Archiwum czatu z prof. Hilary Putnamem (02.05.2002)

od redakcji filozofia.org.pl - Czat z prof. Hilarym Putnamem był pierwszym, publicznie dostępnym wywiadem on-line z filozofem amerykańskim zrealizowanym w polskim internecie. Zorganizowałem go przy wsparciu technicznym firmy WIZJA.NET. Pierwotnie dostępny był on w "serwisie dla każdego", który redagowałem na stronie www.filozofia.pl. Nie obyło się bez trudności-pierwsze kilka pytań trafiło do Profesora drogą e-mail'ową (jak również Jego odpowiedzi), gdyż szwankował formularz czatu. Publikujemy ten tekst nie tylko z racji jego zawartości, ale przede wszystkim z uwagi na okoliczność, iż zainteresowanie w środowisku filozoficznym wywołało dopiero
wieść, iż miał on miejsce. Grzegorz Trela

filozofia.pl (Ten adres pocztowy jest chroniony przed spamowaniem. Aby go zobaczyć, konieczne jest włączenie w przeglądarce obsługi JavaScript.): Good morning Professor Putnam. Thank you for accepting our invitation to this chat. We would like you to talk to our guests on the Net. We hope you find it interesting.
Hilary Putnam: OK. Sorry for the delay - I had to give up on "Eudora" and shift to "Pine" - don't know why. Computers!

unwise (Ten adres pocztowy jest chroniony przed spamowaniem. Aby go zobaczyć, konieczne jest włączenie w przeglądarce obsługi JavaScript.): is math inventing or discovering?
Hilary Putnam: Of course human beings invented mathematics, but I take it that what is meant is not this trivial historical fact, but whether once mathematical uses of language have been invented, what we SAY with their aid is something we genuinely discover, or whether "truth", so called, in mathematics is "truth by convention", or something of that sort. I think the idea of truth by convention has been refuted by Quine, in a paper of that name. A more complex question is whether truth in mathematics can outrun provability (whether there are truths in mathematics that a human being cannot prove). To just cite Goedel's theorem as showing there are begs the question (because it assumes that the undecidable sentences have a truth value). But I do beleive there are. I read a paper on this in Paris last year, and you can find it on the website I listed in the previous message: http://staff.washington.edu/dalexand/ The heart of my argument (already defended briefly in the papers on phil of math in my MIND, LANGUAGE AND REALITY is that one cannot consistently be a commonsense realist in physics (as I think we must be) and an anti-realist in philosophy of mathematics.

Jan Cieslar (Ten adres pocztowy jest chroniony przed spamowaniem. Aby go zobaczyć, konieczne jest włączenie w przeglądarce obsługi JavaScript.): Good morning, What's your state about technological singularity? Many technocrats predict the end of humanity. How does this refeer to recent (bad) news?
Hilary Putnam: To say either "disaster is inevitable" or "progress is inevitable" is a copout, an attempt to evade resonsibility. The future is up to us, and it can go either way.

Andrzej Zbirowski (Ten adres pocztowy jest chroniony przed spamowaniem. Aby go zobaczyć, konieczne jest włączenie w przeglądarce obsługi JavaScript.): Hello, How would you imagine a civilization based on smarter or wiser or more creative intelligence?
Hilary Putnam: I don't write science fiction, not about such a serious question. I take it that the real question is how to think about our present situation. My brief answer is that the only philosopher of the nineteenth century to see the real issue was Kant in "Perpetual Peace". (Few if any twentieth century philosophers did, and some of them - e.g. Heidegger - had disastrous philosophies of history). To spell out what I mean: the nation state is coming to an end, just as Kant foresaw. Trying to preserve fortress nation states can lead to disaster, but not to a stable alternative form of politics/economics/life. Unfortunately, my own country, the United States, IS trying to be a fortress nation state at the moment, but it will not succeed. The alternative is to take the idea that we are all citizens of the world SERIOUSLY. A book that spells this out beautifully (by a great Catholic thinker, by the way) is Nicholas Boyle's book "WHo Are We Now?" (Notre Dame Press)

desperado (Ten adres pocztowy jest chroniony przed spamowaniem. Aby go zobaczyć, konieczne jest włączenie w przeglądarce obsługi JavaScript.): What do you know about modern polish philosophy?
Hilary Putnam: I know about Tarski's and Lezniewski's work. I don't know very much about later developments - especially since the fall of Communism.

