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西方哲学概论-Quine


西方哲学概论
Introduction to Western Philosophy
外国语学院 林允清 ylin@buaa.edu.cn

Willard Van Orman Quine 奎因、蒯因
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Quine (1908 –2000) American analytic philosoph

er, logician Most influential philosopher in last century Most important works:
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“Two dogmas of empiricism” (1951) Word and Object (1960)

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Brief account of Quine?s Theory of Radical Translation Brief account of Quine?s rejection of the analytic-synthetic distinction

KANT

Four types of statements
analytic A posteriori A priori
Contradiction No such statements All bachelors are unmarried

synthetic
Water boils at 100 degrees There are three trees in the garden Every event has a cause In all communication of motion, action and reaction must be equal All mathematical knowledge is synthetic a priori

All bodies are extended

Quine rejects the analytic-synthetic distinction

I.
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Quine?s Theory of Radical Translation
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The question:
If we go to a remote jungle, and find some natives live there. They speak in a “jungle” language We do not understand a single word of it We can only listen and observe How can we translate a jungle language? This is called radical (原初、彻底) translation By setting up a translation manual

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The answer:
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1.How can we translate a jungle language? sentence ? sentence
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The scene:
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What does the native mean? When would the native say “Gavagai”?
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A rabbit scurries by(急速跑过), and the native says “Gavagai”

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A rabbit scurries by An ill-glimpsed movement in the grass, plus earlier observation of rabbits near the spot A local rabbit-fly (苍蝇) (the native somehow knows that rabbit-flies are always around rabbits) Another native just said “Gavagai”

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…… What would I say in such cases?
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So, I can translate “Gavagai” into “Rabbit”
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I would normally say “Rabbit”
But these two are sentences!

2.How can we translate a jungle language? word ? word???
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Does “gavagai” mean “rabbit”? E.g. “Le gavagai” means “This is rabbit”? Well, “Le gavagai” may mean “This is:
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a rabbit a stage of rabbit an integral part of a rabbit the rabbit fusion
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And there is no way to determine which one is THE translation
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rabbithood

A single, though discontinuous portion of the spatialtemporal world that consists of rabbits

indeterminacy of translation

Indeterminacy of Translation
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One might say that in this single case, it is impossible to decide which translation is correct, but if we consider more of the native language, more sentences on various occasions, then we will see which translation is correct But: we can always alter our belief-web, so that any such translation will work Ultimately, any translation could work

Translation manuals
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We think that the jungle language has recurrent parts – e.g. words, phrases We form Analytical Hypotheses
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This is basically ?jungle-to-English? dictionary and grammar In another word, this is a translation manual

Word1 ? English Wordx … Phrase1 ? English Phrasex …

About translation manuals
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In a translation manual
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There are many translational-hypotheses Each of these is just a hypothesis Nothing is proved by available evidence They in theory can all work But we normally only choose the most convenient one, out of pure pragmatic concerns

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There are always many translation manuals
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II. Quine?s rejection of the analytic-synthetic distinction
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Radical translation occurs in alien situations (e.g. in a jungle) It also occurs at home
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Suppose A also speaks English A?s words could mean anything A?s “cat” could mean “cat stage”, … We could always alter our translation manual to interpret A?s language differently Consists of many hypotheses We normally choose a theory because it is efficient, simple, etc.

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Each translation manual is a theory
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Everything is theorydependent
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All things are posits (假设)
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theoretical objects ordinary objects

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Theoretical objects are posits
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neutrino (中微子) was posited in 1933, and only confirmed in 1956 The hypothesis was based on theory of physics In fact, there are several types of neutrinos When two physicists talked about a neutrino in 1933, were they talking about the same thing?
You and me talk about cats Are we really talking about the same things? Maybe you ?cat? means ?cat stage? for me

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Ordinary objects are posits too
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“Arch” analogy (拱门比喻)
beliefs depends on one another

Copper oxide is green

There is copper in it

The stuff has gone green

Theory of chemistry

“Belief Web” analogy(信念网比
喻) beliefs are inter-connected
related to non-verbal simulations

related to non-verbal simulations

related to verbal simulations

related to verbal simulations

Revision in the belief web
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Beliefs directly related to stimulus are near the edge
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They are easy to revise

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Beliefs not directly related to stimulus are near the centre
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They are less easy to revise Revision of such a belief would need revision of many related beliefs

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Mathematics, logic are at the very centre
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They are most difficult to revise

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But any belief is in principle revisable They is no strict separation between revisable beliefs and unrevisable beliefs So, there is no analytic-synthetic distinction

Exam questions
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Chose and answer 4 and only 4 questions You can answer in English or in Chinese The questions:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Explain Descartes?s proof of the existence of God Explain Locke?s “complex ideas” Explain Kant?s “pure concepts” Explain Russell?s “logical atomism” Explain Quine?s “indeterminacy of translation” Explain Strawson?s “conceptual scheme” Explain the later Wittgenstein?s conception of philosophy

假日愉快!!


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