Thursday, May 20, 2010

Grice Club on anglo/analytical philosophy as a reaction to Being and Time.
The connection via Oxford is an interesting one. While Ryle had welcomed Heidegger in Mind of 1929, he had the 'idea' (one of THOSE ideas) of sending his tutee, Freddie Ayer, to Vienna -- 'to see what was going on', or something. Ayer returned with a fresh copy of Carnap's criticism of Heidegger, which Ayer published in Mind in the 1930s. And Oxford philosophy would never be the same!
I've read a few passages of Carnap's critique of metaphysics, where he takes Heidegger's ontology to represent obscure metaphysics.

Carnap's discussion of Heidegger gets fairly technical (or boring , depending on yr perspective), but in a sense Carnap--whatever one thinks of his politics or character, etc-- does correctly note that Heidegger hypostasizes Nothing (or nothingness): when MH utters "the Nothing itself Nothings", Carnaps says it's meaningless . I don't think it's meaningless as gibberish is meaningless, but it's rather difficult to understand, except as a grand dialectical metaphor (ie Nothing opposed to Being). Negation's usually read as a logical operator (even in ordinary language)--not as a entity itself. And recall Kant's statement that "existence is not a predicate". Which is to say, it's not obvious that Carnap lost at least in regard to negation, even if one objects to his positivist reduction in principle (tho one should keep in mind Carnap was not quite a Quinean naturalist, but generally refused to play the "ism" game--ie rationalism, vs empiricism, etc. ).

--really I'm tempted to say it was a standoff: the early Heidegger was fond of grand existential statements about Being, and much of his schema seems more poetic than rational (as Nietzsche was)--yet the concern with death, angst, forlornness, authenticity etc . was not simply nonsense.

Carnap was correct however that many metaphysical statements could not be verified and were more akin to poetic expressions, but that didn't make them meaningless. Humans can't see Justice or democracy or world history, but do talk about them-- strict verificationalism would render most discussion impossible (and Shakespeare impossible for that matter). Obviously it's a rather daunting topic (and one that hasn't really been dealt with), but I on the whole I find the continental people quite more defensive and inflexible (and has to do with a traditional anti-anglo/american bias on the part of germans, probably--Hegel himself detested brit. empiricists taken as a whole...Marx himself at times approved of thinkers such as Hobbes and Locke).
The problem with the I-don't-get-it-so-it-must-be-nonsense argument is that is only sustainable if everyone agrees with you. If a bunch of people understand something, then it's not nonsense. If Carnap doesn't get it, that's an issue with Carnap not Heidegger.
That may be the typical naive empiricist response, but not Carnap's response, which is quite technical, having to do with negation.

Carnap had a neo-Kantian background as did Hei. It's a language-oriented critique--not merely a dismissal. What does Hei. mean by "nothing" in those instances? As Carnap notes, he is making an existence claim of a sort; Heidegger often makes arguments from introspection. Even from a Kantian perspective, that is problematic.

We see a negation operator; we don't see negation, or nothingness (a problem for Hegel as well, really). Now, I'm not claiming all metaphysics is BS (as say Ayers did)--but metaphysical statements are not just automatically true because a famous philosopher said it.

Personally, I think the problems started when Hegelians misread Kant's 3rd Antinomy freedom/Nature as Being/Non-being
The problem is that there are two kinds of negation. The negation in the sense of a totally empty set or negation as simply not having a certain property - in Heidegger's case the question of a thing. Carnap never really engages with that basic logical issue. And I think Carnap doesn't engage with it precisely because he has some unquestioned metaphysical assumptions about existence.
About Kant, I'm not going to comment. I'm reviewing the latest translation, Logic: The Question of Truth (1926), and a third of it is an early version of what would be the Kant book (1929). I realize he had to go there because he was surrounded by neo-Kantians at Marburg, but my eyes glaze over.

I think the difference with Carnap is that Carnap is saying that one shouldn't make assertions about the properties of something that doesn't exist, and Heidegger realizes that, which is why he simply says that nothing nothings, rather than ascribing properties to what is not a thing.

I completely agree that "statements are not just automatically true because a famous philosopher said it", but they are phenomenologically true when they are meaningful. Carnap was standing up for with a more restricted definition of truth, the box Heidegger was breaking out of.
{Carnap} has some unquestioned metaphysical assumptions about existence.

Not sure if they are unquestioned, but perhaps assumptions--mainly regarding analytical and synthetic truths (also from Kant, but implicit in Hume, and others) .

Is "Nothing itself nothings" analytical?? I don't think so--at least the sentence suggests an existence claim (not just a null set). And if not analytical, then ...synthetic, or empirical in a broad sense. Is he speaking of thoughts, concepts, or something apparent, observable? Not real clear.

The phenomenologist probably says his discussion precedes logical analysis (includng anal./syn. truths)--but that itself requires some explanation, if not proof.
As does the Heideggerian schema as a whole: to say Dasein exists hardly sounds different than claiming a Deity exists. Being opposed to positivist reductionism (yet Carnap actually allowed for say "lifeworld" philosophy ala Nietzsche) need not mean accepting Heidegger (in fact to claim that's "either/or" itself-- old thinking).
I think Heidegger gives a pretty good argument for the phenomenology of nothing. Indeed a big chunk of Being and Time is leading one through a phenomenological investigation of all this.

As was said, once you have the phenomenology that's all you need since phenomenology is about the phenomena and not correlation.
so, you then suggest a mentalistic analysis which is neither analytic or synthetic--reflectionism, really--not phenomenalism in the sense of observation or apparent (as it is used at times).

Even Peirce does not proceed thusly (nor does Kant). Firstness is quality "sui generis", adjectivals, or qualia in modern terms. Redness, sour, hot. Now, I agree with Peirce that there is an irreducible mental element to quality; in a sense Mind must exist for the perception of quality, at least for humans (e.g. "the conditions of experience," in Kantian terms)--one might even call it a priori (tho' that's another problem). But Heidegger's phenomenology quite out-does Peirce's Firstness (or Kant's CoE) in terms of mystery. Redness we can agree on, and agree to the use of the word. Nothingness is another matter (apart from the obvious instance of a null set--which would be far too trivial a reading for Heideggerians)

additionally I think you are missing Carnap's point re language (and to be honest, he seems a bit pedantic compared to enigmatic guru Heidegger). A word or statement refers to something, even if not a perfect or even adequate correlation. In the case of Hei's jargon in SZ (nothing itself nothings) the references are often ambiguous or open to various interpretations. Even in Cartesian terms not clear and distinct.
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