Willard van Orman Quine - Guest Book Volume 3. Each guest book item includes initials of the sender, the date of the message, the message text, and a summary of my response (if any) to the writer in bold text. You may link back to my home page or to any of the sites in my Family Web Site Ring:
I'm organizing a symposium at Michigan this March in his honor, and I'd like to retell a story he told me. He has a facetious quotation in a book that collects famous intellectuals' thoughts on the meaning of life. I wonder if anyone has a reference to this book? Please email me at 'spetey (at) umich.edu'if you know!Thanks, Steve from Steve Petersen --- Email: spetey (at) umich.edu
"Life is what the least of us make most of us feel the least of us make the most of." -- W. V. O. Quine
This was the quote that Linda wrote asking about last June. Meanwhile, Steve recently wrote seeking a source for "Life is a burgeoning, life is a quickening."
Today I found variations of both quotes together in one of many handwritten notebooks of musings by my father. While this volume was started it 1985, it references a letter that he apparently wrote in 1946.
"Life is agid, life is fulgid. Life is what the least of us make most of us feel the least of us make the most of. Life is a burgeoning, a quickening of the dim primordial urge in the murky wastes of time." (from a letter of Nov. 1946 to one ???ald)"
[the name is very hard to read, perhaps Eirald, Gerald, Eurald - in the index to his autobiography the only ???ald is Gerald Holton; this is page 36 of the 1985 notebook]
I still don't know when and where it was published nor in what form. Do these clues help answer the question? If not, they at least serve to provide a broader context ...
Regards - from Doug (creator of the WVQ home page and obituary page) - Web Page: www.wvquine.org/wvq-obit.html
On Linguistic Creation by Steven H. Cullinane on June 25, 1999
Preface of February 28, 2001:
This note was written in anger at the damned nonsense of Jacques Derrida and other postmodernists, and with contempt for the damned nonsense promulgated by many religious Christians and Jews. It turns out to have been written on the birthday of the recently deceased philosopher W. V. Quine, so it may serve as a sort of memorial to him.
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacobs
"This illustration shows a... perfect square."
-- R. M. Abraham, Diversions and Pastimes (Dover, 1964)
"F = ma." -- Isaac Newton
"December 25, 1958 -- from Mary"
-- Dedication on a copy of Naming-Day in Eden by N. J. Jacobs (Macmillan, 1958)
"God... asked Adam to name Him...
Adam, quoting Scripture, complied: 25."
-- Scripture  above, page 25
"The Devil, unlike the angels, was at home in the world of phenomena. He knew how to combine pure concepts with empirical intuitions... which is the basic principle of linguistic creation." -- 
"Such is the square dance of Numbers."
-- Jacques Derrida, 1972
"It all adds up."
-- Saul Bellow, 1994
Meditations added on Ash Wednesday, February 28, 2001:
Primary meditation, on Quine's salvation by works --
The above was written on the 91st birthday of Willard van Orman Quine, mathematician and philosopher. His life's work included the education of many, many Harvard students in the fundamentals of logic.
Quine's grave defects as a philosopher -- a naive nominalism, coupled with blind devotion to the religion of Scientism -- are outweighed by his virtues as a teacher of elementary logic and as a prose stylist.
As Saint Bonaventure notes, logic itself (derived from logos) symbolizes Christ within the trinity of Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric (also known as the trivium of the seven liberal arts). Quine was also no slouch at grammar and rhetoric.
From his obituary, written by his son, on the Quine home page:
"Professor Quine was born June 25, 1908 (anti-Christmas) and died December 25, 2000 (Christmas)."
If there is such a thing as an anti-Christ, it had best beware of those taught by Quine.
Secondary meditation, on Quine's salvation by grace --
"Bingo!" -- Roman Catholic religious exclamation