Grzegorz Trela (Ten adres pocztowy jest chroniony przed spamowaniem. Aby go zobaczyć, konieczne jest włączenie w przeglądarce obsługi JavaScript.): Which Theory of meaning is your favourites? Why This?
Hilary Putnam: I still defend the theory I presented in "The Meaning of 'Meaning'". I have added to it in REPRESENTATION AND REALITY, and I briefly discussed Searle's criticisms in the foreword I wrote to a book called THE TWIN-EARTH CHRONICLES. I do not have time to restate it here. The most important new development in semantic theory is the work of Charles Travis, who has emphasized "context sensitivity". I refer to his work in part II of THE THREEFOLD CORD. His most recent (very important) book is titled UNSHADOWED THOUGHT. I explain its importance in a discussion/review in a recent issue of THE PHILOSOPHICAL QUARTERLY.

Jakub (Ten adres pocztowy jest chroniony przed spamowaniem. Aby go zobaczyć, konieczne jest włączenie w przeglądarce obsługi JavaScript.): Maybe I can start from the very general - is philosophy as popular and important as it was a few or a dozen ages ago?
Hilary Putnam: There are two ways of using important: one can ask what the global market and the media counts as important, and one can ask what is really impoortant, important if we are to be more than consumers in the global market. In the first sense, NOTHING is important any more: everything is just a commodity to be "hyped", enthused over, consumed, and then forgotten. In the second sense the importance of philosophy is just what it was in Plato's day (and it wasn't very "popular" then, as the execution of Socrates testifies). Philosophy stands for what John Dewey called "criticim of criticism", for the highest possible and most independent possible kind of reflection, and that is always necessary.

Grzegorz Trela (Ten adres pocztowy jest chroniony przed spamowaniem. Aby go zobaczyć, konieczne jest włączenie w przeglądarce obsługi JavaScript.): Many years ago you write essay "Why is a philosopher" - What do You thing about this subcject today?
Hilary Putnam: That essay was written for an antirealist ("internal realist") point of view. I agree with some of the general remarks about the unpredictability of what the next century's philosophy will look like, but not with the metaphysics that informed that paper, for reasons I discussed in THE THREEFOLD CORD.

Tadeusz Szubka (Ten adres pocztowy jest chroniony przed spamowaniem. Aby go zobaczyć, konieczne jest włączenie w przeglądarce obsługi JavaScript.): At the end of your recent paper you ponder the question if analytic philosophy should continue, and suggest that in cur rent times we should rather be philosophers without adjective. However, the rift between analytic and continental philosophy refuses to disappear. Do you think it will ever disappear?
Hilary Putnam: I did not mean that philosophical disagreement should cease -that would be the end of philosophy, indeed of independent thinking and reflection, but I am disturbed by the idea of a group which labels itself "analytic philosohy". In practice that group tends to be exclusionary (to look down on all but a certain number of English-speaking philosophers). Moreover, what is the basis of unity of this group? Not a common method, and certainly not common views, but only a self-congratulatory claim that "We are CLEAR and the others are FUZZY". (Not only is analytic philosophy often far from clear, but the assumption that everything worth saying can be said clearly has never, to my knowledge, beed ARGUED for. I don't think it is self evident; in fact, I don't think it is true.

