Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Thrift of Quine

a Quine-ku1

the dog of logic
chases the cat of truth up
the tree of grammar

an excerpt from "Two Dogmas of Empiricism"2

As an empiricist I continue to think of the conceptual scheme of

science as
a tool, ultimately, for predicting
future experience in the light of
past experience.

Physical objects are conceptually imported into the situation as

convenient intermediaries
                   not by definition in terms of
experience, but simply as
irreducible posits comparable, epistemologically, to
the gods of Homer.

Let me interject that for my part I do, qua lay physicist, believe in

physical objects and not in
Homer's gods; and I consider it a
scientific error to believe otherwise. But in point of
epistemological footing
the physical objects and
the gods differ only in degree and not in kind. Both sorts of
entities enter our conception only as
cultural posits. The
myth of physical objects is
                   epistemologically superior to
most in that it has proved more efficacious than
other myths as a device for working
a manageable structure into
the flux of experience.

posted to Read Write Poem: thrift store

1 Quine's famous quote: "Logic chases truth up the tree of grammar" is in Philosophy of Logic []
2 []

Read some more Quine (including the very first poem in this blog)

And from Willard Van Orman Quine link archive:

Poem on "Quine"

There's a piece of text
he loves; he cherishes it,
runs thought's thumb
over its folds. It slots
into itself, or his mind
does, expending itself
helically downward, following
the natural flow of the
words. Deeper now into
the depths he goes,
pondering its every line,
tracing its hidden referents
with invisible fingertips.
Every whorl of his prints
silently points to this poem
which in part reads,
"His mind nimbly traverses
the tumbling of infinity",
and he realizes what they
meant when they said
that every poem
was written for him.

[ cold link "" ]