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Reductionism of Logical Positivism and Quine’s Rejection

16 Nov

The two dogmas of empiricism are rooted in the verification theory of meaning and meaning itself. Analyticity I have previously discussed, but here I want to discuss the other dogma of reductionism. Quine ultimately rejects meaning and rejects both dogmas. Reductionism, specifically radical reductionism, is the belief that “every meaningful statement is held to be translatable into a statement (true or false) about immediate experience” (Quine). Reductionism is generally the belief that statements of one kind are translatable into statements of other kinds. It is often thought in reductionism that one translation is confirmed or accepted as true (or later as the best). Quine rejects this dogma again by rejecting meaning. The verification theory of meaning of logical positivism is rejected because of the rejection of meaning. If the verification theory of meaning is rejected reductionism is rejected because one translation cannot be reduced down. Meaningful statements being able to be reduced down into statements about immediate experience cannot really be true because of the lack of ability to understand meaning.  Reductionism is simply is the translation between linguistic frameworks possibly from meaningful statement to statements about immediate experience. Reductionism carries the need to confirm a translation by verification of meaning. Quine rejects this: “My present suggestion is that it is nonsense, and the root of much nonsense, to speak of a linguistic component and a factual component  in the truth of any individual statement” (Quine). To ultimately simplify, reductionism is rejected by Quine because of his rejection of meaning (just like analyticity is rejected).

The main thing I want to do here is keep talking about Quine’s discussion of meaning and reductionism, and talk about philosophers partaking in reductionism in the early to mid 20th century. I think I am understanding reductionism and Quine’s rejection, but if I miss something please let me know.

Above is Bertrand Russell. In 1914 he published Our Knowledge of the External World which had Hard and Soft Data in it. Hard and Soft Data presented logic and sense data as the two hardest hard data as he presented soft and hard data based on logically and psychologically derivative and primitive. In this essay he presented sense data (as Moore and Royce did before him). While having his logic and sense data, he claimed that a process of reconstruction would be taking place from here on out. This reconstruction was the reconstruction of the language of physical objects into language of sense data. Physical objects are complicated when seen and to philosophically and epistemologically understand physical objects better, this reconstruction was presented by Russell. This is a form of reductionism because physical objects language has meaning, while sense datum language is based on immediate experience. I have exemplified these languages before, but physical object language would be exemplified by saying “I am seeing a red marker before me” and sense datum language would be exemplified by saying ” I see an elongated cylindrical red patch, with some black patches inside.”  This is a very early form of this reductionism Quine rejects.

Another philosopher and scientist taking up a reductionism is, above, Rudolf Carnap. In Der Logische Aufbau der Welt , Elimination of Metaphysics through Logical Analysis, and Empiricism Semantics and Ontology, Carnap’s quest for reductionism while granting the analytic is shown.  In the Aufbau and even the Elimination of Metaphysics Carnap has a desire to uphold a stricter set of linguistic frameworks where the correct framework is searched for. Looking for a correct framework is not upheld in his 1950 Empiricism Semantics and Ontology. The previous linguistic frameworks of the 1928 Aufbau are presented in the verification conditions including meaning. This is the build up from observation statements and protocol statements to thing language and physics language while accepting a geometry and a physics. Carnap’s reductionism is accepted in mainstream logical positivism at the time.  From that point Otto Neurath comes along and revises the protocol statements of Carnap’s verification conditions and the buildup of confirmation. Moritz Schlick later accepts his own reductionism.

In Empiricism Semantics and Ontology, logical positivism has sort of gone down from its peak, while Carnap and A.J. Ayer are both still trying to keep old positivist techniques. In this essay Carnap really softens his die hard reductionism, yet he still maintains a reductionism.  He states that a plethora of linguistic frameworks are to be accepted while not accepting a metaphysical doctrine at the same time. He maintains that a tolerance of linguistic frameworks is to be had while being cautious and evaluative of the frameworks presented. Unlike in the Elimination of Metaphysics and the Aufbau, in Empiricism Semantics and Ontology Carnap states that the framework that works best is the one to be accepted instead of the framework that is correct. This is still a ‘subtle’ reductionism.

Above is Moritz Schlick. He was the leader of the Vienna Circle and an influence in logical positivism. Taking into understanding Carnap (Empiricism Semantics and Ontology had not happened yet note) and Neurath and their influences on the verification theory of meaning, he had his own idea of it in his Foundation of Knowledge. He advocated a similar reductionism to Carnap and Neurath by keeping observation statements at the bottom of the whole thing, which become protocol statements (partly statements about sense data), which can be translated into thing language statements, physics language statements, and theoretical language statements. That statement can have a prediction made from it, and may or may not be confirmed. All of this grounded to the side in experience. This shows the reductionism because of how all of it is able to be reduced to statements about immediate experience.


A.J. Ayer is another philosopher advocating reductionism specifically because he advocates ‘cash value’ translations between sense datum language and physical object language. He does so in Phenomenalism and his expanded theory of perception.

I did not mention Neurath because all he spoke to was Carnap’s supposedly wrong understanding of the protocol statements.

Statements being able to be reduced down, or translated between each other is implying that most statements have meaning. This is what Quine uses to reject reductionism. The verification of meaning is involved here because it is implied that most statements have meaning and can be verified that way. After contemplating meaning more, I am thinking that we all grant meaning quickly, but I really do not think there is meaning. These languages each have their own set of rules of logic because rules of logic can be proven wrong and verified from one statement to the next. Because of this variation of logical rules I think that meaning is granted, yet no real justification for it is presented.

I think I have come to a general opinion about Quine’s rejection of the two dogmas.

I think I understood everything, and talked about everything correctly, but if I did not please tell me so I do not look foolish. Thanks again for the support.

