21 September 2008

Briefly Noted

Truth and Predication is now available in paperback. The "Predication" part is okay. I'm not sure I quite get how Davidson thinks Tarski (unwittingly) solved the problem -- it wasn't clear to me if he meant to distinguish Tarski from Frege on any grounds other than the fact that Tarski doesn't posit entities to correspond to predicates (whereas Frege did). I may have rushed through that last part, though; the book was due back at the library.

The book is notable for a few things, though. Davidson discusses Sellars and Strawson at more considerable length than he does elsewhere, for one. He doesn't discuss Wittgenstein at length. An editorial footnote:

[Davidson added the following note about this chapter: "My decision not to talk about Wittgenstein's view needs a comment. The reason is simply that try as I may I cannot satisfy myself that I have a sufficiently justified opinion what his views on predication were. I lament my failure here (as no doubt elsewhere) to fill in an important piece of the picture. There were clearly portentous exchanges between Frege and Wittgenstein, and between Wittgenstein and Russell. I have touched on some of the consequences of these exchanges, though of course I do not know exactly what they contained."]
I suspect Davidson had similar reasons for not discussing Wittgenstein much of anywhere else: He wasn't satisfied that he had justified opinions as to just what Wittgenstein thought.

The book's probably not worth reading unless you just like reading Davidson, or you haven't read "The Structure and Content of Truth" elsewhere. As posthumous works go, I guess it beats the Opus Postumum, but it's no Philosophical Investigations.

Also, as a trivial note, Davidson finally is satisfied by an account of non-referring terms:"[Parsons comments (in his notes on the original manuscript): "Davidson conditionalizes the whole truth definition with ('p' is true or 'p' is false) > ('p' is true IFF p)." Davidson remarks: "Wonderful! This also takes care of names that don't name."]" -- I remember Davidson admitting in a few essays (as an aside) that he didn't know what to do with non-referring singular terms. Seems he's happy to go paracomplete; I have no objections.

Next note: "Mr. Strawson on Logical Theory" was pretty good. I wish I'd read it a few months ago, when N.N. et al were discussing analyticity. I really need to read McFarlane's dissertation some day.

I confess that until recently I thought Strawson's "Introduction to Logical Theory" was just a logic textbook. An ordinary-language critique of modern symbolic logic sounds pretty interesting. (Though Geach notes in a brief review in "Mind" that Strawson is insufficiently critical about the fit between the traditional syllogistic logic and ordinary language -- I gather that the book is, in part, a defense of the virtues of the Old Logic. I found both of these essays about Strawson while trying to find "On Referring", which I have not read because, really, who does things that they set out intending to do? That is boring.)

Sudden transition: Finklestein's Wittgenstein seminar this term is limited to PhD students. I was leaning away from it anyway, since it conflicts with Haugeland's class. Apparently it's the first course at Chicago on the latter Wittgenstein in five or six years -- Conant's TLP class last term was the first time the early Wittgenstein was taught in about as long. Apparently this is something the PhD students at Chicago often complain about: you have to get your Wittgenstein subterraneanly/extracurricularly.

The Wittgstein Worksop is also limited to PhD students (or others with special permission), and I have a conflict with it this fall anyway. Hopefully I can manage to at least hear Price and Murray talk in February; I want to know how Murray's paper ends, and Price's paper is a lot of fun.

On a further not-good-note, Leiter Reports notes that Haugeland is retiring after this year. Well, I guess it's a good time to take a Heidegger course with him, then. :v

I'm halfway through "Truth and Finitude: Heidegger's Transcendental Existentialism". It's great so far. As a bit of idle speculation, I wonder if what Haugeland identifies as "ontological sofindingness" might be useful in formulating an argument against dialetheism. (See, ontological sofindingness is the rejection of impossibilities in Dasein's projecting-on of the possibilities of entities. Which works out to be a rejecting of inconsistent characterizations of entities. So at least on the surface, this looks like it might be a ground for denying that there can be true contradictions without relying on Explosion. If there's some "ontological" reason to reject inconsistent possibilities, then maybe that can be useful other places where Just Saying No To Contradictions crops up.)

An aside that probably could've just been a short e-mail to Duck: Isaac Levi can't really think that beliefs about set theory are incorrigible. For the first few beliefs of that sort that Frege & Russell had lead to inconsistency, hence they were revised in fact, hence they must have been corrigible in principle. So his exclusion of logic/set theory/mathetmatical beliefs from consideration in "The Enterprise of Knowledge" seems like it has to be (at least in part) for simplification.

A happy note about Chicago: There's a conference on (if memory serves) practical philosophy in the spring. McDowell will be there. So will several other people I know I was somewhat excited about when I heard about their attending, but whose names I now am forgetting. Hooray McDowell~

Another happy note: The guy on the faculty who studied Spinoza left last year. So, the Early Modern Philosophy Workshop suddenly had no one to run it. It has since been retooled into the "Modern Philosophy Workshop". Note that the page says it has been "expanded to cover the entire modern period". This is a bluff. All of the fall speakers are talking about Kant, except for Sally Sedgwick, who's talking about Kant and Hegel. Apparently the Early Modern Workshop generally had people talking about Spinoza and Leibniz. I am totally happy to make that trade.

Another happy note: I don't have to read any more Freud! Hooray!

A note on Chicago (not that one): I like the view from my apartment, and the weather's gotten a little better. Still not good weather, but not as bad as it had been. I still hate buses and think anyone who honestly likes the public transportation here must never have lived someplace where it was easy to get around by car, like Dallas. I miss Dallas. (Getting around by bus here is easier than trying to drive around and find a place to park, but I count that as a strike against the city generally. Getting anywhere takes forever here, no matter how you go about it. I suspect this will just get worse once it gets colder out and the nights come earlier.)

Only one more week until real classes start! The stupid theory class will keep going, but at least Freud will be done! Yeah for not-Freud!


J said...
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Duck said...

I should just say I'm sure you're right about Levi, but I've never been sure what exactly he thinks goes in the "Urcorpus". Maybe there's a difference between "logical beliefs" and beliefs *about* logic. Ultimately, for our purposes anyway, I don't think it matters that much. At least I hope it doesn't.

J said...
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