Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Will Someone Please Tell Me What I'm Talking About?
An analytic statement is one true by virtue of its definition: 'I am who I am', 'elephants are animals with trunks' -- these are self-evident.
A synthetic statement is one not true by virtue of definition: 'I am a man 1.82 meters in height', 'Sheba is an elephant in the Atlanta zoo' -- these require evidence.
But, you know, even 'self-evidence' based on definitional grounds requires a knowledge of the world which implies having had empirical dealings with it.
Apparently, I've stumbled on a W.V.O. Quine challenge made against logical positivist arguments which put too much reliance on analytic statements to establish truth and downplayed the role of synthetic statements.
In doing so, Quine was in effect defending the availability of truth founded in fact rather than simply in definition, language, and meaning.
(I have no idea whether this is right, but it sounds good.)