Tuesday, March 08, 2005

More from Labyrinth

Technical difficulties (damn you, Internet Explorer!) have prevented Rabbit from joining us for the nonce. An upgrade to OS X, and Firefox, may be the answer. In the meantime, here's more about my Labyrinth shipment of the other day. I like the idea of talking about books - Rabbit reads like a maniac and gets huge shipments from Labyrinth. He must have a dozen of those tote bags you get with a $100 order (I've got a few myself).

Peter J. McCormick, ed. - Starmaking: Realism, Anti-Realism, and Irrealism (MIT 1996)

Nelson Goodman was a big name in philosophy once. He's best known for contributing to the debate (with Hempel and Popper et al) about confirmation, induction, and semantic projectibility, in Fact, Fiction, and Forecast (you know, the stuff about "grue" emeralds). Now I happen to know that this stuff drives Rabbit crazy - he was an undergraduate philosophy major until he got fed up and fled to communications (this is at Penn in the early 80's, right Rabbit? Tell us about that. When you can.) After that, Goodman seemed to many to go around the bend, telling us in Ways of Worldmaking that we each literally live in different worlds, which we ourselves make. Of course this sounds like the rankest idealism (constructivism), and he was roundly criticized (or summarily dismissed). Now it's been a while since I read WW, so I'm not sure, but from where I sit this isn't any worse than realism. (Unfortunately it isn't any better either.) In fact it looks pretty much like the same thing, only flipped over. It leaves the subjective/objective dualism in place and rejects objectivity entirely in place of holding it up as an ideal (that is, an Ideal). That's no help - instead, we should keep objectivity and give up the dualism (the trick is what that means and how to do it). On the other hand, by failing in the way it does, that sort of idealist position (like Berkeley's) can help to bring out what I just said. Plus at least it's not realism.

Anyway, this book is a collection of stuff about WW: two chapters from it, plus attacks by Hilary Putnam and Israel Scheffler, Goodman's replies, and their replies, and so on. It looks good, but watch out: the three Putnam selections are all previously published, two in books. It's good to have it all in one place though.

In a different vein, we have:

Bruce Kucklick - A History of Philosophy in America: 1720-2000 (Oxford, 1995)

Just kidding, the date is 2001. Kucklick is an American philosophy scholar (duh). I thought he was at Carbondale (a.k.a. Dewey Central), but it says Penn (History dept). I read an article ("Does American Philosophy Rest on a Mistake?") by him in that mid-80's Cambridge collection called American Philosophy - that's a good collection, btw - in which he bemoans the fact that everyone thinks American philosophy is just Emerson, Thoreau, pragmatists, and the present, while in fact for a long time it was dominated by a battle between several distinct schools of theologically oriented thought. Fair enough, but I still think Emerson and Thoreau (and of course the prags) are more important for us now philosophically speaking than, I don't know [checks article], Horace Bushnell or Nathaniel William Taylor. So here's this book which presumably elaborates that thought, at least in the first part - the second part starts the pragmatist story, and the third brings us up to the present. The last chapter is 23 pp. long and covers the distance between 1962 (Kuhn) and 1999 (Rorty). Looks interesting, but for now: onto the shelf with you!

Phew - still have six more books to go.

No comments: