Quintessence: Basic Readings from the Philosophy of W. V. Quine / Edition 1

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Through the first half of the twentieth century, analytic philosophy was dominated by Russell, Wittgenstein, and Carnap. Influenced by Russell and especially by Carnap, another towering figure, Willard Van Orman Quine (1908–2000) emerged as the most important proponent of analytic philosophy during the second half of the century. Yet with twenty-three books and countless articles to his credit—including, most famously, Word and Object and "Two Dogmas of Empiricism"—Quine remained a philosopher's philosopher, largely unknown to the general public.

Quintessence for the first time collects Quine's classic essays (such as "Two Dogmas" and "On What There Is") in one volume—and thus offers readers a much-needed introduction to his general philosophy. Divided into six parts, the thirty-five selections take up analyticity and reductionism; the indeterminacy of translation of theoretical sentences and the inscrutability of reference; ontology; naturalized epistemology; philosophy of mind; and extensionalism. Representative of Quine at his best, these readings are fundamental not only to an appreciation of the philosopher and his work, but also to an understanding of the philosophical tradition that he so materially advanced.

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Editorial Reviews

APA Newsletter on Teaching Philosophy

This new collection of published essays by Willard van Orman Quine (1908-2000) is presented by its editor, Roger F. Gibson (following a suggestion of Nelson Goodman's) as a "meta-anthology" or "anthology of anthologies," that is to say, an anthology of previously anthologized material. It contains twenty-five original essays by Quine that were published, in various venues, over a span of over sixty years in Quine's career...Quine's sharpness and lucidity, the depth of his confrontation with the empiricist tradition, as well as the strength of his alternative (physicalist and extensionalist) form of empiricism, come across very clearly...A heart-warming feature of this collection (one which is likely to help the beginner) is the coupling of some of the classical essays of Quine with all their polemical sharpness, to retrospective essays in which a much older (and kinder) Quine reflects on his past accomplishments, sometimes modifying the sharp edges of his polemical arguments, sometimes taking back excessive formulations, and often acknowledging the strength of his one-time opponents' views or offering words of self-criticism...Although this collections contains materials that are already well anthologized and collected, its distinctiveness and value lies in its bringing together two distinct voices of Quine's. In so doing it enriches our perspective on one of the most impressive philosophical oeuvres of the twentieth century.
— Isaac Nevo

Library Journal
Gibson (philosophy, Washington Univ., St. Louis) here aims to produce a book that "would be useful to the Quine specialist and yet accessible to the Quine novice," but unfortunately the nature of the material here defeats his purpose. Quine (1908-2000) is simply too much of a philosopher's philosopher for novices to find accessible. Specialists, on the other hand, will be grateful for this well-modulated selection of Quine's most important essays and articles, which reflects his thinking up to the end of his life. Included here are both classic and expository essays-for example, the seminal "Two Dogmas of Empiricism" (1951) and "Two Dogmas in Retrospect" (1991). In addition, specialists will find Quine's thinking on analyticity, synonymy, reference and translation, ontological relativity, holism, naturalism, behaviorism, extensionalism, and more, all in a convenient single volume. While the publication history of each essay is listed in the back, a name/subject index would have been more useful. For academic philosophy collections.-Leon H. Brody, U.S. Office of Personnel Management Lib., Washington, DC Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674010482
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 3/31/2004
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 432

Meet the Author

W. V. Quine was Edgar Pierce Professor of Philosophy, Harvard University. He wrote twenty-one books, thirteen of them published by Harvard University Press.

Roger F. Gibson, Jr., is Professor of Philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis. He is the editor of The Cambridge Companion to Quine and coeditor of Perspectives on Quine.

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Table of Contents

Part I. Analyticity and Reductionism

1. Truth by Convention

2. Two Dogmas of Empiricism

3. Two Dogmas in Retrospect

4. Carnap and Logical Truth

Part II. Indeterminacy and Inscrutability

5. Speaking of Objects

6. Reference

7. Translation and Meaning

8. Progress on Two Fronts

Part III. Ontology

9. On What There Is

10. The Scope and Language of Science

11. On Simple Theories of a Complex World

12. Ontic Decision

13. Things and Their Place in Theories

14. On Carnap's Views on Ontology

Part IV. Epistemology and Philosophy of Mind

15. Epistemology Naturalized

16. Naturalism; or, Living within One's Means

17. The Nature of Natural Knowledge

18. Five Milestones of Empiricism

19. On Mental Entities

20. Mind and Verbal Dispositions

Part V. Extensionalism

21. Confessions of a Confirmed Extensionalist

22. Quantifiers and Propositional Attitudes

23. Intensions Revisited

24. Reference and Modality

25. Three Grades of Modal Involvement



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