‘Usage’” 1954
One of the topics that came out of the discussion of the methods of ordinary language was “the paradigm case argument”. Here are a few papers on that topic:
J.W.N. Watkins “Farewell to the Paradigm-Case Argument” 1957
A. Flew “ ‘Farewell to the Paradigm-Case Argument’: A Comment” 1957
H.B. Alexander “More about the Paradigm-Case Argument” 1958
J. Passmore “Arguments to Meaninglessness” in his book Philosophical Reasoning pp.100-118. In Rorty.
C.K. Grant “Polar Concepts and Metaphysical Arguments” 1955/1956
The topic of the Nov. 5th class will be the Ryle “misleading expressions” and the material on “categories” (from either Concept of Mind or “Categories”, you choose). Included here is the Smart article cited above. As well, we will look at the indicated portion of Austin’s “Plea for Excuses”. An example of the methodology in action from one point of view was given by Malcolm in the piece that was presented last week. Another example is in this Henson piece which accuses Russell of violating ordinary language.
We probably will also be looking at the three “paradigm case” papers and the Passmore piece. Besides the paradigm case argument, another of the arguments used in Oxfordian Ordinary Language Philosophy was “the argument from contrast”, discussed in various books that I will bring to your attention but apparently not discussed in any specific article (although some discussion of it is in the Passmore selection just cited).
Here is a recording of Austin’s voice: http://olponline.wordpress.com/2010/07/29/audio-j-l-austins-voice (a few minutes into the clip)
Somewhere along the line I want to bring (some parts of) Austin’s How to do Things With Words to your attention. This is Austin at work trying to classify all the different things that can be done with language. But unlike Wittgenstein, who seemed to think that there was literally an unlimited or infinite number of such things (see the material above from his Philosophical Investigations), Austin thought that it was manageable (although large) and that there could be a complete theory of “what we can say”. I’ll post a few things from Austin’s book a little later, and we’ll discuss them maybe in the last class meeting.
Don’t forget that there is NO CLASS ON NOV. 12th!
I will make the second “short summary” assignment on Nov. 19, and it will be due one week later (electronically, as before) by midnight on Nov. 26th.
Here is a link (available Nov. 19th) to the list of articles for you to do your second summary about. As before, two or three pages that demonstrate that you read and understand the article.
And here is a link to a set of possible paper topics for your final paper. It includes what I could remember of topics I mentioned in class plus some other things. Of course, you are certainly free to choose your own topic, so long as they are relevant to the course. You can discuss possible topics with me, if you wish; but this is not a requirement. I am also required to remind you about the University’s position on plagiarism. Short story—don’t do it. It’s not nice. Just credit every source you use—quote them or paraphrase them, but then cite the article/book that had the idea or words in it. (Use page numbers in addition to just saying the title). Here is something I once wrote for grad students in Computing Science (who were not used to writing research papers, unlike philosophy students). I have modified it for this course. Even though it contains a lot of stuff you already know, you might wish to look at it as a source for organizing your papers.
On Nov. 19th we will look at the underlying assumptions of “ordinary language philosophy”, including such issues as whether there is any such thing as “ordinary language”, and who the “we” is when they say “we say X; we don’t say Y”. This sort of argumentation includes issues of whether it is really legitimate to infer anything about “what’s going on in the world” from the way “we” use natural language. And of course, just what is “natural” about natural language. Much of the positive argumentation for ordinary language philosophy is embodied in the Austin “Plea” selection. Additionally, Ryle in particular discussed issues concerning the difference between (correct) use of language vs. the usage that may be common in the community. Read the two papers by Ryle linked above (his 1953 and 1961 papers). Some people also find the Hare paper (link above) to be helpful as an explanation of ordinary language philosophy (he uses an analogy of knowing what steps a dance consists of vs. being able to dance correctly).
Various people objected to this general account. The Heath paper (above) gives one direction that objections take. [This paper has a number of citations at the end for further argumentation of this sort against ordinary-language philosophy. If you have some time, you could check them out. Maybe even write a term paper on the topic, trying to adjudicate who is right.] A different direction, aimed especially at Ryle’s use vs. usage distinction, is in the Gale/McGee/Tillman paper (above). I will also report on some of the argumentation that occurs in Ernst Gellner’s Words and Things (1959).
