Hilary Putnam Quotes

A quotes list created by Lee Sonogan

Hilary Putnam | American philosopher | Britannica

One of the most important analytic philosophers of the 20th century. What he did might as well consider him as a polymath. More than linguistic teaching at many schools, his notable ideas are too much to list in many fields of study. Arguments, algorithms and logic. Some of my strongest opinions are already shared by this guy. I highly recommend his work as it is the more modern research you want compared to the biggest Greek thinkers.

  • “Science is wonderful at destroying metaphysical answers, but incapable of providing substitute ones. Science takes away foundations without providing a replacement. Whether we want to be there or not, science has put us in the position of having to live without foundations. It was shocking when Nietzsche said this, but today it is commonplace; our historical position-and no end to it is in sight-is that of having to philosophise without ‘foundations’.”
  • “Philosophy needs vision and argument… there is something disappointing about a philosophical work that contains arguments, however good, which are not inspired by some genuine vision, and something disappointing about a philosophical work that contains a vision, however inspiring, which is unsupported by arguments…Speculation about how things hang together requires… the ability to draw out conceptual distinctions and connections, and the ability to argue… But speculative views, however interesting or well supported by arguments or insightful, are not all we need. We also need what [the philosopher Myles] Burnyeat called ‘vision’ – and I take that to mean vision as to how to live our lives, and how to order our societies.”
  • “All of this is really impossible, in the way that it is really impossible that monkeys should by chance type out a copy of Hamlet.”
  • “Rosenzweig daringly criticizes Plato’s dialogues because in them “the thinker knows his thoughts in advance,” and moreover the other is only raising the objections the author thought of himself.”
  • I can only please one person per day. Today isn’t your day, tomorrow doesn’t look good either.
  • Cut the pie any way you like, “meanings” just ain’t in the head!
  • While there is such a thing as correctness in ethics, in interpretation, in mathematics, the way to understand that is not by trying to model it on the ways in which we get things right in physics.
  • The physicist who states a law of nature with the aid of a mathematical formula is abstracting a real feature of a real material world, even if he has to speak of numbers, vectors, tensors, state-functions, or whatever to make the abstraction.
  • … causes (pains) are not logical constructions out of their effects (behaviour).
  • I think part of the appeal of mathematical logic is that the formulas look mysterious – You write backward Es!
  • “A philosopher looks at quantum mechanics (again)
  • It was Rudolf Carnap’s dream for the last three decades of his life to show that science proceeds by a formal syntactic method; today no one to my knowledge holds out any hope for that project.
  • What we are left with, if what I have said so far is right, is a conclusion that I initially found very distressing: either GRW or some successor, or else Bohm or some successor, is the correct interpretation—or, to include a third possibility to please Itamar Pitowski, we will just fail to find a scientific realist interpretation which is acceptable.

Thought-provoking in so many ways, his has credit for the Brain in a Vat/Twin Earth experimental theories. As I agree to be against the metaphysical in certain systems or intactness. Or even engineering physics thinking in semantic externalism. Still missing a lot, he also has written a book on pragmatics that I want to read in my hands.

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