Pragmatism in W.V.O. Quine's Philosophy
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In various accounts of contemporary and recent philosophy W.V.O. Quine is presented as a towering figure which to a large extent shaped the philosophical landscape of the second half of the twentieth century, at least as far as the Anglo-American philosophy goes. There are, however, two different, and to some extent incompatible, ways of construing his thought in the historical perspective. The prevailing view is that although he was highly critical of logical positivism, and even brought this powerful philosophical movement to an end, he should be seen as a pupil and follower of Rudolf Carnap. Nevertheless taking into account his Harvard milieu, and the concluding paragraph of his famous 'Two Dogmas of Empiricism', where Quine declared that by washing out the boundary between the analytic and the synthetic he put forward a more thorough pragmatism, he is quite often portrayed as a characteristically pragmatist thinker. In his later writings Quine distanced himself from the latter construal, insisting that it is not clear to him what it takes to be a pragmatist. He also admitted that his knowledge of classical pragmatism was limited: 'I must say that I have not read widely in it. Some of it came through in a modified form from C. I. Lewis, who taught me during one of my two years of graduate study'. The auyhor thinks that this passing remark is a useful historical hint that can shed a new light on Quine's pragmatism by construing it almost exclusively in the context of Lewis' philosophy, and its distinctively pragmatic features.
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