Willard Van Orman Quine
Willard Van Orman Quine was an American philosopher and logician in the analytic tradition, recognized as "one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century." From 1930 until his death 70 years Quine was continually affiliated with Harvard University in one way or another, first as a student as a professor of philosophy and a teacher of logic and set theory, as a professor emeritus who published or revised several books in retirement. He filled the Edgar Pierce Chair of Philosophy at Harvard from 1956 to 1978. A 2009 poll conducted among analytic philosophers named Quine as the fifth most important philosopher of the past two centuries, he won the first Schock Prize in Logic and Philosophy in 1993 for "his systematical and penetrating discussions of how learning of language and communication are based on available evidence and of the consequences of this for theories on knowledge and linguistic meaning." In 1996 he was awarded the Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy for his "outstanding contributions to the progress of philosophy in the 20th century by proposing numerous theories based on keen insights in logic, philosophy of science and philosophy of language."Quine falls squarely into the analytic philosophy tradition while being the main proponent of the view that philosophy is not conceptual analysis but the abstract branch of the empirical sciences.
His major writings include Two Dogmas of Empiricism, which attacked the distinction between analytic and synthetic propositions and advocated a form of semantic holism, Word and Object, which further developed these positions and introduced Quine's famous indeterminacy of translation thesis, advocating a behaviorist theory of meaning. He developed an influential naturalized epistemology that tried to provide "an improved scientific explanation of how we have developed elaborate scientific theories on the basis of meager sensory input." He is important in philosophy of science for his "systematic attempt to understand science from within the resources of science itself" and for his conception of philosophy as continuous with science. This led to his famous quip that "philosophy of science is philosophy enough." In philosophy of mathematics, he and his Harvard colleague Hilary Putnam developed the "Quine–Putnam indispensability thesis," an argument for the reality of mathematical entities. According to his autobiography, The Time of My Life, Quine grew up in Akron, where he lived with his parents and older brother Robert Cloyd.
His father, Cloyd Robert, was a manufacturing entrepreneur and his mother, Harriett E. was a schoolteacher and a housewife. He received his B. A. in mathematics from Oberlin College in 1930, his Ph. D. in philosophy from Harvard University in 1932. His thesis supervisor was Alfred North Whitehead, he was appointed a Harvard Junior Fellow, which excused him from having to teach for four years. During the academic year 1932–33, he travelled in Europe thanks to a Sheldon fellowship, meeting Polish logicians and members of the Vienna Circle, as well as the logical positivist A. J. Ayer, it was Quine who arranged for Tarski to be invited to the September 1939 Unity of Science Congress in Cambridge, for which Tarski sailed on the last ship to leave Danzig before the Third Reich invaded Poland. Tarski survived the war and worked another 44 years in the US. During World War II, Quine lectured on logic in Brazil, in Portuguese, served in the United States Navy in a military intelligence role, deciphering messages from German submarines, reaching the rank of lieutenant commander.
At Harvard, Quine helped supervise the Harvard graduate theses of, among others, David Lewis, Daniel Dennett, Gilbert Harman, Dagfinn Føllesdal, Hao Wang, Hugues LeBlanc, Henry Hiz and George Myro. For the academic year 1964–1965, Quine was a fellow on the faculty in the Center for Advanced Studies at Wesleyan University. In 1980 Quine received an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Humanities at Uppsala University, Sweden. Quine was an atheist, he had four children by two marriages. Guitarist Robert Quine was his nephew. In the foreword to the new edition of Word and Object, Quine's student Dagfinn Føllesdal noted that Quine began to lose his memory toward the end of his life; the deterioration of his short-term memory was so severe that he struggled to continue following arguments. Quine had considerable difficulty in his project to make the desired revisions to Word and Object. Before passing away, Quine noted to Morton White, "I do not remember what my illness is called, Althusser or Alzheimer, but since I cannot remember it, it must be Alzheimer."
