All posts by Audrey Yap

Transfinite Number in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus / Review of work on Ramsey

Volume 9.2 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published online, with full open-access.

It features an article by James Connelly entitled, “Transfinite Number in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus”. Here is the abstract:

In his highly perceptive, if underappreciated introduction to Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, Russell identifies a “lacuna” within Wittgenstein’s theory of number, relating specifically to the topic of transfinite number. The goal of this paper is two-fold. The first is to show that Russell’s concerns cannot be dismissed on the grounds that they are external to the Tractarian project, deriving, perhaps, from logicist ambitions harbored by Russell but not shared by Wittgenstein. The extensibility of Wittgenstein’s theory of number to the case of transfinite cardinalities is, I shall argue, a desideratum generated by concerns intrinsic, and internal to Wittgenstein’s logical and semantic framework. Second, I aim to show that Wittgenstein’s theory of number as espoused in the Tractatus is consistent with Russell’s assessment, in that Wittgenstein meant to leave open the possibility that transfinite numbers could be generated within his system, but did not show explicitly how to construct them. To that end, I show how one could construct a transfinite number line using ingredients inherent in Wittgenstein’s system, and in accordance with his more general theories of number and of operations.

The volume also contains a review of Cheryl Misak, Frank Ramsey: A Sheer Excess of Powers (Oxford University Press, 2020), written by Matthew Simpson.

JHAP is a free, open-access, peer-reviewed journal. It is available at https://jhaponline.org/. Submissions welcome!

Rudolf Carnap and David Lewis on Metaphysics: A Question of Historical Ancestry

Volume 9.1 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published online, with full open-access:

https://jhaponline.org/jhap/issue/view/421

It features an article by Fraser MacBride, called ” Rudolf Carnap and David Lewis on Metaphysics: A Question of Historical Ancestry.” Here is the abstract:

In an unpublished speech from 1991, David Lewis told his audience that he counted ‘the metaphysician Carnap (not to be confused with the anti-metaphysician Carnap, who is better known)’ amongst his historical ancestors. Here I provide a novel interpretation of the Aufbau that allows us to make sense of Lewis’s claim. Drawing upon Lewis’s correspondence, I argue it was the Carnap of the Aufbau whom Lewis read as a metaphysician, because Carnap’s appeal to the notion of founded relations in the Aufbau echoes Lewis’s own appeal to the metaphysics of natural properties. I further maintain that Lewis was right to read Carnap this way and that the notion of a founded relation has a legitimate claim to be both logical and metaphysical. I also argue that Carnap’s initial response to Goodman’s puzzle about ‘grue’ relies upon a metaphysics of simple properties which also prefigures Lewis’s own response to Goodman invoking natural properties.

JHAP is a free, open-access, peer-reviewed journal. It is available at https://jhaponline.org/. Submissions welcome!

Coming to America: Carnap, Reichenbach and the Great Intellectual Migration

Volume 8.11 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published online, with full open-access.

It features a two-part article by Sander Verhaegh, called “Coming to America: Carnap, Reichenbach and the Great Intellectual Migration” with Part I on Rudolf Carnap and Part II on Hans Reichenbach. Here are the abstracts:

Part I: Rudolf Carnap.

In the years before the Second World War, Rudolf Carnap and Hans Reichenbach emigrated to the United States, escaping the quickly deteriorating political situation on the continent. Once in the U. S., the two significantly changed the American philosophical climate. This two-part paper reconstructs Carnap’s and Reichenbach’s surprisingly numerous interactions with American academics in the decades before their move in order to explain the impact of their arrival in the late 1930s. Building on archival material of several key players and institutions, I take some first steps toward answering the question why logical empiricism became so successful in the United States after the War. This first part reconstructs Carnap’s development between 1923, when he first visited New York, and 1936, when he was offered a position at the University of Chicago. I describe Carnap’s first substantive contacts with American philosophers as well as the events leading up to his decision to emigrate. In addition, I argue that some of Carnap’s work from the mid-1930s—in particular “Testability and Meaning”—can be better understood if we take into account (1) his attempts to correct the American narrative about logical positivism and (2) his increasingly desperate efforts to find a position in the United States.


