Ideas from 'Identity, Ostension, and Hypostasis' by Willard Quine [1950], by Theme Structure

[found in 'From a Logical Point of View' by Quine,Willard [Harper and Row 1963,0-06-130566-9]].

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1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 6. Metaphysics as Conceptual
We aren't stuck with our native conceptual scheme; we can gradually change it
                        Full Idea: We must not leap to the fatalistic conclusion that we are stuck with the conceptual scheme that we grew up in. We can change it bit by bit, plank by plank.
                        From: Willard Quine (Identity, Ostension, and Hypostasis [1950], 5)
                        A reaction: This is an interesting commitment to Strawson's 'revisionary' metaphysics, rather than its duller cousin 'descriptive' metaphysics. Good for Quine. Remember, though, Davidson's 'On the Very Idea of Conceptual Scheme'.
7. Existence / B. Change in Existence / 2. Processes
A river is a process, with stages; if we consider it as one thing, we are considering a process
                        Full Idea: A river is a process through time, and the river stages are its momentary parts. Identification of the river bathed in once with the river bathed in again is just what determines our subject matter to be a river process as opposed to a river stage.
                        From: Willard Quine (Identity, Ostension, and Hypostasis [1950], 1)
                        A reaction: So if we take a thing which has stages, but instead of talking about the stages we talk about a single thing that endures through them, then we are talking about a process. Sounds very good to me.
7. Existence / C. Structure of Existence / 7. Abstract/Concrete / a. Abstract/concrete
We don't say 'red' is abstract, unlike a river, just because it has discontinuous shape
                        Full Idea: 'Red' is surely not going to be opposed to 'Cayster' [name of a river], as abstract to concrete, merely because of discontinuity in geometrical shape?
                        From: Willard Quine (Identity, Ostension, and Hypostasis [1950], 2)
                        A reaction: I've been slow to grasp the truth of this. However, Quine assumes that 'red' is concrete because 'Cayster' is, but it is perfectly arguable that 'Cayster' is an abstraction, despite all that water.
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 10. Ontological Commitment / a. Ontological commitment
General terms don't commit us ontologically, but singular terms with substitution do
                        Full Idea: The use of general terms does not commit us to admitting a corresponding abstract entity into our ontology, but an abstract singular term, including the law of putting equals for equals, flatly commits us to an abstract entity named by the term.
                        From: Willard Quine (Identity, Ostension, and Hypostasis [1950], 4)
                        A reaction: Does this mean that in 'for the sake of the children', I have to believe in 'sakes' if I can find a synonym which will substitute for it?
7. Existence / E. Categories / 5. Category Anti-Realism
Discourse generally departmentalizes itself to some degree
                        Full Idea: Discourse generally departmentalizes itself to some degree.
                        From: Willard Quine (Identity, Ostension, and Hypostasis [1950], 2)
                        A reaction: I pick this out because I think it is important. There is a continually shifting domain in any conversation ('what we are talking about'), and speech cannot be understand if the shifting domain or department has not been grasped.
8. Modes of Existence / E. Nominalism / 4. Concept Nominalism
Understanding 'is square' is knowing when to apply it, not knowing some object
                        Full Idea: No more need be demanded of 'is square' than that our listener learn when to expect us to apply it to an object and when not; there is no need for the phrase itself to be the name in turn of a separate object of any kind.
                        From: Willard Quine (Identity, Ostension, and Hypostasis [1950], 4)
8. Modes of Existence / E. Nominalism / 6. Mereological Nominalism
'Red' is a single concrete object in space-time; 'red' and 'drop' are parts of a red drop
                        Full Idea: Why not view 'red' as naming a single concrete object extended in space and time? ..To say a drop is red is to say that the one object, the drop, is a spatio-temporal part of the other, red, as a waterfall is part of a river.
                        From: Willard Quine (Identity, Ostension, and Hypostasis [1950], 2)
Red is the largest red thing in the universe
                        Full Idea: Red is the largest red thing in the universe - the scattered total thing whose parts are all the red things.
                        From: Willard Quine (Identity, Ostension, and Hypostasis [1950], 3)
9. Objects / F. Identity among Objects / 1. Concept of Identity
To unite a sequence of ostensions to make one object, a prior concept of identity is needed
                        Full Idea: The concept of identity is central in specifying spatio-temporally broad objects by ostension. Without identity, n acts of ostension merely specify up to n objects. ..But when we affirm identity of object between ostensions, they refer to the same object.
                        From: Willard Quine (Identity, Ostension, and Hypostasis [1950], 1)
                        A reaction: Quine says that there is an induction involved. On the whole, Quine seems to give a better account of identity than Geach or Wiggins can offer.
9. Objects / F. Identity among Objects / 7. Indiscernible Objects
We should just identify any items which are indiscernible within a given discourse
                        Full Idea: We might propound the maxim of the 'identification of indiscernibles': Objects indistinguishable from one another within the terms of a given discourse should be construed as identical for that discourse.
                        From: Willard Quine (Identity, Ostension, and Hypostasis [1950], 2)
                        A reaction: This increasingly strikes me as the correct way to discuss such things. Identity is largely contextual, and two things can be viewed as type-identical for practical purposes (e.g. teaspoons), but distinguished if it is necessary.
18. Thought / D. Concepts / 5. Concepts and Language / b. Concepts are linguistic
Concepts are language
                        Full Idea: Concepts are language.
                        From: Willard Quine (Identity, Ostension, and Hypostasis [1950], 5)
                        A reaction: Hm. This seems to mean that animals and pre-linguistic children have no concepts. I just don't believe that.
18. Thought / E. Abstraction / 1. Abstract Thought
Apply '-ness' or 'class of' to abstract general terms, to get second-level abstract singular terms
                        Full Idea: Applying the operator '-ness' or 'class of' to abstract general terms, we get second-level abstract singular terms.
                        From: Willard Quine (Identity, Ostension, and Hypostasis [1950], 5)
                        A reaction: This is the derivation of abstract concepts by naming classes, rather than by deriving equivalence classes. Any theory which doesn't allow multi-level abstraction is self-evidently hopeless. Quine says Frege and Russell get numbers this way.