Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Favorite Davidson Passage

I like this passage by Donald Davidson:

"...however feeble or faulty our attempts to relate these various basic concepts to each other, these attempts fare better and teach us more, than our efforts to produce correct and revealing definitions of basic concepts...For the most part, the concepts philosophers single out for attention, like truth, knowledge, belief, action, cause, the good and the right, are the most elementary concepts we have, without which (I am inclined to say) we would have no concepts at all. Why then should we expect to be able to reduce these concepts definitionally to other concepts that are simpler?"

Donald Davidson, "The Structure and Content of Truth," Journal of Philosophy 87 (1990), p. 267.

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