[lit-ideas] Re: criteria

  • From: Adriano Palma <Palma@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Omar Kusturica <omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 20 Feb 2015 11:15:47 +0000

Sorry Omar, Hume if not Kant determined that in pretty clear (or minimally to 
me convincing) fashion.
The existence of causal laws, namely the nomic nature of nature  is, at best, 
assumed by sciences or general knowledge, it is not itself an empirical finding 
of anybody or of any individual.

From: Omar Kusturica [mailto:omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx]
Sent: 20 February 2015 13:05
To: Adriano Palma
Subject: Re: criteria

I am not sure that these examples constitute metaphysical statements. If "vague 
statements" are defined in a non-vague way, the claim that there are vague 
statements could be empirically verifiable. I don't think that it is something 
that can be deduced a priori. So presumably with "causal laws."


On Fri, Feb 20, 2015 at 11:43 AM, Adriano Palma 
<Palma@xxxxxxxxxx<mailto:Palma@xxxxxxxxxx>> wrote:
Then, a metaphysical statement can be true (e.g. there are laws, for instance, 
to pick easy cases ‘there are laws of consequence” “ there are causal laws” 
“there are vague statements”) none of this is in physics, it may be worthwhile 
that metaphysics, even for Aristotelians, is what comes after physics. Nothing 
ever proposed a verifiability “criterion” that meets its own constraints, let 
alone a minimal of intelligence applied to it. Even Carnap understood it was 
bullshit by empiricist standards, not to mention Quine. Wittgensten, as usual, 
was confused since he had “pictures” and not theories of anything in 
particular. It may be a good ploy to be read non stop by the English department 
and the adverstising companies, who love Wittgenstein, I was told by two 

From: lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx<mailto:lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> 
On Behalf Of Omar Kusturica
Sent: 20 February 2015 12:35
To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx<mailto:lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: The nothing noths

Hm... surely it is possible to argue that certain statements that purport to be 
metaphysical are actually nonsense without making the sweeping claim that they 
all are. Neither is it necessary to posit the criterion of empirical 
verifiability for statements to be meaningful as the positivists did. (It might 
be argued that statement has to be meaningful in at least some sense in order 
for us to be able to tell whether it expresses an empirically verifiable 
proposition.) Here are some of the possibilities:

A statement in metaphysics [a metaphysical statement, proposition] may have at 
least three values:

1. It may be nonsense -- i.e. an undefined combination of words. (Of course 
this might be the value of a statement in any subject, not just philosophy.)

2. It may be a disguised rule of grammar (PP p. 312) -- rather than the 
statement of fact ("real definition") its author the metaphysician intends it 
to be.

3a. It may be a suggestive picture -- i.e. one that suggests images to us, but 
that takes us no further. The proposition 'It's 5 o'clock on the sun' 
illustrated by "a grandfather clock which points to 5" (PI§ 350), and maybe the 
"questions without answers", are examples of these.
Many such pictures give a false account of the way we use some "sign" or other 
of our language -- i.e. they are a mistaken understanding of the sign's 
"grammar" (The distinction between a sign and its use in the language), e.g. 
the word 'mind' as the name of an invisible object.

3b. Or it may be a way of looking at things -- i.e. speculation that is not 
subject to falsification by anomaly. (Note that some scientific theories are 
also ways of looking at things -- that is, ways of summarizing [organizing] a 
selected set of data [Every scientific theory is facts plus imagination] -- 
that are not falsifiable, e.g. the heliocentric and geocentric models of the 
solar system.)
Of course it may also simply be an idle picture -- although note well that 
metaphysicians know that their pictures cannot be compared with "perceptible 
reality" -- i.e. that their metaphysical propositions are not empirical 
propositions -- and therefore it does not trouble them that their speculative 
propositions cannot be verified or tested by experience. For, metaphysics says, 
"Our experience is only experience of appearances, not of reality itself"; cf. 
Plato's cave image (Republic515c). Which statement may be an example of senses 
(2) or (3a) of the word 'metaphysics'.
Some religious pictures may resemble these "idle pictures", because they also 
are not hypotheses; however, pictures in religion are used very differently 
from the way metaphysicians use pictures, e.g. they are not speculative.

