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Need help regarding prerequisites for studying Quine's 'From a logical point of View'

  1. May 5, 2012 #1
    I currently have with me the book by philosopher W V O Quine - 'From a Logical point of view - 9 logico-philosophical essays'. It contains his famous essays such as 'On what there is' , 'Two Dogmas of Empiricism', etc. I am having trouble understanding the language of it which includes logical concepts such as 'open sentences' , 'bound variables'.

    1) I would like to know the sort of logical background I must have before I can understand it.
    Do I have to read books like 'Principia Mathematica' by Russell or the book on 'Mathematical Logic' by Quine ? I know a bit of set theory, i.e the one which is assumed to be known to read Algebra texts. But the notation and terminology of Quine's book seems to be quite different from that. Can essays contained in the book I refer to in the title be understood without diving too deep in the set theory of 'Principia Mathematica'.

    2)Also what sort of philosophical background is necessary before reading the book I refer to.
    I have read a few of Russell's popular books on philosophy such as 'The Problems of Philosophy' , 'Human Knowledge' , 'Logical Atomism' , etc. And was somewhat able to follow those. I am also faintly aware of traditional philosophy but haven't read entire books such as those by Hume, Kant , etc. Is this enough before reading Quine? Also Quine discusses problems on linguistics such as 'meaning' , 'significance'. Any books where these are discussed in an introductory way ?

    So what I am looking for is books which are a prerequisite for reading a book on analytical philosophy such as 'From a Logical Point of View' - (https://www.amazon.com/From-Logical-Point-View-Logico-Philosophical/dp/0674323513) .

  2. jcsd
  3. May 5, 2012 #2
    Re: Need help regarding prerequisites for studying Quine's 'From a logical point of V

    Since you're somewhat comfortable with the writings of Bertrand Russell, so to learn about things like analytic philosophy and logicism and things like that you can start out with his book "Principles of Mathematics", available for free online here (not to be confused with his three-volume symbolic treatise the Principia Mathematica, which is not really relevant to you). Or you can read his really short book "Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy", available for free online here). If you want a general overview of philosophy of mathematics, I recommend "Philosophy of Mathematics: Selected Readings" by Paul Benacerraf and Hilary Putnam.

    A good resource for logic and philosophy is the "plato.stanford.edu" [Broken]. If you want a solid intro to logic, you can read "Godel's Proof" by Nagel and Newman. If you want an informal and fun exposition of mathematical logic, I suggest "Godel, Escher, Bach" by Douglas Hofstadter (it contains other interesting stuff besides logic, but if you want you can just read the logic portions).

    Tell me if you want more recommendations tailored to your background.

    EDIT: I forgot to mention, you might also want to look into the Gottlob Frege as well, either read his writing directly (his short book "Foundations of Arithmetic") or reading about him (e.g. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/frege-logic/), once you read a bit about logic, because he is really the founder of the analytic philosophy tradition.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  4. May 6, 2012 #3
    Re: Need help regarding prerequisites for studying Quine's 'From a logical point of V

    I will try to arrange the books by Russell and Putnam which you suggest.
    I will return to this thread after I read them or when I have doubts regarding them.
    Also I would like to know about books related to linguistics which approach the problem via analytical philosophy. The book by Quine has lot of discussion over the problem of 'meaning'.

    I will ask for more recommendations as and when I am done with these.
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