A Legacy of Logical Positivism

Logical positivism was a useful stimulus to language and logic. Symbolic logic, modal logic and linguistic philosophy may have its drawbacks, yet it undeniably is exceedingly useful in forming and verifying meanings of words and language constructions. Who cannot be intrigued by the logical relations of words and propositions in the abstract, and the way those relationships may be expressed in various digital ways such as computational logic? Discovering patterns of communications structures expressible in some mathematical paradigm and modeled in high-level computer language was an interesting speculative possibility.

While empiricism and A.J. Ayer were one of the stronger threads of philosophical thought for a time, the linguistic philosophy and philosophy of logic also developed along an alternative line in part, and that led not only to W.V.O. Quine’s The Two Dogmas of Empiricism, it led to many fine works such as Elements of Logic, Word and Object, Individuals and Ontological Relativity that surpassed the subject-object paradigm so far as one might in the phenomenon of being with the reef of solipsism and problems of uncertainty.

Logical positivism was a stage on the way of understanding the relationship of human being in-the-verse to what can be said about it. Lexical ontologies were understood and the realism-nominalism issue clarified by Kripke and Quine. I think it all worked out. Epistemological analysis was accelerated with linguistic philosophy. It was possible to consider intentional and extentional expressions comparable to the phenomenal, a priori and noumenal. One could sort out phrases that were subjective yet made about the ‘external’ world, and those that were more purely objective though conditional.

The primary problems of western civilization or even world civilization of the 20th century were non-rational romanticism leading to Nazi Germany and simple over-simplified populism with mass-produced, unnuanced politics and ecospheric relationships. Certainly scientific socialism of the U.S.S.R. and China were survivors of the fascist populism age with Marxist realism in its dialectical war against historical aristocrats and capitalist nephews. Logical positivism’s heirs in linguistic philosophy were not crass, naïve realists without an awareness of French rationalism and the challenges presented in language to accurate description of objects for-themselves.

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