Wednesday, 4 August 2010

W.B. Gallie

Hands up who’s heard of him -- Scottish (in origin) philosopher, 1912-1998. A friend mentioned that he’s rereading an old 1952 Pelican by Gallie, Peirce and Pragmatism, about the 19th century American philosopher C.S. Peirce who devised a semiotics that I find, in so far as I understand it, much more useful that Saussure’s. So I got it too (as usual, second-hand, free via Amazon apart from exorbitant postage) and it’s terrific: the best-written, most intelligent and most helpful account of Peirce I've read (Peirce himself is way too hard for me).

On the Pelican’s back cover it said he’d written a book about his own schooling at Sedburgh School, a public school in north Yorkshire. So I got that too and was immediately delighted with the dust jacket. It’s 1949.

As I’d expected it’s intelligent and well-written (in a literary and not just philosophical way -- good descriptions of scenes, people and situations), but also sensitive and sensible about education, teachers, games, Christian teachers and friendship. A great find.

Incidentally, for those who are into that sort of thing, Peirce according to Gallie was an inferentialist over a century ago, though I don’t recall Brandom mentioning him (see the label Inferentialism on the menu down the side).


Craig said...

His essay "Essentially Contested Concepts" remains a classic.

Pete Medway said...

I didn't know about that, Craig - thank you. I've read the Wikipedia entry and will pursue.