Oct 2 Colloquia – Richard Creath: “Carnap and Ontology: Foreign Travel and Domestic Understanding”

Richard Creath (Arizona State University) will be giving his talk on Friday, October 2, 2015 in BUCH A202 at 3pm.

Carnap and Ontology: Foreign Travel and Domestic Understanding

L.P. Hartly once wrote: “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” The past is foreign to many of us, and people have done things differently. But foreign travel, they say, is educational. Perhaps we can learn something we can use. And those of us who are accustomed to “foreign” travel might also learn something from those who stay at home. Or so I argue here. The part of the past that concerns me here is Rudolf Carnap on ontology. And the domestic matters that concern me are the current discussions of metaontology, especially the broadly neo-Carnapian movement and the inevitable backlash.

First, I examine, or at least illustrate, what the historian can learn from the contemporary debate. Thereafter, I investigate features of Carnap’s position that are interesting, or suggestive, or helpful in the context of contemporary discussions. We do not need to agree completely with Carnap in order to learn from him. In this way an interchange between philosophy’s present and its past can be fruitful – in both directions.