Strawson vs. Carnap from a different angle

I still get copies of Open Court books sent to me, for some reason, and I recently received the Library of Living Philosophers volume on Hilary Putnam.  I could have sworn there already was one, but evidently I was wrong.  Like most of these volumes, it’s huge, and I’ll obviously be looking at it for a while, but I have some immediate responses especially to the many Carnap-related remarks in Putnam’s autobiography, which are very interesting (see for instance section XVII, “Becoming a Philosopher: Carnap” in which Putnam attributes his beginning in philosophy to Carnap).  Today I want to focus on a section entitled “The Story of Carnap’s Wire Recorder,” which addresses the very subject I posted on a few days ago, from a different, almost opposite, angle. Continue reading

Putnam anecdote about Carnap

Expands a little on Carnap’s well-known but brief account of his switch from physics to philosophy in Jena (p. 11 of the autobiography in the Schilpp volume).  On other occasions (e.g. in his reply to Ricketts, p. 281 of Reading Putnam), Putnam sometimes argues from the authority of personal acquaintance that some position or another “is just not the Carnap I knew and loved,” but in this case he’s merely telling the story, without editorializing, and it sounds authentic (to me, anyway).  Note the parallel between Carnap’s attitude toward his ponderously authoritative professor and toward the ignorant peasant to whom he compares Esperanto disparagers — both pronounce with portentous confidence on matters of which they know nothing.