The Perils of Pollyanna

  • Mark Wilson
Part of the History of Analytic Philosophy book series (History of Analytic Philosophy)


Andre Carus’ (2007a) represents a truly significant work of historical analysis, especially in the skillful way that it sets Carnap’s endeavors against a wider backdrop that Carus dubs ‘the enlightenment ideal of explication.’ To be sure, this is hardly the only philosophical agenda operative in Carnap; his parallel desire to render mathematics ‘analytic’ supplies a salient case in point. Nevertheless, such ‘enlightenment ideals’ are indelibly embroidered within the Carnapian carpet and we can be grateful to Carus (and Howard Stein) for having ably traced these contours for the rest of us to see. I am also flattered that Carus sees my own Wandering Significance (WS) as a recent work falling within these same ‘enlightenment’ traditions. Lacking the benefit of his incisive historical studies, I wasn’t able to conceptualize such themes so broadly when I wrote WS (I might have explained myself better if I had), but I did self-consciously see myself as reviving some old themes within Helmholtz, Mach and other giants within the ‘scientific philosophy tradition.’2 In this note I shall underscore the importance of Carus’ primary themes by discussing several ways in which Carnap himself strikes me as a less than optimal exemplar of his ‘enlightenment ideals.’ As I view matters, it is precisely Carnap’s other ambitions that compromise his own explication of ‘explication.’


Global Theory Series Expression Open Sentence Inferential Procedure Chandler Wobble 
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© Mark Wilson 2012

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  • Mark Wilson

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