What is Holism?December 14, 2020
Analytical truths are based on the relations between ideas (terms). Our understanding of the language is enough for us to understand analytical truths. We don’t have to go and see what’s going on in our experience. On the other hand, when it comes to facts that have a factual content, it is not enough to only understand the language. These types of lines are synthetic. Regardless of what is happening in our sensory experience, we cannot decide whether the statements in question are true or not.
This distinction between analytical and synthetic lines divides the lines into two mutually exclusive groups. So a proposition cannot be both analytical and synthetic. Also, a line is either analytical or synthetic. If a proposition does not express a relation between ideas or a fact, it is meaningless. In this case, all propositions that cannot be included in either group must be regarded as meaningless, including all metaphysical propositions.
Let us now reconsider the two dogmas that Quine spoke about and see more closely how they are mutually related. Let’s take any statement with factual content and call it P. If we move from the logical positivist understanding of meaning, the meaning of the proposition in question will be its method of verification. Suppose we express the propositions about this method of verification with E in the case of a compound proposition. The dogma, which Quine calls empiricism’s second dogma, in this case says that the following proposition is analytically and descriptively correct: P is only E. Because the meaning of P is reduced to E. Now, the P and the E, which contains its meaning, may be verified or falsified based on sense experience. However, no experience is needed to validate the “P if and only E” proposition. Because it is analytical and descriptively correct. Is that so?
Quine questions this. When we look at the P proposition, can we only understand language enable us to analyze it analytically into the E proposition? Quine’s answer to this question is negative. What terms a term is synonymous with, what the definition of a term is cannot be determined without reference to facts. Trying to define analytics in such a language by creating a formal system, leaving aside everyday language, would also be inconclusive. For the rule or rules that will determine which forms of proposition are analytical will have to be decided by us from the outside. In this case, we should be able to decide what is analytical, independent of formal language. This will bring us back to where we started. As a result, it cannot be argued that there are analytical propositions that can only be determined on a semantic basis. Therefore, it is not possible to mention that synthetic propositions can be resolved to propositions that can be verified by direct experience. Both dogmas must be rejected.
Quine thinks our knowledge is based on sensory experience. Just because he rejects empiricism, therefore, does not mean that sense experience is not essential for knowledge. What Quine opposes is the atomic determination of the meanings of propositions. For comparison with sensory experience, individual propositions remain a small unit. According to Quine, only the whole of science can be confronted with experience. Let’s try to understand why this happens.
At this point, Quine’s approach is supported by the underdetermination arguments of the French physicist and philosopher Duhem. Let’s consider the problem with an example. Let’s say we are given a compound that we do not know what is in some content. Let us be asked to determine which elements this substance contains by doing some experiments. We can design some experiments. For example, we can look at whether another reacts with a compound we know (assumed we know), how much heat is released in this reaction, whether there are color changes. We can say that if the temperature in the reaction goes up to this degree and the color of the mixture turns to this, this compound is this. However, we make use of existing physics and chemistry theories in making this assumption. We don’t just go with that. We also assume the theories on which the experimental tools we use are based. For example, in relation to the functioning of the thermometer, expansion, thermodynamics etc. We make use of the arguments of many theories. Therefore, “If the following results are obtained at the end of the test, the relevant compound is this.” When we say, we are testing not just one assumption, but the assumptions of very different theories, and gradually all scientific theories. If the desired temperature and color change occurs at the end of the test, we will judge that our initial assumption is correct. But in doing so, we assume that all other assumptions are correct. If there is no temperature and color change that we want, we cannot easily decide which or which of all the theoretical propositions we initially assumed were actually falsified.
Inside a logical structure