desperado (Ten adres pocztowy jest chroniony przed spamowaniem. Aby go zobaczyć, konieczne jest włączenie w przeglądarce obsługi JavaScript.): How many faces realism have today?
Hilary Putnam: The short, but uninformative answer is "infinitely many". The longer answer is that it has one face worth keeping and many others worth distinguishing from it. The one I think essential is commonsense realism. Commonsense realism is, however, not a philosophical position, although the DEFENSE of commonsense realism is a task for philosophers. (I attribute this idea to Wittgenstein, who is (sadly) not often read this way.) We see commonsense realism in action in the following exchange: A. "How did you know there was a fire in the building?" B. "I smelled smoke, and then I saw the flames." Here B unhesitatingly speaks of perceiving things and events "out there" in the "external world". Since the 17th century most philosophers have thought that this has either to be supplemented by a story about how we are only "given" sense-data and have to "infer" material objects, or about how sense data "cause" us to think we are perceiving a material object, or, in more radical versions, how we have to reinterpret our commonsense talk (phenomenalism, idealism) or even give up part of it (Dummett's defense of intuitionism, Bas Van Frassen's denial that we can know there are unobservables, such as genes and atoms). The task of the philosopher (Wittgenstein, Austin, myself) who defends commonsense realism is to show that all these views are, in the end, nonsensical - but that is not easy, and by "nonsensical" I do NOT mean "violate some supposed rule which all meaningful language must conform to". It is not the language of these views that is at fault, but the use made of that language, the incoherent use. This is a conservative interpretation of Wittgenstein, in that it brings him much more into line with Socrates. For a defense of this interpretation, see my paper "Rules, Attunement, and "Applying Words to the World"; the Struggle to Understand Wittgensteins Vision of Language". I will put it on my teaching assistant's website here at the University Of Washington where I am teaching for two months. The sit is http://staff.washington.edu/dalexand/ And the paper will be on the site by tomorrow. I also count what I call "conceptual pluralism" as an essential part of commonsense realism, as shown by how we actually talk, not by how we theorize about how we talk. For an explanation and defendse, see my Hermes LEctures, especially Lecture II, which are already available on the site I just gave you. Another philosophical attack on commonsense realism, different form the one based on the interface conception of perception (the conception on which we are only given "sense data" inside our heads/minds) attacks this pluralism, and insists that one and only one language game should be take seriously when we want to describe objective reality, usually the language game of science. This is a species of metaphysical realism (call it MONISM). I think the task is to rebut both the positivist/idealist/verificationist criticisms of commonsense realism AND the monist criticisms. Finally, in addition to interface-concedption based varieties of antirealism and monist varieties of realism there are what I call "inflationary" ontologists. So there are endlessly many faces of realism, but only one worth preserving - our commonsense pluralist one. For a defense of all this see my THE THREEFOLD CORD' MIND, BODY AND WORLD for a critique of the interface conception, and my Hermes lectures, available on the sit above, for the defense of pluralism. I would add to wwhat I wrote in THE THREEFOLD CORD that much of the problem of 17th century and later philosophy comes from failing to see how how perceptual transactions with external things, which are, at one level of description, physical transactions, can simultaneouly be COGNITIVE transactions all the way to the material object itself. This connects with the tendency to deny or fail to see that HIGHER LEVEL FORM can have a genuine causal explanatory role that I criticize in the first AFTERWORD to THE THREEFOLD CORD.

T. Szubka (Ten adres pocztowy jest chroniony przed spamowaniem. Aby go zobaczyć, konieczne jest włączenie w przeglądarce obsługi JavaScript.): You was once a proponent of functionalism in the philosophy of mind, and then you convincingly criticized that position. If functionalism does not work as the solution to the mind-body problem, what other approaches to that classical philosophical problem you currently find more plausible?
Hilary Putnam: I thought I made my alternative approach clear in THE THREEFOLD CORD. Briefly put, it is a naturalized Aristotelianism, Aristotelian hylomorphism minus the metaphysics of nous, etc. One could also call it a non-computational form of functionalism. Functionalism thought the "jobs" the roles, of our mental states could be defined WITHOUT USING PSYCHOLOGICAL CONCEPTS and also claimed that to have a mental state is just to be an organism whose body/brain/transactions with the environment fill one of those roles, do one of those "jobs". The identification of mental states with "jobs" that the whole organsism (or organism cum environment) does still seems right to me, but the first claim, the reductionist claim, is where the mistake lay.

Tadeusz Szubka (Ten adres pocztowy jest chroniony przed spamowaniem. Aby go zobaczyć, konieczne jest włączenie w przeglądarce obsługi JavaScript.): In your recent publications and discussions you try to take a middle course between the correspondence theory of truth and the epistemic conception of truth. But do you think there is a stable middle ground here? Or perhaps you would rather be prepared to admit that there is no interesting general theory of truth, since -- as the later Wittgenstein seems to suggest -- truth comes to different things in different discourses (that view is sometimes know as pluralism about truth). >Hilary Putnam: I interpret and defend Wittgenstein on truth in Part I, LEcture III of THE THREEFOLD CORD. I cannot repeat all that here. Some key points are: it is contents, not marks and noises, that are true. Of course we sometimes call a sentence "true", but that is a way of saying that its content in some contest is true. FOrgetting this leads to a bad kind of "disquotationalism". Secondly, applied to contents, "true" is a logical notion, like "or". It applies to EVERY kind of content, just as the logical words do. "Corresponds to reality" is something we can say about some (descriptive) expressions; but not all true statements are DESCRIPTIONS. I discuss this further in my HERMES Lecture III, available on the webbsite I listed: http://staff.washington.edu/dalexand/

