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Showing posts from April, 2011

The myth-busting paper on definitions, final version

Busting a myth about Lesniewski and definitions, a paper I wrote with Severi Hamari (I talked about it a while ago) is now forthcoming in History and Philosophy of Logic. I also posted an updated version of the paper on my academia profile
One important change is that the discussion of  Nemesszeghys's views in section 9 contained a serious error. I missed it proofreading the first 20 times, but managed to catch this right before submition.Minor modifications are here and there.Another change is that we streamlined the references and provided more bibliographical details.Abstract A theory of definitions which places the eliminability and conservativeness requirements on definitions is usually called the standard theory. We examine a persistent myth which credits this theory to S. Lesniewski, a Polish logician. After a brief survey of its origins, we show that the myth is highly dubious. First, no place in Lesniewski’s published or unpublished work is known where the standard condi…

An Episode in the History of Polish Art and Logic

StanisÅ‚aw Ignacy Witkiewicz (aka Witkacy) (1885 – 1939) was a Polish painter, playwright, novelist and philosopher. He did a variety of things which not too many of us would describe as the usual day in the office: he wrote a manual (well, sort of) on using drugs (aka Unwashed Souls) and actually used drugs while painting. Some of my favorite pieces are spread over this post (HT to http://artyzm.com, where you can find more of them)).

Interestingly, Witkacy interacted with some of the Polish logicians, including Leon Chwistek (known for his work on type theory) and Alfred Tarski. He even painted portraits of both of them. Chwistek:
Tarski's portrait seems to be in Tarski's home in Berkeley (correct me if I'm wrong). But Victor W. Marek has posted a picture of it (here, 11th picture from the top).
(Nota bene, the above is not a portrait of Tarski! You actually have to follow the link to see it! ;)) Now, to the point. Witkacy  read Tarski's 1933 and scribbled his comments on…

Reading "Language, sense and nonsense"

For a while now, I've been forcing myself to read Language, Sense and Nonsense. A Critical Investigation into Modern Theories of Language by G. P. Baker and P.M.S. Hacker. I started reading it, because the main theses sounded interesting and controversial: the authors clam that modern philosophy of language and linguistics are based on false identification of main problems and severe misconceptions.
The book is meant to show that "the most of what goes by the name of `theories of meaning' or `scientific study of language' needs not remedial readjustment, but wholesale abandonment." [x]  The authors criticize  modern linguistics and philosophy of language  on account of assuming that (i) any natural language has a deep structure of a "(correct) formal, function-theoretic, logical calculus" [2], (ii) the task of the philosophy of language is to construct a theory of its meaning which would elicit "the underlying principles of construction of any langu…