3c. Or it may be a picture that it is "logically impossible" for us to be 
taught how to apply: "How is this picture, e.g. Michelangelo's God creating 
Adam (LC, p. 63), to be compared with what it is said to be a picture of?" But 
there is no answer -- i.e. the word 'compare' is not defined in this particular 
case; indeed, the artist did not intend for a comparison to be made.

Source: http://www.roangelo.net/logwitt/logwit24.html

On Fri, Feb 20, 2015 at 11:14 AM, Redacted sender 
Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx<mailto:Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx> for DMARC 
<dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx<mailto:dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>> wrote:
On p. 121 of "Quaestio Subtilissima", D. P. Henry proposes this
formalisation of

i. The Nothing noths

(He distinguishes this  from

ii. The nothing noths.)

iii. ͻ[[Λ]](Λ)

The use of "[[...]]" Henry borrows from Oxford philosopher A. N. Prior.

On p. 120, he notes that the 'the' "portents some sort of singularity",
which Henry symbolises as

iv. sol(Λ)

Henry says that (iv)  justifies "the use of the capital initial letter".

Henry concludes the section on Heidegger with the remark that (i) can thus
be seen as being sensical and "a truth derivable from the deductive
metaphysics" which he is constructing.

I agree with J. L. Scherb that this was a "pre-war debate" (pre-Second
World War) between Rudolf Carnap and Martin Heidegger about allegedly (as  D.
P. Henry has it) meaningless metaphysical statements such as  "The Nothing
noths" ("Das  Nichts

Within the mainstream of  20th century analytical  philosophy  this
statement, "The Nothing noths"  has come to be regarded as  obvious metaphysical

And it was Sir Freddie Ayer who brought the news to Oxford. It is said that
 Oxford could not BEAR with the 'enfant terrible' -- but I WOULD
distinguish  between a Carnapian scientist approach and Ayer's, which was 
towards  empiricist epistemoly in general -- and Ayer did not stay at Oxford
for long,  finding a post in London. In terms of the history of philosophy,
this is seen as  Oxford never having 'bought' the idea that metaphysical
statements were, as Ayer  thought he had shown, after Carnap, 'meaningless'.
There were hordes of  philosophers practicising metaphysics THEN (think
Collingwood) as there are  hordes of philosophers practising metaphysics NOW at

As we all know, this led to an unfortunate confrontation between
analytical  and continental  philosophy -- with Sartre assuming the  
position and generalising it: "Das Nichts nichtet" and  consciousness is "le
néant néantisant".

The judgement of "The Nothing noths" as nonsense was somewhat 'corrected'
by D. P. Henry.

But the conflict still seems to exist.

Henry's remark didn't find its way to  a  greater  audience, because Henry
didn't *prove* his claim in a   canonical way, and because Henry's remark
may be alleged to contains  an ambiguity, which may give rise to criticism.

The required disambiguation, together with the missing proofs, can be given
 within the ontology introduced by Stanisław Leśniewski -- notably
protothetic -- that Grice adored ("protothetic (why?)" -- "Aspects of Reason" --
Grice had a taste for a Polish neologism).

Ludger Honnefelder calls the systems Stanisław Leśniewski, which  were
developed roughly at the same pre-war time  (1913-1939), a new  beginning of

They systems of Stanisław Leśniewski (that Henry learned via Geach --
whose  mother was Polish) provide the missing link (to use a  metaphor) between
Heidegger and Carnap (and Ayer).

The systems of Stanisław Leśniewski can thus be regarded as an ontological
 (if not metaphysical) supplement to and a  partial correction of  Michael
Friedman's essay on Heidegger, Carnap and Cassirer.

A  hermeneutical conclusion may be drawn from this that allows  for a
reconciliation between two types of

This is possible not only in terms of Cassirer's observations,  but also
along the lines of "logical form", broadly conceived -- as  Henry suggested.

The hermeneutical outcome suggests that one CAN make use  of PRECISE logic
tools in a more general  way than Carnap himself  allowed (if not Ayer and
less so Grice), alla D. P. Henry, without having  to declare that at a few
central  statements of Heidegger's   Fundamentalontologie are pure nonsense --
but rather pretty illuminating --  if you think of them ("and even if you



Ayer, Language, Truth and Logic
Grice, "System Q"
Grice, "Philosophical Eschatology".
Henry, Quæstio subtilissima.
Ryle, Review of Heidegger, "Sein und Zeit", Mind, 1929, vol. 38.

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