[lit-ideas] Re: The nothing noths

  • From: "" <dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> (Redacted sender "Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx" for DMARC)
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2015 19:53:49 -0500

I know it was O. K. who raised the topic of the references, so I did check  
with D. P. Henry and his treatment of the Heidegger
 
i. The Nothing noths.
 
Henry provides a symbolisation of the above, and notes that it's a logical  
truth, or what I would prefer, a tautology. Henry is into mediaevalism, and 
not  really into Heidegger, and he does not quote from Ayer, or Grice, for 
that  matter. He would occasionally quote from Austin.
 
But notably, indeed, Henry is criticising Carnap's take, so I will  
concentrate on the remaining of this post to comment on McEvoy's point about  
Carnap. 
 
Henry seems to think that Carnap, and Whitehead/Russell for that matter  
have a restricted view of what constitutes a language, and in their conception 
 indeed
 
i. The Nothing noths.
 
comes out as a piece of nonsense.
 
Henry focuses on the 'the' of (i) and considers Russell's
 
ii. The king of France is bald.
 
Since we do allow for the use of 'the' when it comes to 'vacuous'  
expressions, the same applies to Heidegger's (i). 
 
Henry also then goes on to point out the uniqueness (or 'singularity', as  
Henry prefers) of "Nothing", thus capitalised. It's not
 
iii. Nothing noths.
 
or
 
even as the subject header goes
 
iv. The nothing noths.
 
but what Heidegger's translator has, i.e. 
 
i. The Nothing noths.
 
So basically, while mainly interested in mediaeval material, Henry goes on  
to note that there is a way to defend Heidegger as 
 
-- not having uttered any kind of nonsense
-- having uttered some logically true utterance
 
This is what Henry refers to as the 'metaphysical bearing'. He suggests  
that according to the choice of the language one makes, one will have a  
metaphysical bias towards this or towards that.

Now onto McEvoy's further references to Popper and Witters.
 
It should be pointed out that Henry does not GRANT that Heidegger would be  
happy with HIS (i.e. Henry's) analysis. Henry suggests that there is indeed 
more  to "Nothing" than (i) and to evaluate Heidegger's claim (i) one may 
have to  explore further onto "Nothing".

In a message dated 2/19/2015 10:03:19  A.M. Eastern Standard Time, 
donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx writes:
I suggest it is  a cul-de-sac to frame the discussion in terms of Heidegger 
vs. Carnap [Heidegger  vs. Wittgenstein or H vs. Popper would be more 
fruitful, for example]."
 
From what follows, McEvoy's idea is that Carnap is into the 'unity of  
science', and that the only possible language is the language of science.  
KEYWORD: Scientism. 
 
From the Henry discussion, I learn that Carnap (like most logical  
'positivists') is intebted to Russell/Whitehead, so I'm not sure a validation 
of  
_science_ per se is what we have to deal with. Rather is the choice of a 
vehicle  for formalisation, Henry seems to suggest.
 
McEvoy goes on:
 
"Carnap is too poor an enemy against which to pit Heidegger: Carnap's  
strictures as to meaning are mistaken and they are mistaken even in relation to 
 
the 'language of science' that Carnap wishes to take as the be-all and 
end-all  of "sense"."
 
Here McEvoy makes a distinction between
 
i. Carnap's conception of language in general.
ii. Carnap's conception of the language of science.

I would need to double-check here, but it seems Carnap's constrictions,  or 
'strictures', to use McEvoy's phrase, are Whitehead's and Russell's -- 
which  are indeed Grice's! (Vide Grice, "Definite descriptions in Russell and 
in 
the  vernacular").

I write "Whitehead's and Russell's" because we are referring to "PM"  (or 
Principia Mathematica for long) and Whitehead is the first author.
 
(OTOH Henry's choice of a language is NOT PM, but rather the Polish school  
he learned from Geach -- and that J. L. Scherb also quotes.
 
McEvoy goes on:
 
"The fundamental flaws in Carnap's approach do not validate Heidegger's  
metaphysics, of course: but we should not be misled that the fundamental  
question with Heidegger's metaphysics is whether it is nonsense (as Carnap  
contends) but whether it is mistaken or wrongheaded."
 
This is what Henry, being a mediaevalist, but having a GREAT sense of  
humour, calls the 'quaestio subtilissima', or 'quæstio subtilissima', and how  
these apparent sophismas have a 'metaphysical bearing'.
 
If they have a metaphysical bearing, it may mean that indeed, they should  
not be treated as nonsense, but as metaphysical claims with pretensions of 
truth  and even logical truth and validity.
 
