Saturday, February 23, 2013

Reading Putnam

Did a little research yesterday afternoon out on Vandy library's sunny cafe porch, preparing to discuss Hilary Putnam in New Jersey in just (yikes!) two weeks. 

I like the way Putnam's latest gathering of papers begins, with an epigraph from Peirce: "Let us not pretend to doubt in philosophy what we do not doubt in our hearts." Then another, from Wittgenstein: "Even the hugest telescope has to have an eye-piece no larger than the human eye."

And I really like what Putnam says in his preface about his own decades-long philosophical quest for clarity: views on some issues continue to change or, as I prefer to think, improve.
This fact will, of course, confirm a certain image of me, the image of the philosopher who "changes his mind." I am not ashamed of that image; I have never wanted to be the sort of philosopher who pretends to have the final answer to all the big questions.
In other words: he has always wanted to be a good pragmatist. Me too. "Good pragmatist" is no oxymoron in my book, either.

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