Sunday, January 11, 2015

Quine on bunnies

Time for some bunny-fun  with our favoritemost ontological leporiphile -- Mr. Willard Van Orman Quine !!!

The sensible materiality of the rabbit was inessential to the example, since the prime numbers between 10 and 20  sustained the same point.
-- W.V.O.Q., “Existence and Quantification”

HMMmmmm..... !   !!
Point taken;  but the prime numbers abovementioned   are not nearly so cute and furry.

…undetached rabbit-part…
-- W.V.O.Q.,  passim.

Well we would hope so ! ! !

-- W.V.O.Q., Word and Object

You da man !

[For more wholesome Quinefun, click here.]
[If you'd like to see a really big bunny, click here!  It depicts Quine furioso  putting ontological sybarites to flight.]

I took logic from Quine in college.  He is a brilliant and witty writer, but in person -- at least with the undergraduates -- a singularly humorless and ponderous man.  (Randy Allen Harris refers to him, with irrefutable finality, as The Venerable Quine.)  I even suspect he didn't really like bunnies very much himself.  Whether the rabbit parts in question were detached or undetached  was, one suspects, a matter of ontological indifference to the great professor:  for, as Quine has demonstrated, in either case  the animal could be considered, like the world's sum of water, as "a single scattered whole".  Or, phrasing the matter with precision:  An intact rabbit, and a shmushed rabbit, can be safely interchanged salve veritate.]

The illustration above pretty much captures his aspect  as he made his way across the Yard.]


A relatively little-known aspect of the professor’s career, is his attempt to answer Dedekind’s classic question, Was sind und was sollen die Zahlen?, by means of an experiment.   Working over the holidays, in the same monastery garden where Mendel carried out his celebrated work, Quine indulged in bit of bunny husbandry:

You put seven rabbits in a pen, add five more, and  for a while  the total is twelve.
-- W.V.O. Quine, Philosophy of Logic (1970), p. 100

Subsequently, Quine was able to derive the Fibonacci series  using purely biological means.

… thus proving the theorem.

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