Willard van Orman Quine

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Willard Van Orman Quine (25 June 1908 - 25 December 2000) was an influential 20th Century American philosopher and logician.

Sourced

  • Nonbeing must in some sense be, otherwise what is it that there is not? This tangled doctrine might be nicknamed Plato's beard; historically it has proved tough, frequently dulling the edge of Occam's razor.
    • From "On what there is"; in From a Logical Point of View: Nine Logico-Philosophical Essays; Harper and Row, New York (1953).
  • To be is to be the value of a bound variable.
    • From "On what there is"; in From a Logical Point of View: Nine Logico-Philosophical Essays; Harper and Row, New York (1953).
  • Creatures inveterately wrong in their inductions have a pathetic but praise-worthy tendency to die before reproducing their kind.
    • Quine, Willard Van Orman (1969). "Natural Kinds". In Ontological relativity and other essays, p. 126. Columbia UP. (Originally written for a festschrift for Carl Gustav Hempel.)
    • Appears in a context explaining why induction tends to work in practice, despite theoretical objections.
    • The hyphen in "praise-worthy" is ambiguous, since it falls on a line break in the source.
  • Wyman's overpopulated universe is in many ways unlovely. It offends the aesthetic sense of us who have a taste for desert landscapes.
    • July 1988, "On What There Is", in From a Logical Point of View: Nine Logico-Philosophical Essays, p. 4.
    • A humorous comment on the idea "unactualized possible".
  • The word 'definition' has come to have a dangerously reassuring sound, owing no doubt to its frequent occurrence in logical and mathematical writings."
    • July 1988, "Two dogmas of Empiricism", in From a Logical Point of View: Nine Logico-Philosophical Essays, p. 26.
  • Our argument is not flatly circular, but something like it. It has the form, figuratively speaking, of a closed curve in space.
      • July 1988, "Two dogmas of Empiricism", in From a Logical Point of View: Nine Logico-Philosophical Essays, p. 26.
  • A fancifully fancyless medium of unvarnished news.
    • From "Word and Object" section 1.
    • A mocking title for the 'protocol language' imagined by some of the logical positivists.
  • "Yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation" yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation.
    • From "The Ways of Paradox" in "The Ways of Paradox and other Essays"
    • Quine's paradox

Unsourced

  • We cannot stem linguistic change, but we can drag our feet. If each of us were to defy Alexander Pope and be the last to lay the old aside, it might not be a better world, but it would be a lovelier language.

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