Rudolf Carnap’s Teavy and Toovy

23 Sep

I had a test today in my epistemology class, and studying for it, I studied deeply in the teavy/toovy part of Carnap’s argument from the elimination of metaphysics. Not appearing on the test, the concept remained in my mind. This use of teavy and toovy by Carnap is a way he exemplifies that metaphysics creates pseudo-statements and calls them truthful and consistent. Carnap only says so because a statement must be truthful only if it means something and has criterion of application.  In my movement to defend metaphysics, I felt this a necessary logical positivist truth to address if I want to further understand what it is I defend.

By using teavy and toovy, Carnap aims to show that we cannot just take a word and define it by whatever we want. He exemplifies this with teavy and toovy. If a word is being defined, it is subject to verification conditions, logical analysis, and criterion of application.

In the case of teavy, Carnap states that if things can be stated to be teavy and not teavy. When inquiring upon the criterion of application of teavy, and the creator of teavy comes up with the fact that no things are empirically teavy. Carnap then states that if the criterion of application cannot be identified of a word, the use of the word is not legitimate. This is empty verbiage because the meaning of things teavy and not teavy is not every revealed and is too secretive. Emotion and feeling cannot be tied to a word with empty verbiage either because the word’s possible definition does not call for these relations. Teavy is something that has no criterion of application, no verification, and no checking logical analysis.

Toovy introduces another way that a word can be defined ambiguously with no criterion of application. If the creators of the word toovy define it as, by Carnap, quadrangular, but say they, by interpretation, intended something else by the definition quadrangular, there is no criterion for application for this, and it cannot be done. If the word has a definition yet, the definers state it is directed by interpretation to another meaning, and no criterion of application, verification, or logical analysis confirm this, it is just as empty in verbiage as teavy is. Even if there is a criterion of application for the interpreted sub-meaning of toovy’s definition of quadrangular, the initial definition of toovy makes a fixed meaning for it, and creates little room for verification of a sub-meaning that is to be interpreted from the fixed meaning.  Therefore the following is denoted from examples of teavy and toovy:

Definition of Words Proven not to be pseudo-statements

1) Criterion of application – the word must have the ability to be exemplified by application to real things in a versatile fashion

2) Verification Conditions – As I stated in my previous writing on Carnap, the logical positivist movement not only came with a justification of the system of science, but it came with a set of verification conditions to verify the truth and meaning of certain conditions:

Justification = Meaning =Truth

all = Verification

3) Logical analysis – does what is in question apply consistently to logic, and if so, how.

If a word or statement qualifies for one or more of the above, it can be questioned further as to its truth and consistency.

So would teavy and toovy qualify pass the non pseudo-statement conditions? No, they would not, but this does not justify Carnap’s rejection of all metaphysics just because his exemplification of teavy and toovy are not consistent with it. It is a philosophy of mine that any philosophy can exemplify and conventionally choose any science, definition, and observation (even protocol sentence) he wants to justly work towards his advantage and what he aims to prove. I think that Carnap exemplified teavy and toovy to show what most of metaphysics did and passed as truth, but this is a slight falsity in his exemplification.  Teavy and toovy do not pass any of the above tests to prove out of pseudo-statements, but it is my opinion that Carnap structuralized his theory against metaphysics with teavy and toovy to prove his point. Teavy and toovy are not what most metaphysics manifest its theories to be. Noumena ( Kant’s term, possibly could be exemplified as one of metaphysics pseudo-statements)  has justification, meaning, and verification, which with further discussion and study of Kant’s philosophy, could be proved true with even more proof of metaphysical theories. Noumena also has logical consistency, and does not fail there. The only thing noumena does not have in any form is the criterion of application. Carnap claims this criterion to be necessary to remove it from metaphysical meaningless pseudo-statements, but I believe this to be not as true as he says it to be.  Noumena almost passes truth by verification conditions, and with further philosophizing it could in the future by metaphysicians, and I think this could be done without prior proof of a criterion of application for it. I think  that a criterion of application is something that is to be stated after its truth has been proven, and its tenets have been established in justified metaphysics.

Not only do I say above that many metaphysical sentences and words can be removed from pseudo-statement status, but I say that Carnap excessively used the technique towards ones arguments that excessively works towards proof of his point. I do not say that the Sophist rhetoric tactics that Protagoras and Gorgias used are bad to use, but I say that Carnap did so too excessively by exemplification of teavy and toovy.  Teavy, explained as acertained with little empirical status, is something that Carnap says that a metaphysician would state to exist even if it does not even manifest itself. Teavy, in Carnap’s explanation, never even manifests itself as a property or being of the world, because in Carnap’s example, it never gets a chance to. Toovy only is another exaggeration of things metaphysics does and is the way that Carnap says that metaphysics exaggerates its fixed definitions. I will not argue that some metaphysics does not address some apparently fixed definitions, but I will say that with teavy and toovy, Carnap paints metaphysics as something it really is not.  Carnap’s teavy and toovy exaggerates metaphysics way way beyond its true status. If Carnap wanted to prove that his examples of teavy and toovy accurately exemplify all metaphysics, he should have used continuously implemented metaphysical statements or sentences and proven his point out from that.

Noumena is not characteristic with teavy. Noumena has justification, meaning, and some truth (some of which is yet to be proven), along with consistency with all logic. Teavy is a mere exaggeration.

By my argument just stated, I reject Carnap’s rejection of all metaphysics. Yes, some metaphysics are pseudo statements that must be shot down, but rejecting all of it by exaggerative examples is a false philosophical achievement. I state this as another step towards my whole defense of metaphysics ( not that others have not done so), and hope that other things can build off of this.

Thanks for the support.

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.