Large Selection of Quine’s Correspondence Now Available Online

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A large selection of W. V. O. Quine’s correspondence—4495 pages of communication between Quine and 153 other philosophers—has been made online available at the Virtual Archive of Logical Empiricism (VALEP), a digital humanities initiative based at the Institute Vienna Circle (IVC) which provides an open-source database of digitized materials from and on the history of logical empiricism.

The collection is the result of a collaboration between Christian Damböck (Vienna), who founded VALEP, and Sander Verhaegh (Tilburg), who scanned the documents when doing research for his book Working from Within: The Nature and Development of Quine’s Naturalism (2018).

Screenshot of the VALEP interface

They provide some details about it:

The collection comprises 4495 pages of correspondence between Quine and 153 philosophers and institutions, including J. L. Austin, A. J. Ayer, Isaiah Berlin, Max Black, R. M. Chisholm, Noam Chomsky, Alonzo Church, James B. Conant, Donald Davidson, Grace De Laguna, Umberto Eco, Herbert Feigl, Philipp Frank, Kurt Gödel, C. G. Hempel, Roman Jakobson, David Kaplan, Saul Kripke, Thomas Kuhn, Imre Lakatos, C. I. Lewis, Jan Lukasiewicz, Ruth Barcan Marcus, Joe Margolis, Charles Morris, Ernest Nagel, Robert Nozick, Paul Oppenheim, R. B. Perry, Michael Polanyi, Karl Popper, Hilary Putnam, John Rawls, Hans Reichenbach, Richard Rorty, Bertrand Russell, Gilbert Ryle, Wesley Salmon, Herbert Simon, B. F. Skinner, J. J. C. Smart, P. F. Strawson, Paul Weiss, and A. N. Whitehead. The collection is made available with kind permission of Douglas B. Quine and Houghton Library.

The database contains a large number of letters that illuminate Quine’s philosophy and development, including almost 150 pages of correspondence between Quine and Donald Davidson; one of the only surviving letters from March 1933, when the young Harvard logician spent a month in Prague to visit Carnap; and a voluminous correspondence on set theory and (modal) logic with Alonzo Church.

Quine sketches his plans for a talk on trends in recent philosophy (later published as “Two Dogmas of Empiricism”) in a letter to Grace de Laguna.

They add: “In addition to Quine’s correspondence, the VALEP database contains over 120,000 documents, including large collections of the papers of Rudolf Carnap, Carl Gustav Hempel, Richard Jeffrey, Frank P. Ramsey, Rose Rand, Hans Reichenbach, Wilfrid Sellars, and Wolfgang Stegmüller.”

As I noted in an earlier post about VALEP, its interface takes a little getting used to, and it can take a few moments for results to appear. There are some tips for first-time users here. There is also a video, which is findable by clicking on the arrow next to “Filter”, selecting “Video,” and waiting for links to the videos to appear in the window below.

If you have questions about VALEP and its materials, get in touch with either Professor Damböck or Professor Verhaegh.

Originally appeared on Daily Nous Read More

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