Tag Archives: Carnap

The self is both made and explored with words

“The self is both made and explored with words; and the best for both are the words spoken in the dialogue of friendship.”
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self – The Making of the Modern Identity, Harvard University Press, 1989, p. 183.

In reading these pages, I was reminded by the abomination that is the word “paradigm”. Although I am largely sympathetic to the project of Charles Taylor in tracing the origins of self and identity, there is a certain something about it which annoys me. Thinking about it his pinpointing of pivotal moments in philosophy is the cause of this slight discomfort. In his own words I think his is the natural way of explaining, as against the more convoluted way which is less prone to be accepted in this scientistic bottom-up world. Sure, this way serves the purpose of bringing home the point that the way we see things naturalistically is neither eternal nor inescapable. Still it also exposes us to the risk of marking “paradigm shifts” showing side by side clear before’s and after’s and simultaneously expressing a strong valuation that such before’s are inferior and the corresponding after’s are superior. Thinking in “paradigm shifts” has led to the abominable results that we see all around us, marking in’s and out’s in the most uncharitable of ways.

The quote stresses, I think, not the discrete but the continuous; not the sudden but the emerging; not revolution but evolution. It connects the continuous evolution of language with its essence in friendship. The quote gets it all right. From that very first time that people pointed to the same thing in uttering or gesturing (hence thinking) the word “that”, the mechanism of development is a mechanism of co-operation (see P. Grice), a mechanism presupposing being charitable to understanding the other (D. Davidson) and best seen in one of Quine’s favorite metaphors of rebuilding the ship as we are sailing it:

“We are like sailors who on the open sea must reconstruct their ship but are never able to start afresh from the bottom. Where a beam is taken away a new one must at once be put there, and for this the rest of the ship is used as support. In this way, by using the old beams and driftwood the ship can be shaped entirely anew, but only by gradual reconstruction.”
Otto Neurath, from Wikipedia. Continue reading

Das Gebiet des Fremdpsychischen

Das so konstituierte Psychische des Anderen wird als Klasse der ‘psychischen Zustände des Anderen’ analog ‘meiner Seele’ ‘die Seele des Anderen’ genannt. Das allgemeine Gebiet des ‘Fremdpsychischen’ umfasst des Psychische aller der anderen Menschen die (d.h. deren Leiber) als physische Dinge in der konstituierten physikalischen Welt vorkommen.
Aus der angegebenen Art der Konstitution des Fremdpsychischen folgt: es gibt kein Fremdpsychisches ohne Leib. (..)”,
R. Carnap, Der logische Aufbau der Welt, p. 187, Meiner Philosophische Bibliothek, 1998.

[Amateuristic English translation: “The so constituted psychical (mental) of the others being  the class of ‘psychical (or mental) states of the other’ is called, in analogy with ‘my soul’, ‘the soul of the other’. The general field of the other-mental (or other-mindly or other-psychical) includes the psychical (or mental &c) of all other humans, who (i.e. whose bodies) appear as physical things in the constituted physical world.
From the indicated way in which the other-mindly is constituted, it follows that there is no other mind without a corresponding body.”

[Re-posted from The Old Site, original dd. 28-11-2009. A long one but one that gives the most concrete connection to what I think could be my philosophy, see Eigenpsychisches & Fremdpsychisches.]

I’m struggling with the demons of the mystical. What better weapon to take to such a fight than ‘Der logische Aufbau’? If I’m defeated, at least I will not be enshrined, & my bones scattered over the globe abused by the rich and powerful to instill just enough hope in the poor and powerless for them not to question their status quo, but not so much hope that they would resist being mobilized by the ruling classes, to fight the ruling class fights under the guise of fighting for  this or that demon of the mystical (which are always readily available when the people in power need them).

But enough of this left wing propaganda. On topic. Quick!

The afterlife. Continue reading

Eigenpsychisches und Fremdpsychisches

“Die eigenpsychischen Gegenstände sind erkenntnismässig primär in bezug auf die  die physischen Gegenstände, die fremdpsychischen dagegen sekundär. Wir werden deshalb die physischen Gegenstände aus den eigenpsychischen und die fremdpsychischen aus den physischen konstituieren.” R. Carnap, Der logische Aufbau der Welt, Felix Meiner Verlag Hamburg (1998), p. 79.

[Re-posted from The Old Site, orignal dated 11-06-2008. This is a pivotal thought. Then again, I have no idea at all if the quought does justice to the thought. What I do know is that it would help me if you would say something to me, I’m in a state where the Eigenpsychisches needs a reality check by some Fremdpsychisches.]

[amateuristic English translation: “Physical objects are cognitively based on first person psychology, other person psychology is however cognitively based on physical objects. Therefore, we will constitute physical objects out of first person psychology and the other person psychology out of physical objects.” – this really was one of the hardest translations to come up with,  I do apologize if this is as opaque as the original is clear.]

I am on thin ice here: Carnap isn’t very popular at the moment. But, he tried to think things true and I for one applaud him for having tried to do just that. Maybe later I could risk jumping into the deep, now I merely want to wonder about the first person attitude (and then hurry back to safer ground).

Continue reading