Part II: Hans Reichenbach

In the late 1930s, a few years before the start of the Second World War, a small number of European philosophers of science emigrated to the United States, escaping the increasingly perilous situation on the continent. Among the first expatriates were Rudolf Carnap and Hans Reichenbach, arguably the most influential logical empiricists of their time. In this two-part paper, I reconstruct Carnap’s and Reichenbach’s surprisingly numerous interactions with American academics in the decades before their move in order to explain the impact of their arrival in the late 1930s. This second part traces Reichenbach’s development and focuses on his frequent interactions with American academics throughout the 1930s. I show that Reichenbach was quite ignorant about developments in Anglophone philosophy in the first stages of his career but became increasingly focused on the United States from the late 1920s onwards. I reconstruct Reichenbach’s efforts to find a job across the Atlantic and show that some of his English publications—most notably Experience and Prediction—were attempts to change the American narrative about logical empiricism. Whereas U. S. philosophers identified scientific philosophy with the views of the Vienna Circle, Reichenbach aimed to market his probabilistic philosophy of science as a subtler alternative.

JHAP is a free, open-access, peer-reviewed journal. It is available at https://jhaponline.org/. Submissions welcome!

Resolute Readings of Wittgenstein and Nonsense

Volume 8.10 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published online, with full open-access.

It features an article by Joseph Ulatowski entitled, “Resolute Readings of Wittgenstein and Nonsense”. Here is the abstract:

The aim of this paper is to show that a corollary of resolute readings of Wittgenstein’s conception of nonsense cannot be sustained. First, I describe the corollary. Next, I point out the relevance to it of Wittgenstein’s discussion of family resemblance concepts. Then, I survey some typical uses of nonsense to see what they bring to an ordinary language treatment of the word “nonsense” and its relatives. I will subsequently consider the objection, on behalf of a resolute reading, that “nonsense” is a term of philosophical criticism. Finally, I conclude that resolute readings have not sufficiently accounted for how nonsense behaves in our language; they have failed to heed Wittgenstein’s warning: “don’t think, but look!”

JHAP is a free, open-access, peer-reviewed journal. It is available at https://jhaponline.org/. Submissions welcome!

The Vienna Circle’s Reception of Nietzsche / Review of work on Quine

Volume 8.9 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published online, with full open-access.

It features an article by Andreas Vrahimis entitled, “The Vienna Circle’s Reception of Nietzsche”. Here is the abstract:

Friedrich Nietzsche was among the figures from the history of nineteenth-century philosophy that, perhaps surprisingly, some of the Vienna Circle’s members had presented as one of their predecessors. While, primarily for political reasons, most Anglophone figures in the history of analytic philosophy had taken a dim view of Nietzsche, the Vienna Circle’s leader Moritz Schlick admired and praised Nietzsche, rejecting what he saw as a misinterpretation of Nietzsche as a militarist or proto-fascist. Schlick, Frank, Neurath, and Carnap were in different ways committed to the view that Nietzsche made a significant contribution to the overcoming of metaphysics. Some of these philosophers praised the intimate connection Nietzsche drew between his philosophical outlook and empirical studies in psychology and physiology. In his 1912 lectures on Nietzsche, Schlick maintained that Nietzsche overcame an initial Schopenhauerian metaphysical-artistic phase in his thinking, and subsequently remained a positivist until his last writings. Frank and Neurath made the weaker claim that Nietzsche contributed to the development of a positivistic or scientific conception of the world. Schlick and Frank took a further step in seeing the mature Nietzsche as an Enlightenment thinker.

The volume also contains a review of Sean Morris, Quine, New Foundations, and the Philosophy of Set Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), written by Henri Wagner.

JHAP is a free, open-access, peer-reviewed journal. It is available at https://jhaponline.org/. Submissions welcome!