Friedrich Waismann: From Wittgenstein's Tafelrunde to his writings on Analyticity
Gregory Lavers (Concordia University)

November 2, 2018, 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Department of Philosophy, University of Western Ontario

WIRB 1170
1151 Richmond Street
London
Canada

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The publication of Quine's `Two Dogmas ..." is seen as a turning point in the history of analytic philosophy. It is quite well known that Morton White, although not independently of Quine, published a paper critical of analyticity a year before Quine's paper. Although now less widely discussed, at the time, in addition to White and Quine, Friedrich Waismann was seen as a central critic of analyticity. Waismann, from 1948 to 1953, wrote a series of six articles in Mind on the subject, as part of what is taken to be a book project. The project was never completed, likely due to his discussion being overshadowed by Quine. Knowing that Waismann was strongly influenced by Wittgenstein and was an Oxford philosopher, one might have expectations of what Waismann's view must have been: that it is just roughly what Wittgenstein would say, or that it is just a version of ordinary language philosophy. I will show that these expectations are mistaken. Waismann explicitly rejects an ordinary language understanding of analyticity, and he had a different understanding of the relationship between philosophy and science from Wittgenstein (among other differences). Finally, I will go on to show that despite the series of papers being incomplete, with reference to other of his writings, Waismann's final position can be reconstructed.   

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