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twisted_apples in hobbes_matters

pragmatism versus reference theory in the 1600s

"[In his correspondence with Descartes] Hobbes suggests what he would later assert, namely, that "reasoning is simply the joining together and linking of names." Further, since names are arbitrary labels that humans attach to things, the inferences of reasoning say nothing about things but [only] about the labels applied to them: 'Now, what shall we say if it turns out that reasoning is simply the joining together and linking of names or labels by means of the word "is"? It would follow that the inferences in our reasoning tell us nothing at all about the nature of things, but merely tell us about the labels applied to them; that is, all we can infer is whether or not we are combining the names of things in accordance with the arbitrary conventions which we have laid down in respect of their meaning' (Hobbes). Descartes [replied] that there is no need to focus exclusively on the origin of names. When people reason, they don't link names but the 'things that are signified by the names'." - A. P. Martinich, Hobbes, pp. 9-10

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leviathan_head

June 2008

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