On saying that

In searching for ways to fasten truth and meaning to the structure of sentences, Donald Davidson says that,

One trouble with such sentences [i.e. ‘Galileo said that the earth moves.’ and ‘Scott said that Venus is an inferior planet.’] is that we do not know their logical form. And to admit this is to admit that, whatever else we may know about them, we do not know the first thing.

That we do not know “the first thing,” for Davidson, is a deficiency, a lack; a seemingly undesirable position from which only wrong moves can be played. Isn’t this, however, the achievement we strive for?

Twists and turns make a story story. The less that is known upfront and outright, and the more “the first thing” can be obscured by you, writer, then isn’t it the case that your work pulls deeper?

On Saying That, Synthese 19 (1968-69) 130-146.

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