On 3/17/2011 12:17 PM, Avril Styrman wrote:
> what is your evaluation of this: given the total influence of Quine to
> science and to society, is the influence positive or negative? In other
> words, are the negative effects of blocking Peirce greater than the
> total positive effects of Quine? (01)
For my officially published thoughts on these issues, see (02)
The Role of Logic and Ontology in Language and Reasoning (03)
For more informal thoughts about who was guilty of misleading the entire
field of cognitive science (i.e., psychology, philosophy, linguistics,
AI, and a few others like anthropology), I would blame the positivists
starting with Ernst Mach and statisticians starting with Karl Pearson.
Einstein, for example, called Mach a good experimental physicist, but
a miserable philosopher. In writing about Bertrand Russel, Einstein
complained about his "Angst vor der Metaphysik". (04)
That movement influenced the Vienna circle, especially Carnap, and
the behaviorists in the US. For the history of logic, Russell tried
to downplay everybody else's influence in order to take major credit
for himself. Russell praised Frege, for example, but claimed that
he had reinvented everything himself before he read Frege. (05)
In his 1898 book, Whitehead had several citations of Peirce, but
Russell ignored Peirce in the intro to the Principia Mathematica. (06)
Clarence Irving Lewis, who wrote a history of logic in 1918,
devoted more pages to Peirce than to Frege, Peano, Russell,
or Whitehead. He became the chairman of the philosophy dept.
at Harvard, and he was instrumental in inviting Whitehead.
One reason was to have somebody who could evaluate Peirce's
manuscripts, which his widow donated to Harvard. But W.
passed that job to his graduate students, Weiss & Hartshorne. (07)
Quine earned his PhD at Harvard with Whitehead as his thesis
adviser and spent a year in Europe, visiting the Vienna Circlers.
He was strongly influenced by Carnap, who had been one of Frege's
few students. When Q. returned, he became a lecturer at Harvard. (08)
Around that time, Harvard introduced the title of Assistant Prof,
but left the choice of using it to the individual departments.
Quine was hoping to become an assistant prof, but Lewis didn't
see any need for that title. There is some gossip about that
episode creating bad blood between Lewis & Quine, which lasted
for the next 30 years. (09)
In any case, Quine was adamantly opposed to anything that Lewis
proposed. Lewis developed the first modern systems of modal logic,
which Quine promptly denounced (even though Q's best buddy Carnap
adopted modal logic). Lewis admired Peirce. Therefore, Quine
ignored Peirce. Lewis gave prominence to Peirce in his history
of logic. Therefore, Quine deleted Peirce from history. (010)
I would say that, on the whole, behaviorism was a disaster for *all*
the cognitive sciences. Quine gave some support to the later stages
of behaviorism, but it was well established before he got in the game.
But even his former PhD student, Hao Wang, called Quine's philosophy
"logical negativism". See (011)
Wang, Hao (1986) Beyond Analytic Philosophy: Doing Justice
to What We Know, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA. (012)
In any case, I believe that philosophy today would be in a far healthier
position if the logicians had followed Peirce, Whitehead, and the later
Wittgenstein. Instead, they followed Frege, Russell, Carnap, & Quine. (013)
P, W, & W had a much deeper appreciation for the nature of natural
language. F, R, C, & Q rejected NLs in favor of their own "purified"
vision. Throughout history, the puritans of every religious stripe
are the ones that start wars and witch hunts. (014)
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