Frankfurt on Bullshit

For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose.
Harry Frankfurt, On Bullshuit

Frankfurt on Bullshit

Her statement is grounded neither in a belief that it is true nor, as a lie must be, in a belief that it is not true. It is just this lack of connection to a concern with truth — this indifference to how things really are — that I regard as of the essence of bullshit.
Harry Frankfurt, On Bullshit.

John Austin on Excuses

Here, surely, is just the sort of situation where people will say ‘almost anything’, because they are so flurried, or so anxious to get off. ‘It was a mistake,’ ‘It was an accident’ -- how readily these can appear indifferent, and even be used together. Yet, a story or two, and everybody will not merely agree that they are completely different, but even discover for himself what the difference is and what each means.*

*You have a donkey, so have I, and they graze in the same field. The day comes when I conceive a dislike for mine. I go to shoot it, draw a bead on it, fire: the brute falls in its tracks. I inspect the victim , and find to my horror that it is your donkey. I appear on your doorstep with the remains and say -- what? ‘I say, old sport, I’m awfully sorry, &c., I’ve shot your donkey by accident’? Or ‘by mistake’? Then again, I go to shoot my donkey as before, draw a bead on it, fire -- but as I do so the beasts move, and to my horror yours falls. Again the scene on the doorstep -- what do I say? ‘By mistake’? Or ‘by accident’?

from “A Plea for Excuses,” in John Austin, Philosophical Papers, 1970. London: Oxford University Press: 184-185.

Popper Quotes Mengers on Definition

Definitions are dogmas; only the conclusions drawn from them can afford us any new insight.
K. Mengers, Dimensionstheorie, 1928

Russell On Philosophy

Philosophy is to be studied, not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions since no definite answers can, as a rule, be known to be true, but rather for the sake of the questions themselves; because these questions enlarge our conception of what is possible, enrich our intellectual imagination and diminish the dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation; but above all because, through the greatness of the universe which philosophy contemplates, the mind also is rendered great, and becomes capable of that union with the universe which constitutes its highest good.
Bertrand Russell, The Problems of Philosophy

Haack On Old Deferentialists and New Cynics

The Old Deferentialists, taking the rationality of science for granted, assumed that there must be a uniquely rational method of inquiry exclusive to the sciences; the New Cynics, noticing the failure of efforts to articulate what that uniquely rational method is, conclude that science is not a rational enterprise, in fact, that the whole idea of objectively better or worse conducted inquiry is ideological humbug. Neither the Old Deferentialism nor the New Cynicism will do: the former is too uncritically deferential to science, the latter is too uncritically critical. 
Susan Haack, Manifesto of a Passionate Moderate, p.3

Wittgenstein On Calculi Containing Contradictions

Indeed, even at this stage I predict a time when there will be mathematical investigations of calculi containing contradictions, and people will actually be proud of having emancipated themselves even from consistency.
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Remarks

Priest On the Say-so of Experts

[N]o one is an expert in many areas, and we all have to accept things on the say-so of experts in some areas. If someone believes that it is irrational to believe contradictions on the basis of experts in logic and philosophy, their belief is not irrational. The charge of irrationality is levelled against people who ought to have known better. 
Graham Priest, Doubt Truth to be a Liar, p.121


有些基本的行為動機並非出於理性 ── 例如愛、品味與性格 ── 但是,「與理性無關」並不等同於「非理性」。喜歡草莓更甚於覆盆子,這與理性或非理性無關;然而,就偏好來看,如果此時草莓與覆盆子的價格相同,卻捨草海而買覆盆子,就是個非理性的選擇。

Rorty On Analytic Philosophy

Any problem that enjoys a simultaneous vogue in ten of the hundred or so “analytic” philosophy departments in America is doing exceptionally well. The field these days is a jungle of competing research programs, programs which seem to have a shorter and shorter half-life as the years go by.
Richard Rorty, Consequences of Pragmatism: Essays: 1972 - 1980

Moore On the Business of Philosophers

It is not the business of the ethical philosopher to give personal advice or exhortation.
G. E. Moore, Principia Ethica

