Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I'm reading a nice review of Hylton's Quine book on NDPR, and one line struck me. The review says, "Hylton's pivotal interpretative thesis is that Quine -- contrary to widespread opinions -- is basically a systematic philosopher." I found this somewhat surprising since it seems quite hard, to me, to view Quine as a non-systematic philosopher. This is elaborated in the review: "That means, according to Hylton, that his main purpose is constructive rather than negative." I don't think this ameliorates matters. I'm still surprised. Quine has his destructive/negative side, sure, but it is supplemented with an integrated, systematic (for lack of a better adjective) view of the world. One could see Quine as entirely negative if one stopped reading him at "Two Dogmas" but a glance through Word and Object should give hints of the systematic side. I am, consequently, surprised by the opening of the review. Who thought Quine was entirely negative and why?

There is a similarly surprising line, albeit to a lesser degree, in a review written by Fodor of a collection of Davidson's essays. I think it was in the London Review of Books. Fodor says something along the lines of: it turns out that Davidson's thought is fairly unified after all. Maybe it was harder to piece together going forward, when Davidson's work was scattered about a bunch of journals.

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