Quinean Holism

August 15, 2012 — 1 Comment

Quine: “Two Dogmas of Empiricism” From a Logical Point of View, p42

“The totality of our so called knowledge or beliefs, from the most causal matters of geography and history to the profoundest laws of atomic physics or even pure mathematics and logic, is a man made fabric which impinges on experience only along the edges. Or, to change the figure, total science is like a field of force whose boundary conditions are experience. A conflict with experience at the periphery occasions readjustments in the interior of the field. Truth values have to be redistributed over some of our statements. Reevaluation of some statements entails reevaluation of others, because of their logical interconnections – the logical laws being in turn simply further statements of the system, certain further elements of the field. Having reevaluated one statement we must reevaluate some others, which may be statements logically connected with the first or may be the statements of logical connections themselves. But the total field is so undetermined by its boundary conditions, experience, that there is much latitude of choice as to what statements to reevaluate in the light of any single contrary experience. No particular experiences are linked with any particular statements in the interior of the field, except indirectly through considerations of equilibrium affecting the field as a whole.”


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  1. Kornblith – Chapter 1 – an overview of Inductive Inference and Its Natural Ground « A Blog by James Thompson - October 9, 2012

    […] Kornblith portrays this approach as not sufficiently naturalistic enough for Quine, and chooses to side with Quine. He relates the question of our psychological processes to the holistic character of confirmation: […]

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