Nelson Goodman, fully Henry Nelson Goodman

Nelson
Goodman, fully Henry Nelson Goodman
1906
1998

American Philosopher

Author Quotes

An answer, once found, is dull; and the only remaining interest lies in a further effort to render equally dull what is still obscure enough to be intriguing.

Any effort... to make the obscure obvious is likely to be unappealing, for the penalty of failure is confusion while the reward of success is banality.

Coming to understand a painting or a symphony in an unfamiliar style, to recognize the work of an artist or school, to see or hear in new ways, is as cognitive an achievement as learning to read or write or add.

I am concerned, rather, that there should not be more things dreamt of in my philosophy than there actually are in heaven and earth.

If we are ready to tolerate everything as understood, there is nothing left to explain; while if we sourly refuse to take anything, even tentatively, as clear, no explanation can be given. (Nelson Goodman)

My title ?The Fabrication of Facts,? has the virtue not only of indicating pretty clearly what I am going to discuss but also of irritating those fundamentalists who know very well that facts are found not madder, that facts constitute the one and only real world, and that knowledge consists of believing the facts. These articles of faith so firmly possess most of us, they so bind and blind us, that ?fabrication of fact? has a paradoxical sound. ?Fabrication? has become a synonym for ?falsehood? or ?fiction? as contrasted with ?truth? or ?fact.? Of course, we must distinguish falsehood and fiction from truth and fact; but we cannot, I am sure, do it on ground that fiction is fabricated and fact found.

Rules and particular inferences alike are justified by being brought into agreement with each other. A rule is amended if it yields an inference we are unwilling to accept; an inference is rejected if it violates a rule we are unwilling to amend.

We aim at simplicity and hope for truth.

What intrigues us as a problem, and what will satisfy us as a solution, will depend upon the line we draw between what is already clear and what needs to be clarified.

We make versions, and true versions make worlds.

For if as scientists we seek simplicity, then obviously we try the simplest surviving theory first, and retreat from it only when it proves false. Not this course, but any other, requires explanation. If you want to go somewhere quickly, and several alternate routes are equally likely to be open, no one asks why you take the shortest. The simplest theory is to be chosen not because it is the most likely to be true but because it is scientifically the most rewarding among equally likely alternatives. We aim at simplicity and hope for truth.

Truth cannot be defined or tested by agreement with 'the world'; for not only do truths differ for different worlds but the nature of agreement between a world apart from it is notoriously nebulous.

Nothing whatever can be said in support of the assumption that nature will usually follow the simpler theory... The simplest theory is to be chosen not because it is most likely to be true but because it is scientifically the most rewarding among equally likely alternatives. We aim at simplicity and hope for truth.

Author Picture
First Name
Nelson
Last Name
Goodman, fully Henry Nelson Goodman
Birth Date
1906
Death Date
1998
Bio

American Philosopher