Rudolf Carnap and the Positivist Turn

15 Sep

Like the empiricists, the positivists are another group that discredit metaphysics.  I like the positivist take on why metaphysics is ‘stupid’  only because they have a structural buildup of what is accepted. Rudolf Carnap was one positivist among them all, and one among the Vienna Circle. Carnap created the verification conditions of epistemology that I discussed in my writing about Kant’s noumena, and am about to discuss again. Those verification conditions are what all the positivists use for their acceptance of philosphy, and for their structural upbuilding  of intuitions.

Lets go over again the verification conditions by Carnap and upheld by all positivists. Something was verified if it passed the below:

Justification Conditions =  Meaning Conditions  = Truth Conditions


Verification Conditions

If you can justify something by proving somethings existence or truth, it can then be tested for meaning. If the tested means something at all, it can be tested for truth. If the discussed is justified, means something (Carnap and positivists say that metaphysics means nothing), and is true,  it is verified.  These conditions are held for all epistemology and philosphy, and upheld by all positivists.  I agree with these conditions but they should not be held for all philosohpy.

I state again that Kant says that there must be another way to intuit things other than sensibility. The above conditions are done by sensibility alone, and metaphysics needs more than sensibility. That is why there are and have been so many antimetaphysical philosophies.

In Carnap’s essay ‘The Elimination of Metaphysics Through Logical Analysis’ he claims metaphysics to be meaningless ‘in the strictest sense of the word.’  Like I said in my previous writing about Russell’s ‘Logic as Essence of Philosophy’  metaphysics creates words only for us to define them, and we can put ourselves in an infinite regress of referral. Metaphysics creates words to define things. Along with my progressing attempt to advocate metaphysics, I want to prove that the way metaphysics defines things can often make other empirical and positivistic philosophers discredit it. Because of these defining words, metaphysics can be thought of as meaningless. Carnap also says that metaphysical statements are pseudo-statements. ‘Pseudo’ meaning fake. And finally, that these pseudo-statements are not even philosophical and are only a human’s expression of attitude about the world. This is a low blow to metaphysics and metaphysicians need to do something to prevent philosophers reducing a whole branch of philosophy to mere human expression.

Carnap and the positivists only say this because metaphysics does not have the ability to be experienced, tested, or proven. I have a few theories at their bare youthful states that I do not wish to reveal now, and maybe not even on this site. First I want to discuss the positivists (and maybe some empiricists) and other discredits of metaphysics and understand what needs to be done to defend it.

Now having discussed the positivist means of verifying, I want to discuss Carnap’s upbuilding of intuitions. There are sensible intuitions and other intuitions that need verifying as to their nature and truth. Carnap begins the structure by  using a priori and a posteriori. There is a chart that shows all of this but I cannot find it anywhere, so I will just explain it.  The  bottom are 2 things.  First, Synthetic A posteriori. This division brings up its own categories. First from that is the Observation statements because synthetic a posteriori are in fact including of observation statements. These statements include the sense datum being seen, like when Moore stated there to be a red patch in one spot when something appears. Because observation statements occur instantaneously, up from that is the protocol statements which are statements saying that something was observed by a certain persion, at a certain  time, and at a certain place. This ends the synthetic a posteriori division. Protocol statements come into dire question later.

Analytic a priori is another division in this chart which breaks down into implicit definitions and coordinating definitions. The implicit definitions break down into physics and geometry, and in those are the different parts of science that one can choose to change in a certain a priori intuition. In geometry is euclidean, Lobachevskian, and Riemannian geometries that one may choose to apply to their intuition. In coordinating definitions are 2 kinds of thing language statements: either physics language  statments or sense datum language statments. Physics language statements are coordinating definitions that explain the physics of something with language. Sense datum language statements are statements that discuss what one would see with sense data in certain conditions. The analytic a priori intuitions  are can be one intuition that picks a physics, a geometry and picks a thing language statement.

I state all this of Carnap’s because metaphysics have no part in this. Intuitions are either a priori or a posteriori, and they change from there. Metaphysics are not intuitions of either kind. This structure changes as Neurath and Schlick view it. It is my main point however that metaphysics have no part in anything here.

I agree with the positivist chart of intuitions, but not with the reasons for outlining the boundaries of epistemology. I just think metaphysics needs a place somewhere in the picture. I will continue this argument further as I talk about more positivism, and as I begin to talk about what the real metaphysicians think.


One Response to “Rudolf Carnap and the Positivist Turn”

  1. dental hygienist September 21, 2010 at 1:26 pm #

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