Grice On Philosophy

It is no more sensible to complain that philosophy is no longer capable of solving practical problems than it is to complain that the study of the stars no longer enables one to predict the course of world events. 
Paul Grice, “Postwar Oxford Philosophy”

Wittgenstein On Language

Our language can be regarded as an ancient city: a maze of little streets and squares, of old and new houses, and of houses with extensions from various periods; and this surrounded by a multitude of new suburbs with straight and regular streets and uniform houses. 
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigation

Quine On Empiricism

For my part I do, qua lay physicist, believe in physical objects and not in Homer’s gods; and I consider it a scientific error to believe otherwise. But in point of epistemological footing the physical objects and the gods differ only in degree and not in kind. Both sorts of entities enter our conception only as cultural posits. The myth of physical objects is epistemologically superior to most in that it has proved more efficacious than other myths as a device for working a manageable structure into the flux of experience.
W. V. Quine, “Two Dogmas of Empiricism”

Russell On Wittgenstein

It has long been one of my dreams to found a great school of mathematically-minded philosophers, but I don’t know whether I shall ever get it accomplished. I had hopes of Norton, but he has not the physique, Broad is all right, but has no fundamental originality. Wittgenstein of course is exactly my dream. 
Bertrand Russell to Lady Ottoline Morrell, December 29, 1912

How is Pure Mathematics Possible

The question which Kant put at the beginning of his philosophy, namely “How is pure mathematics possible?” is an interesting and difficult one, to which every philosophy which is not purely sceptical must find some answer. 
Bertrand Russell, The Problems of Philosophy

Schwartz On Kripke

Here I must pause a moment to pay homage to Saul Kripke. I do not think that I am exaggerating too much if say that Kripke's Naming and Necessity is the apotheosis of analytic philosophy. Kripke’s analysis involving his prying apart of analyticity, a prioricity, and necessity, including his demonstrating that such statements as “Water is H20,” “Tigers are animals,” and “Gold is the element with atomic num­ber 79,” are necessary, a posteriori, and synthetic is the dialectical synthesis of logical positivism and Quinean pragmatism. It respects Quine’s insistence that such claims are revisable without admitting contingency. It respects the logical positivists’ insistence that such claims are necessary while avoiding confusions about analyticity. Kripke’s analysis is a fruitful application of modal logic, and a deep expression of our ordinary linguistic intuitions on which he relies. It honors Aristotelian essentialism and natural science. It is a meld­ ing of metaphysics and physics. His distinction between descriptions used as definitions and used to fix the reference is a masterpiece of philosophical insight. It clarifies all sorts of issues. I must pause to emphasize also that many others were involved in this apotheosis and had anticipated it in various ways: Putnam and Donnellan, of course; but also Carnap, Ruth Barcan Marcus, Alvin Plantinga, David Lewis and, of course, Quine as the spur. But no one else pulled it together, made it as cogent and compelling, and made as many connections as did Kripke.

Stephen Schwartz, A Brief History of Analytic Philosophy: From Russell to Rawls

Stalnaker On Kripke

[Kripke’s] most important philosophical accomplishment is in the way he posed and clarified the questions, and not in the particular answers that he gave to him. 
Robert Stalnaker, “Reference and Necessity”

Weston On Arguments

Once we have arrived at a conclusion that is well supported by reasons, we use arguments to explain and defend it. A good argument doesn't merely repeat conclusions. Instead it offers reasons and evidence so that other people can make up their minds for themselves. If you become convinced that we should indeed change the way we raise and use animals, for example, you must use arguments to explain how you arrived at your conclusion. That is how you will convince others: by offering the reasons and evidence that convinced you. It is not a mistake to have strong views. The mistake is to have nothing else.
Anthony Weston, A Rulebook for Arguments (4th), p. xii


Hand On Understanding

Of course, people seem to think that understanding a phenomenon takes away its mystery. This is true in the sense that understanding means removing obscurity, obfuscation, ambiguity and confusion.
David Hand, The Improbability Principle