The following will probably be the topic of the following week, Nov. 26th, but it is possible that some of it may be part of the Nov 19th discussion.
This will lead into what I think was the most telling of the series of arguments. This direction came from two sources: one source (which was pretty much ignored until a lot later) was from Arne Naess and his students of “empirical semantics”. (Rather than reading the rather difficult Naess works, take a look at Crockett 1959 and the amusing Tennessen 1959 and 1960, if you have the time.) The other source, which is strikingly similar to at least one part of Naess’ “empirical semantics”, started with an article by Benson Mates and a reply by Stanley Cavell. (Note that they both appeared in Arne Naess’ then-new journal Inquiry.) In turn, there were a large number of articles that took one or the other side of the Mates/Cavell debate. We will look at least at Fodor & Katz (1963) [maybe Jerry Fodor’s first publication?] and Henson (1965).
There was a lot of heated controversy among philosophers and many claims of intellectual dishonesty directed at ordinary language philosophy and it practitioners. Check out
Bertrand Russell on Ordinary Language Philosophy. More of this sort of thing will come. One of the things I’ll be reporting on later is Ernst Gellner’s Words and Things (1959). Bertrand Russell wrote the “dedication”(?) remark (before the table of contents in this copy of the beginning of the book) and also a “foreword”, which occurs after the table of contents in this copy. More invective from Russell! (I highlighted the “dedication” so you don’t miss it J). Gilbert Ryle was the editor of Mind from 1947 (when he took over from Moore) to 1971 (when David Hamlyn took over from Ryle). Dan Dennett says “He [Ryle] edited the journal autocratically, reading all the submissions and making most decisions regarding publication without consulting anybody.” When the Gellner book was sent by the publisher to Mind for review, Ryle returned it saying “Abusiveness may make a book saleable, but it disqualifies it from being treated as a contribution to an academic subject.” Ved Mehta puts it thus: “Ryle refused to have this book reviewed on the ground that it was abusive and, at least by implication, accused many of these [ordinary-language] philosophers of disingenuousness.” (Here is a review in the Times Literary Supplement of Ved Mehta’s Fly and the Fly-Bottle.) Bertrand Russell wrote an indignant letter to the Times (of London), which generated a number of replies, mostly from philosophers. But also one from Ryle which said
Sir,--In the book referred to by Earl Russell in his letter published on November 5, about 100 imputations of disingenuousness are made against a number of identifiable teachers of philosophy; about half of these occur on pages 159-192 and 237-265.
GILBERT RYLE, Editor, Mind
Someone who is taking a leisurely vacation over Christmas and wants something to read while otherwise doing nothing, could get a copy of Gellner’s book and see whether or not they can find about 50 imputations of disingenuousness on those pages. There were also opinion pieces and further commentary on the issue of whether – even if it were true – imputations of disingenuousness should make a book unsuited for review in Mind. (Rumour has it that Bertrand Russell told Ryle a year later that he made a silly and stupid mistake in not reviewing it. If he wanted to have the book make no impression, he should have given it a medium-sized review (in the middle of many other reviews) that said it had some interesting points to make but was sometimes not too accurate in its target. And then misspell the author’s name.) Here is a review in the Economist of Gellner’s book (unsigned, but obviously by an ordinary language philosopher); and here is an article from the Economist about “the hatreds of the philosophers”. Here is a longer review (in Phil. Review, by Willis Doney, an American philosopher) that is pretty negative about Gellner.
In North America the feeling among non-committed Wittgensteinians (well, maybe except Doney) seemed to follow the first sentence of Clark Glymour’s preface to his Theory and Evidence (1981). It didn’t help Ryle’s reputation on this side of the Atlantic that he had published (1949) a nasty and (most think) uncalled-for and just plain ignorant review of Carnap’s Naming and Necessity (1st edition, 1947). Many American philosophers, especially those of a more formal bent, thought it showed a lack of understanding of Carnap, and a particularly unsavory side of ordinary language philosophy. Here is that review.