Tomek C. (Ten adres pocztowy jest chroniony przed spamowaniem. Aby go zobaczyć, konieczne jest włączenie w przeglądarce obsługi JavaScript.): How moral principles do you direct in your life?
Hilary Putnam: First, the great Levinasian principle that one should never turn one's back on the suffering of the other. Secondly, the Kantian insight, that compassion has to be UNIVERSALIZED, Third, the Aristotelian insight that we must reflect seriously on what constitutes a fulfilling human life (here I am a pluralist, unlike Aristotle, however). And fourth, the Deweyan insight that ethics deals with practical problems, not with exceptionless "principles". Is there conflict between these? Of course!But as I say in my first Hermes Lecture: Most ethicists, however, down to the present day, still opt for one or another of the concerns I listed, or perhaps opt simply for the Utilitarian concern with maximizing pleasure (the greatest pleasure of the greatest number for the longest period of time, or some successor to that formula) and try either to deny the ethical significance of the other concerns or else to reduce them to their favorite concern. It is as if they wanted to see ethics as a noble statue standing at the top of a single pillar. My image is rather different. My image would be of a table with many legs. We all know that a table with many legs wobbles when the floor on which it stands is not even, but such a table is very hard to turn over, and that is how I see ethics: as a table with many legs, which wobbles a lot, but is very hard to turn over. "

Asia: When You arrive to the National Polish Philosophical Forum?
Hilary Putnam: I don't know what this is.

desperado (Ten adres pocztowy jest chroniony przed spamowaniem. Aby go zobaczyć, konieczne jest włączenie w przeglądarce obsługi JavaScript.): What You Thinking now about Tarski Theory of True?
Hilary Putnam: See the Chapter about reference and truth in my REPRESENTATION AND REALITY, as well as the paper "A Comparison of Something with Something Else" in my WORDS AND LIFE

Grzegorz Trela (Ten adres pocztowy jest chroniony przed spamowaniem. Aby go zobaczyć, konieczne jest włączenie w przeglądarce obsługi JavaScript.): What is the Future of Philosophy?
Hilary Putnam: I don't have a crystal ball.

Tomek C. (Ten adres pocztowy jest chroniony przed spamowaniem. Aby go zobaczyć, konieczne jest włączenie w przeglądarce obsługi JavaScript.): How arguments talk to the realism?
Hilary Putnam: Read my THREEFOLD CORD

Grzegorz Trela (Ten adres pocztowy jest chroniony przed spamowaniem. Aby go zobaczyć, konieczne jest włączenie w przeglądarce obsługi JavaScript.): Did postmodernism died now? What You Thinging about postmodernism Philosophy?
Hilary Putnam: The dangerous aspect of Postmodernism is the sometimes explicit contempt for the idea of justified belief (what Dewey called "warranted assertibility"). Since I said some critical words about analytic philosophy in my answer to a previous question, let me say that the good side of analytic philosophy its consistent criticism of Postmodernism. Tomek C. (Ten adres pocztowy jest chroniony przed spamowaniem. Aby go zobaczyć, konieczne jest włączenie w przeglądarce obsługi JavaScript.): How is your favourite lectures in clasical Philosophy, literature?
Hilary Putnam: After Plato and Aristotle, Kant is one of my "heroes", as James Conant pointed out in his introduction to REALISM WITH A HUMAN FACE. So is Kierkegaard (favorite book: Concluding Nonscientific Postscript). Obviously, so are Wittgenstein and Dewey (each is strong where the other is weak) In literature, the there are so many favorites. Among the English novelists, certainly Henry James and George Eliot are my favorites.

Tadeusz Szubka (Ten adres pocztowy jest chroniony przed spamowaniem. Aby go zobaczyć, konieczne jest włączenie w przeglądarce obsługi JavaScript.): A number of your recently published papers fall within the domain of the philosophy of religion. Do you intend to writ e a book in that area?
Hilary Putnam: I am writing a book to be called "Three Jewish Philosophers: Buber, Rosenkranz and Levinas"

filozofia.pl (Ten adres pocztowy jest chroniony przed spamowaniem. Aby go zobaczyć, konieczne jest włączenie w przeglądarce obsługi JavaScript.): Dear Professor, we would like to thank you for your responces. The Chat was great! See you next time. Hope soon!
Hilary Putnam: Thank you for your questions! MY APOLOGIES TO THE OTHERS, BUT WE ARE RUNNING OUT OF TIME.