Regarding TSE's
PhD thesis:

TSE didn't allow his dissertation to be published until 1964, one year before
his death. At the time of publication he is recorded as saying something like
"I can no longer pretend that I understand any of it" (I can't find
the exact quote - Rick??).

I've read the dissertation, and I tend to agree with TSE on this one.

While his dissertation on the topic of epistemology (e.g., "what we know and how we
know what we know"), there are many sections (and conclusions) in the dissertation
that I did not expect. To give you a taste of it, let me first note that around
1915 a raging debate was occurring among philosophers about the linguistic meaning
of certain sentences (which TSE wanted to discuss in part of his dissertation).

Bertrand Russell was at the center of one such debate centering around the
seeming innocent sentence, "The present King of France is bald." If
you Google this sentence you'll get LOTS of hits. Here's one from Wikipedia (It's
a bit long, but I need to set the stage for TSE's rebuttal that follows):


From Wikipedia:

France is presently a republic, and has no king. Bertrand
Russell pointed out that this raises a puzzle about the truth value of the
sentence "The present King of France is bald."

The sentence does not seem to be true: if we consider all the bald things, the
present King of France isn't among them, since there is no present King of
France. But if it is false, then one would expect that
the negation of this statement, that is, "It is not the case
that the present King of France is bald," or its logical equivalent,
"The present King of France is not bald," is true. But this sentence
doesn't seem to be true either: the present King of France is no more among the
things that fail to be bald than among the things that are bald. We therefore
seem to have a violation of the Law of Excluded Middle.

Is it meaningless, then? One might suppose so (and some philosophers have)
since "the present King of France" certainly does fail to refer. But
on the other hand, the sentence "The present King of France is bald"
(as well as its negation) seem perfectly intelligible, suggesting that
"the Present King of France" can't be meaningless.

Russell proposed to resolve this puzzle via his theory of descriptions. A
definite description like "the present King of France", he suggested,
isn't a referring expression, as we might naively suppose, but rather an
"incomplete symbol" that
introduces quantificational structure into sentences in which it
occurs. The sentence "the present King of France is bald", for
example, is analyzed as a conjunction of the following
three quantified statements:

1. there is an x such that x is presently King of France

2. for any x and y, if x is presently King of France and y is presently King of
France, then x=y (i.e. there is at most one thing which is presently King of

3. for every x that is presently King of France, x is bald.

More briefly put, the claim is that "The present King of France is
bald" says that some x is such that x is presently King of France, and
that any y is presently King of France only if y = x, and that x is bald.

This is false, since it is not the case that some x is presently
King of France.

The negation of this sentence, i.e. "The present King of France is not
bald", is ambiguous. It could mean one of two things, depending on where
we place the negation 'not'. On one reading, it could mean that there is no one
who is presently King of France and bald. On this disambiguation, the sentence
is true (since there is indeed no x that is presently King of

On a second reading, the negation could be construed as attaching directly to
'bald', so that the sentence means that there is presently a King of France,
but that this King fails to be bald. On this disambiguation, the sentence
is false (since there is no x that is presently King of France).

Thus, whether "the present King of France is not bald" is true or
false depends on how it is interpreted at the level of logical form: if
the negation is construed as taking wide scope it is true,
whereas if the negation is construed as taking narrow scope it is
false. In neither case does it lack a truth value.

So we do not have a failure of the Law of Excluded Middle:
"The present King of France is bald" is false, because there is no
present King of France. The negation of this statement is the one in which
'not' takes wide scope. This statement is true because there does not
exist anything which is presently King of France.


In TSE's thesis, he makes a long argument against this analysis, ending with
the rather startling conclusion, "the 'present King of France' is already
partially real".

