The American Philosopher: Conversations with Quine, Davidson, Putnam, Nozick, Danto, Rorty, Cavell, MacIntyre, and Kuhn

By Rosanna Crocitto; Giovanna Borradori | Go to book overview

1
Twentieth-Century Logic Willard Van Orman Quine

In 1965, only five years after its publication, Willard Van Orman Quine's Word and Object was described by critics as "the most discussed book of American philosophy since the Second World War." Born in 1908 in Akron, Ohio, Quine had long since entered full maturity, and had for some decades played a key role in international philosophy. Having guided the emigration of the ideas and the authors of the Vienna Circle onto American soil at the dawn of the Second World War, he imposed on them a decisive theoretical turn, based on indigenous pragmatism and behaviorism.

The itinerary that led Quine to Vienna and to logical positivism in 1933 was a progressive march towards the East: from the Great Plains through Harvard University, where in only two years he completed a doctorate in mathematical logic under the guidance of Alfred N. Whitehead, co-author with Bertrand Russell of Principia Mathematica. His sojourns in Vienna, and then in Prague, brought him into contact with all the great masters of the Vienna Circle, from Rudolf Carnap to Hans Reichenbach, and from Moritz Schlick to the Polish mathematician Alfred Tarski. This contact rapidly became a profound intellectual syntony that, from then onward, would tie Quine to the fate of logical positivism and which, through him, would change the destiny of contemporary American thought. From the citadel of Harvard, where he still remains after forty years of teaching, Quine has never ceased to project an aura of very powerful thought, representing one of the fundamental reference points for the currents of analytic and post-analytic philosophy.

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The American Philosopher: Conversations with Quine, Davidson, Putnam, Nozick, Danto, Rorty, Cavell, MacIntyre, and Kuhn
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