W.V. Quine's Biography

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Willard van Orman Quine was born in Akron, Ohio in 1908.

W.V. Quine originally studied mathematics at Oberlin College, Ohio and then continued his studies at Prague, Oxford and Harvard.

From 1948 to 1978 he was Professor of Philosophy at Harvard. Quine was described by Stuart Hampshire as 'the most distinguished living philosopher'.

He published numerous articles and books, the best known being From a Logical Point of view (1953) and Word and Object (1960).

Principally, Quine was a logician, however in the latter part of his career he became increasingly interested in philosophy in a more general way.

When asked by Bryan Magee, 'What do you regard as the central task, or tasks of philosophy?', Quine replied:

"I think of philosophy as concerned with our knowledge of the world and the nature of the world. I think of philosophy as attempting to round out 'the system of the world', as Newton put it. There have been philosophers who have thought of philosophy as somehow separate to science, and as providing a firm basis on which to build science, but this I consider an empty dream. Much of science is firmer than philosophy is, or can ever aspire to be. I think of philosophy as continuous with science, even as a part of science."

Much of Quine's work is not that accessible unless one has had a background in philosophy. Several are concerned with technical contributions to mathematical logic. Exceptions are Philosophy of Logic and as co-author with J.S. Ullian, The Web of Belief.

W.V. Quine died in 2000.

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