Henry criticises Carnap for not _seeing_ that.
 
McEvoy concludes his post:
 
"On the fundamental issue of whether there is any metaphysical reality  
beyond that expressible in scientific terms, we might say H is fundamentally  
right and C fundamentally wrong (and on this issue W and P are with H)."
 
I think Henry and Grice are with Martin Heidegger, too. After all, Grice  
said that Heidegger was the greatest living philosopher.
 
I'm less sure about Whitehead and Russell. They were perhaps not  
philosophers when they wrote "Principia Mathematica". I BELIEVE their  
affiliations 
at Cambridge at that time were with the Department of Mathematics!  
(Whitehead became a philosopher when he went to Harvard!)
 
But in any case, I don't think Whitehead and Russell were particularly  
interesting in either defending or debunking metaphysics!

Grice WAS, interested in DEFENDING it, seeing that Oxford, unlike  
Cambridge, has a full CHAIR -- the Waynflete Professorship of Metaphysical  
Philosophy.
 
And surely, as the Oxonian adage goes, if there is the Waynflete Professor  
of Metaphysical Philosophy, surely there is Metaphysical Philosophy.
 
McEvoy goes on:
 
"This leaves entirely open that H is fundamentally wrong in his attempts to 
 metaphysise that reality."
 
Well, it's fascinating, I find, that it was Gilbert Ryle, who later became  
the [insert number]th Waynflete professor of metaphysical philosophy at 
Oxford  was the first (in Oxford) to find geniality in Martin Heidegger's 
"Being and  Time". Even before the thing was published in English (cfr. 
Benedeto 
Croce,  'traduttore traditore') he cared to review the German thing ("Sein 
und Zeit")  for _Mind_.
 
Heidegger's metaphysics may be called 'nihilistic' as far as 'The Nothing  
noths' claim goes. Or not?
 
In logic, logicians speak of the 
 
~
 
or tilde, which is negation.
 
"The Nothing noths" seems to involve negation -- although not necessarily  
for Henry, who relying on some Polish notation of some sort, seems to get 
away  with a formalisation of Heidegger's claim that does NOT rely on 
 
~
 
or its truth-tables.
 
So while KEYWORD: NIHILISM applies more to Sartre and his "le néant  
néantisant" as a description of conscience, the place of (i) The nothing noths, 
 
or 'The Nothing noths', if you must, in Heidegger's metaphysical system may 
be  trickier to validate or even characterise!?
 
Cheers,
 
Speranza
 
ps. The agenda of the explication project is set by a German  pre-war   
debate between Rudolf Carnap and Martin Heidegger about  allegedly  
meaningless  
metaphysical statements such as "The  Nothing noths" ("Das  Nichts  
nichtet"). Within the mainstream of  20th century analytical  philosophy 
this 
statement, "The Nothing noths"  has come  to be regarded as obvious 
metaphysical  nonsense. As we  all know, this  led to an unfortunate 
confrontation between analytical  and continental  philosophy. Despite the 
fact that 
this former  judgement had been corrected in a  short remark by the 
Mancunian  philosopher Desmond Paul Henry in the 1960s,  which he  repeated 
more  
explicitly in the 1980s, this unnecessary conflict  still seems  to  exist. 
Unfortunately Henry's remark didn't find its way to  a  greater audience, 
perhaps 
because Henry didn't prove his claim in a  canonical  way, perhaps because  
it contains an ambiguity, which  may give rise to  criticism. However, the 
required disambiguation  together with the missing proofs  can and will be 
given 
here within  Lesniewski's ontology. Following Ludger  Honnefelder we can 
call the  Lesniewski systems, which were developed  roughly at the same 
time  
(1913-1939), the third beginning of  metaphysics.  They will  provide the 
still 
missing bridge between Carnap and  Heidegger, which  can be regarded as an 
ontological supplement to and a  partial  correction  of Michael Friedman's 
brilliant background study on   Heidegger, Carnap and  Cassirer. The 
hermeneutical conclusion to be  drawn  is that reconciliation between  the 
two types of 
philosophy  is not only  possible along Cassirer's ideas, but  also along 
the  
lines of broadly  logical form. In other words: there IS a more  
fundamental 
way for   reconciliation. The hermeneutical outcome is  as follows: one can 
make use of  precise logic tools in a more general  way than Carnap himself 
without  declaring at least some  central  statements of Heidegger's  
Fundamentalontologie to be pure    nonsense."
 
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