The Necessity of Metaphysical Solutions

  • Louis O. Kattsoff


Not the least interesting thing about the beginnings of a revival of metaphysical interest is the source of that renewed interest. When Carnap developed the distinction between the formal and material modes of speech and with that his various formulations of syntactics, it was felt by him and his disciples that the confusions of the metaphysicians had at long last been definitively dispelled by being shown for what they really were — a confusion based on the use of pseudo-object statements because of an unjustified and uncritical application of the material mode of speech. So Carnap said at one time:

“The supposititious sentences of metaphysics, of the philosophy of values, of ethics (in so far as it is treated as a normative discipline and not as a psycho-sociological investigation of facts) are pseudo-sentences; they have no logical content, but are only expressions of feeling which in their turn stimulate feelings and volitional tendencies on the part of the hearer.”1 But more recently Carnap has been driven to reconsider the questions of ontology in connection with the very possibility of the con?struction of languages. Quine too, disturbed already in his Mathematical Logic by the problem of “what there is” in the light of language, reconsidered the situation in a paper of that title. The result was an exchange of views between Carnap and Quine which at the time of this writing still promises to continue.2


Sense Experience Material Mode Semantical Rule Metaphysical Question Logical Content 
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  1. 1.
    R. Carnap, The Logical Syntax of Language ( New York: Harcourt, Brace & Company ), 1937, p. 278.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    W. V. Quine, “What There Is,” Review of Metaphysics, II,5, September, 1948, pp. 21ff.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    L. O. Kattsoff, “Reichenbach’s Treatment of ‘Existence’,” Methodos III, 12, 1951, pp. 275 ff.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    William Kneale, “Is Existence a Predicate?” Readings in Philosophical Analysis,Herbert Feigl & Wilfrid Sellars (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc.), 1949, pp. 29ff.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Wilfrid Sellars, “Realism and the New Way of Words,” Ibid.,p. 426.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Alfred Tarski, “The Semantic Conception of Truth,” Ibid. p. 72.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    A somewhat similar but in part ad hominem argument is given by A. C. Ewing, “Is Metaphysics Impossible?” Analysis,N.S. Vol. VIII, No. 3, January, 1948, pp. 33–38.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    I. M. Copi, Philosophy and Language, Review of Metaphysics, Vol. IV, 3, March, 1951, p. 437.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    W. V. Quine, “On What There Is,” Review of Metaphysics, Vol. II, No. 5, September, 1948, p. 35.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1956

Authors and Affiliations

  • Louis O. Kattsoff
    • 1
  1. 1.University of North CarolinaUSA

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