Ideas from 'Speaking of Objects' by Willard Quine [1960], by Theme Structure

[found in 'Ontological Relativity and Other Essays' by Quine,Willard [Columbia 1969,0-231-08357-2]].

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7. Existence / C. Structure of Existence / 7. Abstract/Concrete / a. Abstract/concrete
We can only see an alien language in terms of our own thought structures (e.g. physical/abstract)
                        Full Idea: We are prone to talk about physical and abstract objects. It is hard to know how else to talk, because we are bound to adapt any alien pattern to our own in the very process of understanding or translating the alien sentences.
                        From: Willard Quine (Speaking of Objects [1960], pt.I,p.1)
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 10. Ontological Commitment / b. Commitment of quantifiers
"No entity without identity" - our ontology must contain items with settled identity conditions
                        Full Idea: Quine's well-known slogan "no entity without identity" means that no object should be admitted into our ontology unless its identity conditions, the conditions that say which object it is, have been settled.
                        From: report of Willard Quine (Speaking of Objects [1960]) by Joseph Melia - Modality Ch.4
                        A reaction: This invites science fiction scenarios, where we admit the existence of something before we have a clue what it is (whether it is physical, hallucination, divine..). Quine's slogan seems attractive but optimistic. How 'settled'?
8. Modes of Existence / B. Properties / 12. Denial of Properties
There is no proper identity concept for properties, and it is hard to distinguish one from two
                        Full Idea: The lack of a proper identity concept for attributes (properties) is a lack that philosophers feel impelled to supply; for, what sense is there in saying there are attributes when there is no sense in saying when there is one attribute and when two?
                        From: Willard Quine (Speaking of Objects [1960], IV)
                        A reaction: This strikes me as being a really crucial question. There is a mistaken tendency to take any possible linguistic predicate as implying a natural property. I sympathise with the sceptics here (see Ideas 4029, 3906, 3322). How to individuate properties?
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 2. Abstract Objects / b. Need for abstracta
Our conceptual scheme becomes more powerful when we posit abstract objects
                        Full Idea: There is no denying the access of power that accrues to our conceptual scheme through the positing of abstract objects.
                        From: Willard Quine (Speaking of Objects [1960], 5)
                        A reaction: This seems right, both in its use of the word 'posit', and in its general pragmatic claim. So why? If they enable us to grapple with the world better, it must be because of their power of generalisation. They are nets thrown over chunks of reality.
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 5. Individuation / a. Individuation
I prefer 'no object without identity' to Quine's 'no entity without identity'
                        Full Idea: To adapt Quine's famous slogan ('no entity without identity'), I prefer to say 'no object without identity'.
                        From: comment on Willard Quine (Speaking of Objects [1960], p.52) by E.J. Lowe - The Possibility of Metaphysics 7.1
                        A reaction: Quine was trying to make us all more scientific, but Lowe is closer to common sense. The sky is an entity, most of us would say, but with very shaky identity-conditions. A wave of the sea is a good example.
19. Language / F. Communication / 6. Interpreting Language / b. Indeterminate translation
You could know the complete behavioural conditions for a foreign language, and still not know their beliefs
                        Full Idea: We could know the necessary and sufficient stimulatory conditions of every possible act of utterance, in a foreign language, and still not know how to determine what objects the speakers of that language believe in.
                        From: Willard Quine (Speaking of Objects [1960], pt.III,p.11)
                        A reaction: I just don't believe this, because the same scepticism then creeps into discussions of native speakers of a single language, and all communcation is blighted - which is nonsense.
Translation of our remote past or language could be as problematic as alien languages
                        Full Idea: Translation of our remote past or future discourse into the terms we now know could be about as tenuous and arbitrary a projection as translation of a heathen language was seen to be.
                        From: Willard Quine (Speaking of Objects [1960], pt.V,p.25)
                        A reaction: Is he seriously saying that we can't understand Shakespeare, because holism implies that we would have to be Elizabethans? So scholarship is in vain? Is yesterday the 'past'?