Review of Christopher Hookway, Quine: Language, Experience, and Reality, Canadian Philosophical Reviews, X/11 (nov. 1990), pp. 449-52. ISSN 0228-491X. CHRISTOPHER HOOKWAY. Quine. Cambridge: Polity Press. Pp. xii + 227. ISBN 0-7456-0239-8.
CHRISTOPHER HOOKWAY's book QUINE tries to provide a clear and comprehensive introduction to Quine's work. It takes as its departure point Quine's paper «Five Milestones of Empiricism», which the author regards as the main key to understanding Quine's own evolution and purpose. Quine's philosophical development would thus run from his early essays supporting holism and leaning towards pragmatism to his later writings where pragmatism seems to be more or less waived while empiricism and holism are kept and physicalism becomes more and more emphasized.
The most regrettable limitation of this book is that it all but ignores Quine's emphasis on degrees. Once or twice the book does quote some of Quine's assertions to that effect, but it goes on taking but little notice of Quine's insistence. Now, if we heed Quine's urgency, we'll realize that many, perhaps most, philosophical questions are matters of degree. The trouble is that Quine deals with them both as matters of degree and yet also as yes/no questions. Classical-logic treatments certainly cannot account for a predicate to be used both as one-place, in categorical non-comparative assertions, and as two-place, in comparative sentences. Moreover, if having a certain property is a matter of degree, to what extent needs a given thing have the property for our statement that it has it to fit the facts, so to speak, i.e. to be truthfully assertable? Quine has not been wholly able to solve that two fold riddle (although he has said something closely connected with it in «What Price Bivalence?»).