Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A nice passage from G.E. Moore

"I am not at all sceptical as to the truth of such propositions as "The earth has existed for many years past." "Many human bodies have each lived for many years upon it," i.e. propositions which assert the existence of material things: on the contrary, I hold that we all know, with certainty, many such propositions to be true. But I am very sceptical as to what, in certain respects, the correct analysis of such propositions is. And this is a matter as to which I think I differ from many philosophers. Many seem to hold that there is no doubt at all as to their analysis, nor, therefore, as to the analysis of the proposition "Material things have existed," in certain respects in which I hold that the analysis of the propositions in question is extremely doubtful; and some of them, as we have seen, while holding that there is no doubt as to their analysis, seem to have doubted whether any such propositions are true. I, on the other hand, while holding that there is no doubt whatever that many such propositions are wholly true, hold also that no philosopher, hitherto, has succeeded in suggesting an analysis of them, as regards certain important points, which comes anywhere near to being certainly true." - G.E. Moore, 1925

Moore with Keynes


  1. The dumbest thing ever written in 20th century philosophy was Moore's "refutation" of idealism by pointing out that he had hands. As though the chief tenet of idealism is that no one has hands!

  2. Not that I'm an expert on the argument - but wasn't the whole point the acknowledgement/assertion independent of the availability of a true proposition?

    In other words, yes idealism is commensurate with the idea that people have hands. But it is not comfortable with the idea that someone would assert to know that as a matter of common sense.


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