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- Chirag Mehta
- Philosophy: 104 (Sec: 03)
- Martin Bunzl (TA: Walter Dean)
- 30 Apr. 2001
- Grade: A
The term analytic dates back two thousand years to ancient Greece, although its meaning and usage has changed considerably over this period. Plato used "analysis" as a method of proof. According to him analytic meant a backward method for proof and synthetic meant a forward method. Consequently, synthesis was a proof procedure that begins with axioms and proceeds towards a proposition that is to be proven.
Leibniz talked about necessary and contingent truths, that is truths of reason and truths of facts. He said that necessary truths could be established by analysis while contingent by synthetic methods. Kant was the one who clearly distinguished between analytic and synthetic and gave precise definitions for both. According to him, a statement is analytic if it is true by virtue of its meaning, independent of fact. What this means is that analytic statements are those, which are true because of the inherent meanings of the "words" within the statement, rather than some empirical facts. Synthetic statements of the other hand require proof from the facts of the world, in other to be proven true.
Quine took Kant's idea of analytic and attempted to arrive at a more precise definition of analyticity:
- Being a metaphysical minimalist, Quine begins his theory by first and foremost rejecting Leibniz's concept of possible worlds, that is he does not believe in modal notions like necessity and does not want to use them to define analytic.
- Analytic =df True by virtue of meaning (Kant).
- Taking Kant's definition of analytic as being true by virtue of meaning, Quine attempts to determine what is "meaning."
- Meaning =df ?
- Meaning is different from naming or reference because although examples like "Evening Star" and "Morning Star" name or refer to the same object, they do not mean the same. Since empirical evidence was required to prove that Evening Star = Morning Star, therefore meaning must be treated differently from naming or reference.
- Then he suggests that maybe the theory of meaning is simple the "synonymy" of linguistic forms, that is, analytic statements are true because they are concerned with synonyms. The synonymy that Quine talks about is "cognitive synonymy"
- Meaning =df Synonymy of linguistic forms
- To find out what is synonymy, Quine suggested the use of intersubstitutivity salva veritate, that is two "words" or phrases are synonymous if a statement retains its truth value after substituting one with the other:
- S (x) = x is P.
- Here if 'a' and 'b' are two words, and if S (a) = S (b) then 'a' and 'b' are synonymous.
- It is to be kept in mind that this intersubstitutivity salva veritate depends on the language and so our method must take that into account also.
- S (x) for L = x is P for L, where L is the language
- But if we take 'a' = 'creature with a heart' and 'b' = 'creature with a kidney', according to the above, it seems 'a' and 'b' are synonymous, since in this world, every creature which has a heart also has a kidney and thus vice versa. But we intuitively know that 'a' and 'b' are not synonymous.
- The only way to solve this problem is to extend the S (x) for all possible worlds. That is:
- S (x) for L = x is P for L in all possible worlds.
- This method will work, but then we need to analyze the concept of possible worlds. But we can avoid the analysis of possible worlds, by using the idea of 'necessity,' because necessarily true statements are true in all possible worlds. That is:
- S (x) for L = Necessarily x is P for L
- But now according to Quine, it is impossible to analyze necessity or modality, without referring to analyticity. But we do not have a definition for analyticity yet and that is exactly what we wanted in the first place.