He passed away from the illness on Christmas Day in 2000. Quine was politically conservative, but the bulk of his writing was in technical areas of philosophy removed from direct political issues, he did, write in defense of several conservative positions: for example, in Quiddities: An Intermittently Philosophical Dictionary, he wrote a defense of moral censorship. Quine's Ph. D. thesis and early publications were on formal set theory. Only after World War II did he, by virtue of seminal papers on ontology and language, emerge as a major philosopher. By the 1960s, he had worked out his "naturalized epistemology" whose aim was to answer all substantive questions of knowledge and meaning using the methods and tools of the natural sciences. Quine roundly rejected the notion that there should be a "first philosophy"
Belief is the state of mind in which a person thinks something to be the case regardless of empirical evidence to prove that something is the case with factual certainty. Another way of defining belief sees it as a mental representation of an attitude positively oriented towards the likelihood of something being true. In the context of Ancient Greek thought, two related concepts were identified with regards to the concept of belief: pistis and doxa. Simplified, we may say that pistis refers to "trust" and "confidence", while doxa refers to "opinion" and "acceptance"; the English word "orthodoxy" derives from doxa. Jonathan Leicester suggests that belief has the purpose of guiding action rather than indicating truth. In epistemology, philosophers use the term "belief" to refer to personal attitudes associated with true or false ideas and concepts. However, "belief" does not require active circumspection. For example, we never ponder. We assume the sun will rise. Since "belief" is an important aspect of mundane life, according to Eric Schwitzgebel in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, a related question asks: "how a physical organism can have beliefs?"
Epistemology is concerned with delineating the boundary between justified belief and opinion, involved with a theoretical philosophical study of knowledge. The primary problem in epistemology is to understand what is needed in order for us to have knowledge. In a notion derived from Plato's dialogue Theaetetus, where the epistemology of Socrates most departs from that of the sophists, who at the time of Plato seem to have defined knowledge as what is here expressed as "justified true belief"; the tendency to translate from belief to knowledge, which Plato utterly dismisses, results from failing to distinguish a dispositive belief from knowledge when the opinion is regarded true, in terms of right, juristically so, the task of the rhetors to prove. Plato dismisses this possibility of an affirmative relation between belief and knowledge when the one who opines grounds his belief on the rule, is able to add justification to it. Plato has been credited for the "justified true belief" theory of knowledge though Plato in the Theaetetus elegantly dismisses it, posits this argument of Socrates as a cause for his death penalty.
Among American epistemologists and Goldman, have questioned the "justified true belief" definition, challenged the "sophists" of their time. Mainstream psychology and related disciplines have traditionally treated belief as if it were the simplest form of mental representation and therefore one of the building blocks of conscious thought. Philosophers have tended to be more abstract in their analysis, much of the work examining the viability of the belief concept stems from philosophical analysis; the concept of belief presumes an object of belief. So, like other propositional attitudes, belief implies the existence of mental states and intentionality, both of which are hotly debated topics in the philosophy of mind, whose foundations and relation to brain states are still controversial. Beliefs are sometimes divided into dispositional beliefs. For example, if asked "do you believe tigers wear pink pajamas?" A person might answer that they do not, despite the fact they may never have thought about this situation before.
This has important implications for understanding the neuroscience of belief. If the concept of belief is incoherent any attempt to find the underlying neural processes that support it will fail. Philosopher Lynne Rudder Baker has outlined four main contemporary approaches to belief in her controversial book Saving Belief: Our common-sense understanding of belief is correct – Sometimes called the "mental sentence theory," in this conception, beliefs exist as coherent entities, the way we talk about them in everyday life is a valid basis for scientific endeavour. Jerry Fodor is one of the principal defenders of this point of view. Our common-sense understanding of belief may not be correct, but it is close enough to make some useful predictions – This view argues that we will reject the idea of belief as we know it now, but that there may be a correlation between what we take to be a belief when someone says "I believe that snow is white" and how a future theory of psychology will explain this behaviour.
Most notably, philosopher Stephen Stich has argued for this particular understanding of belief. Our common-sense understanding of belief is wrong and will be superseded by a radically different theory that will have no use for the concept of belief as we know it – Known as eliminativism, this view argues that the concept of belief is like obsolete theories of times past such as the four humours theory of medicine, or the phlogiston theory of combustion. In these cases science hasn't provided us with a more detailed account of these theories, but rejected them as valid scientific concepts to be replaced by different accounts; the Churchlands argue that our common-sense concept of belief is similar in that as we discover more about neuroscience and the brain, the inevitable conclusion will be to reject the belief hypothesis in its entirety. Our common-sense unders