(This is the first of several posts that will try to catch up on a few bits of Carnap-related news over the past year or so. Most of you will already know about most of it; these catching-up posts will mainly be of interest to those who, like me, were too busily focused to pay attention to the wider world.)
A few years ago, I mentioned here that there would be an issue of the Monist on Carnap’s metaphilosophy. Quite a number of people responded to the cfp and sent things in; the result was published last October. Thanks go especially to Fraser MacBride, the editor of the Monist, who helped a great deal, not only with general day-to-day guidance, but specifically with the suggestion that I translate a couple of the early Carnap texts I was writing about at the time and include them in the issue, especially since their originals are about to be published in a conference volume edited by Christian Damböck, Günter Sandner, and Meike Werner (Logical Empiricism, Life Reform, and the German Youth Movement, Springer, forthcoming). These translations were Carnap’s first contributions to the Monist.
When I first went about putting the issue together, the centerpiece was to have been a synthesis by Bill Demopoulos of his various writings on Carnap over the previous decade (mostly collected in his Logicism and its Philosophical Legacy, CUP 2013), in which he intended to spell out the general perspective on Carnap implicit in many of those pieces. I was very much looking forward to this (I disagreed with Bill, around the edges, but it was a very productive sort of disagreement) — but it was never written, alas, as Bill had the effrontery to die before he could get down to work on it. Thanks to Fraser (again) and all the contributors for ensuring that despite this devastating blow, the issue still came together amazingly well; details in my introduction. My own contribution to it, as well as Huw Price’s reply, can be found here.
Sorry about the long interruption, but now I can resume with some good news. From today, the long-awaited first volume of Oxford’s 14-volume edition of the Collected Writings of Rudolf Carnap is finally available (from OUP directly and, apparently with some delay, from Amazon.co.uk — the Amazon site in Germany shows a publication date in August, and those in France and the US list it as “temporarily out of stock,” but OUP and Amazon UK deliver to those countries — and presumably others).
It’s been years and years of work, and I’m very glad we finally have something to show for our labors. There are too many people to thank, and I won’t even try here — but see the volume 1 editors’ acknowledgements reproduced below.
For those who haven’t yet seen the propaganda, I will summarize it:
The current issue of Philosophy Now has a little article on Carnap by one Alistair MacFarlane, a Scottish electrical engineer who has held a number of academic administrative posts. To judge by a few of the details he relates about Carnap’s life, he seems to have known or met Carnap personally, though he also commits a surprising number of factual errors. More seriously, he seems completely unaware that after a long period in the doghouse, logical empiricism has attracted some attention again, and a huge literature has accumulated on many aspects of its leading figures, especially Carnap. He acknowledges none of this. The Carnap he presents is the die-hard positivist, verificationist, and reductionist familiar from the old comic-strip versions of philosophical mythology that we fancy ourselves to have overcome. So let this be a warning: the old comic strips may have lost some credibility, but there are still lots of philosophically interested non-philosophers (and perhaps even philosophically interested philosophers) out there to whom this news has not penetrated. And apparently no one in Philosophy Now editorial is aware of it either, or they’d have asked MacFarlane for revisions. Continue reading
Finally! We are now ready to announce officially that the complete published works of Rudolf Carnap, in 14 volumes, first signed by Open Court Publishing Company (of glorious memory) with the Carnap descendants in 2002, will now be published, beginning next year, by Oxford University Press. An overview of the volumes (and other details) is available at the new website for the project, courtesy of Richard Zach. The first volume to appear will, appropriately, be volume 1, sometime (early, I hope) next year. Then there will be three or four per year for the next four to five years; there are bound to be stragglers. Continue reading