Quite amazingly, there is still someone trying to defend ordinary language philosophy and does it by attacking the Gellner book. T.P. Uschanov (in “Ernest Gellner’s Criticisms of Wittgenstein and Ordinary Language Philosophy” [available both as an early version on his website and as a chapter in G. Kitching & N. Pleasants (eds) Marx and Wittgenstein: Knowledge, Morality, Politics (2002)…available as ebook at our library, the article starts on p.23…but the earlier version is more juicy]) claims “I think that Words and Things is a very bad book and that its influence has been almost totally deleterious.” He also says “One of the first things that strike the reader of Words and Things is Gellner’s extreme rudeness. Hardly a paragraph goes by without some invective being used.” Uschanov wants “…to take some tentative steps to clean the name of a period in which, in P.F. Strawson’s words, ‘the gains and advances in philosophical understanding made … were probably as great as any that have been made in a comparably short time in the history of the subject’.” So, I guess if you’re going to read Gellner, you should also read this article for the other side.
The area of Ordinary Language Philosophy died sometime in the 1960s or 1970s. Some people think that the area called Conceptual Analysis is the same as Ordinary Language Philosophy, and therefore think that it too died then. Others think that they both are the same as Analytic Philosophy and so it also is dead (as opposed to “the Analytic Tradition”, which in their mind continues as methodology only and no doctrine). The reasons given for the death of Ordinary Language Philosophy are varied, and you will find the following amongst them (given in [my impression of] the order of their popularity as reasons for the death):
1. Quine’s “demolition” of the analytic-synthetic distinction in “Two Dogmas of Empiricism”, and his related work on naturalizing philosophy.
2. Grice’s work on “Logic of Conversation”, which illustrated reasons – totally apart from the “meaning” of the words/sentences – that we would (or would not) use some particular phrase/words/syntax instead of some other one.
3. The Mates/Cavell exchange and the resulting literature.
4. The Ernst Gellner Words and Things (1959) together with Ved Mehta’s The Fly and the Fly-bottle (1963), which were more “popular” books that resonated with “the educated non-philosopher”.
5. Various particular criticisms, such as the ones we studied concerning the Paradigm Case Argument, the Argument from Polar Contraries, and the problems with Categories, made a number of outsiders more sure that there wasn’t anything to Ordinary Language Philosophy argumentation. And there were also some more extended academically-oriented books, such as C.W.K. Mundle A Critique of Linguistic Philosophy (1970) and Keith Graham J.L. Austin: A Critique of Ordinary Language Philosophy (1977). But these more “serious” books are rather later than the fatal illness, and maybe are more like obituaries that record the dubious youthful mis-adventures of a dead or dying doctrine.
We will have a presentation on Quine’s “Two Dogmas” and the reply to it by Paul Grice and Peter Strawson. This will be on Nov. 26th. Be sure to read the articles and have some critiques or questions for the presenter.
The final topic will be about Grice’s “Logic of Conversation”, and will be on the last day of class, Dec. 3rd. (This version is the first published version of [this part of] Grice’s 1967 William James Lectures (Harvard), published in 1975…although they were circulated “underground” for many years beforehand. I have a mimeographed version copied in 1969. Grice’s many works on language are collected in his Studies in the Way of Words, 1989. This version includes a lot of Grice’s “afterthoughts” and “retrospective essays” on these topics. In addition it includes Grice’s work on “presupposition”. Every serious philosophy of language student should own this book.)
And on that same last day of class we will look also at parts of Austin’s How to do Things With Words. Here is one part of that book. I seem unable to find an electronic version of Austin’s discussion of “locutionary/illocutionary/perlocutionary acts”, so I am putting up John Searle’s commentary (he likes it basically, but thinks Austin is too confusing). You can find a discussion of Austin’s “speech acts” in most elementary philosophy of language books, if you think that is an easier read than the Searle. Do try to look at something or other about the distinction.
DO NOT FORGET that final papers are due electronically before midnight on Monday, Dec. 10th.