Here's the relevant excerpt from TSE's thesis:


. . .  And notice that the contrast is
not at all that between the solid reality and the idea. This is to confuse
denotation with meaning. 'Chimeras do not exist.' This proposition does not
say: Ideas chimeras do not exist. The chimeras to which existence is denied are
not the chimeras 'in my head' but the real chimeras. But surely, it will be
objected, we do not say: Real chimeras are unreal! Yet that is in my opinion,
just what, from the point of view of metaphysics, we do say, and any other
statement would be meaningless. The explanation so far as there is one, is
simply this. The phrase, 'real chimeras' can be taken in two ways: (1) the
chimeras which are actually experienced; (2) chimeras which are 'real'. The
word 'real' has in (1) meaning, and in (2) denotation. On the other hand in
order to have meaning in (1) it must denote something which in experience is
actually judged to be real in sense (2), and in order to have denotation in (2)
must have meaning in actual experience. By substituting alternately we get:

    Chimeras such as are experienced, are
not real. 

    Real chimeras (i.e., such as would
satisfy all the conditions of

    reality) are not experienced  not
met with in experience.

  Here by denying the predication of
denotation of meaning and vice versa we seem to escape contradiction. But the
evasion is only momentary. For the phrase 'chimeras such as are experienced'
denotes real chimeras, and the phrase 'real chimeras' means chimeras which are
actually experienced. Can we say that the non-existent chimeras are real
chimeras in denotation and imaginary chimeras in meaning? We have some idea of
that to which we deny existence, and the idea, we have seen above, is so far as
it is ideal as well the reality which it intends, and we must say similarly of
the denoting phrase, that so far as it denotes it denotes a real object.


   What has been said of the status of
ideas, in a previous chapter, will thus apply to a certain extent to denoting
phrases. In each there is the moment of objectivity, so that it implies its own
fulfillment in reality, as an object of practical experience. Idea and phrase
both denote realities, but the realities which they denote are so far as idea
or phrase denotes, identical with the idea or the phrase. It is a mistake, I
think, to treat the word as something which barely points to the object, a
sign-post which you leave behind on the road. The word 'chimera' or the idea
'chimera' is the beginning of the reality chimera and is absolutely continuous
with it, and the 'present King of France' is already partially real.


-- Tom --

> Date: Mon, 7 Oct 2013 08:21:33 -0600
> From: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: simple questions
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Ken
> Thanks:  so it was primarily epistemological.
> But I am confused by " positivism was a dead end worth exploring"
> Also at the this time Anthropology was in its birth.  French Anthropology was and is almost an American Sociology (interpersonal relations) where American Anthropology was much more structural (how were societies built).  Of course neither excluded the other.  I am thinking that the Anthropology TSE is referring to in the 218 note is primarily a French anthropology and perhaps even more towards the Jungian/Freudian studies of myth.  
> Rick Seddon
> Portales,NM
> [log in to unmask]
> On Oct 7, 2013, at 8:05 AM, Ken Armstrong <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > Rick,
> > 
> > TSE's dissertation was titled Knowledge and Experience in the Philosophy of F. H. Bradley, who as far as I know, was not at Harvard. It did not focus on ethics. Here abbreviated is the table of contents:
> > 
> > I.      On Our Knowledge of Immediate Experience
> > II.     On the Distinction of "Real" and "Ideal"
> > III.    The Psychologist's Treatment of Knowledge
> > IV.     The Epistemologist's Theory of Knowledge
> > V.      The Epistemologist's Theory of Knowledge (continued)
> > VI.    Solipsism
> > VII.   Conclusion
> > 
> > Appendix I   "The Development of Leibniz' Monadism"
> > Appendix II  "Leibniz' Monadism and Bradley's Finite Centres"
> > 
> > Eric Thompson's book T. S. Eliot: The Metaphysical Perspective gives, specifically for people not highly trained in philosophy, a summary explanation of each of the dissertation chapter headings. I've looked at all of the books that consider or interpret the dissertation and believe this is still the best introduction to it.
> > 
> > Eliot said somewhere that
> > 
> > Ken A
> > 
> > 
> > On 10/7/2013 9:33 AM, Richard Seddon wrote:
> >> I think Bradley at Harvard was an Ethicist.   For someone who has read TSE's dissertation was it  primarily ethical?
> >> 
> >> Another question on TSE and Philosophy, did TSE express any opinions on Positivism?
> >> 
> >> Is there s listing of the books used in the Anthropology class TSE took at Harvard?  Who was the professor?
> >>   Rick Seddon
> >> Portales, NM
> >> [log in to unmask]
> >> 
> >