Pursuit of Truth

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Harvard University Press, 1990 - Philosophy - 113 pages

In Pursuit of Truth W. V. Quine gives us his latest word on issues to which he has devoted many years. As he says in the preface: "In these pages I have undertaken to update, sum up, and clarify my variously intersecting views on cognitive meaning, objective reference, and the grounds of knowledge?'The pursuit of truth is a quest that links observation, theory, and the world. Various faulty efforts to forge such links have led to much intellectual confusion. Quine's efforts to get beyond the confusion begin by rejecting the very idea of binding together word and thing, rejecting the focus on the isolated word. For him, observation sentences and theoretical sentences are the alpha and omega ofthe scientific enterprise. Notions like "idea" and "meaning" are vague, but a sentence-now there's something you can sink your teeth into.

Starting thus with sentences, Quine sketches an epistemological setting for the pursuit of truth. He proceeds to show how reification and reference contribute to the elaborate structure that can indeed relate science to its sensory evidence.In this book Quine both summarizes and moves ahead. Rich, lively chapters dissect his major concerns-evidence, reference, meaning, intension, and truth. "Some points;' he writes, "have become clearer in my mind in the eight years since Theories and Things. Some that were already clear in my mind have become clearer on paper. And there are some that have meanwhile undergone substantive change for the better." This is a key book for understanding the effort that a major philosopher has made a large part of his life's work: to naturalize epistemology in the twentieth century. The book is concise and elegantly written, as one would expect, and does not assume the reader's previous acquaintance with Quine's writings. Throughout, it is marked by Quine's wit and economy of style.

 

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Pursuit of truth

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Quine, retired now from Harvard, here undertakes to summarize and clarify his current--largely unchanged--philosophic views. The chapters deal with "evidence,'' "objective reference,'' "cognitive ... Read full review

Contents

EVIDENCE
1
Observation sentences
2
Theoryladen?
6
Observation categoricals
9
Test and refutation
12
Holism
13
Empirical content
16
Norms and aims
19
INTENSION
61
Perception extended
63
Perception of things
64
Belief and perception
65
Intension
67
Anomalous monism
70
Modalities
73
A mentalistic heritage
74

REFERENCE
23
Values of variables
25
Utility of reification
29
Indifference of ontology
31
Ontological relativity
33
MEANING
37
Stimulation again
40
To each his own
42
Translation resumed
44
Indeterminacy of translation
47
icj Syntax
49
Indeterminacy of reference
50
Whither meanings?
52
Domestic synonymy
53
Lexicography
56
TRUTH
77
Truth as disquotation
79
Paradox
82
Tarskis construction
84
Paradox skirted
86
Interlocked hierarchies
88
Excluded middle
90
Truth versus warranted belief
93
Truth in mathematics
94
Equivalent theories
95
Irresoluble rivalry
98
Two indeterminacies
101
References
105
Credits
109
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About the author (1990)

W. V. Quine was Edgar Pierce Professor of Philosophy, Harvard University. He wrote twenty-one books, thirteen of them published by Harvard University Press.

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