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From J.J.C. Smart to Arthur N. Prior on 09/10/1951

Editor’s note: The letter is in the Prior archive box 3 at the Bodleian Library in Oxford and has been transcribed and commented on by David Jakobsen with much help from Martin Prior.

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Letter from J.J.C. Smart to A.N. Prior,
October

9
, 1951
1


The University

Adelaide

S. Australia

9
.
10
.51


Dear Arthur
,

Thanks for your letter
–

it provided much pleasant food for thought. I’m sorry to hear of the flu,
though. I hope that is now very much a
thing of the past.

The Ryle bibliography. (I don’t know what Ryle would think if he thought that people were
bibliographying him!) You’ve missed a few things out, surprising as it may seem! I can think of (1)
lecture on John Locke in Christchurch (Oxford!)

published by O.U.P.
Date, I think 1928. But poss.
1932 if it was the tercentenary of Locke’s birth.)
2

(2) “Taking Sides in Philosophy”,
Philosophy

1937.
3

(An attack on people who boast of following such and such a school of philosophy.) (3)
Critical Notic
e of Cornford “Plato and Parmenides”
, Mind 1939 or thereabouts.
4

(This is very
interesting). (4) “Philosophical Arguments”, Inaugural lecture 1944 (O.U.P).
5

(5) Rev
i
ew of
Blanshard
’s “Nature of Thought”, Philosophy 1940.
6

(6)
“
If, So and Because
” in
“Philosophical
Analysis”, edited by Max Black, Cornell University Press.
7

(7) I think there was something on
“About” in the pre
-
war Analysis (by the way. I never see the pre
-
war Analysis. What was
“Conscience v. Moral Convictions” like?) Review of the
Conc
ept of Mind

are legion, but the
following are the most interesting that you haven’t mentioned: Farrell:
Brit. Journal of Psychology
,
1950. J.L. Austin,
Times Literary Supplement
, 1950. Not quite so good: M. Macdonald,
Philosophical Review
. Also D. Mackinnon.
Phil. Quarterly
.
8


About “All facts are relational or
qualitative
“ being analytic. Of course it won’t quite do, because
J. Mackie doesn’t
exactly

say “all f. are q. or r.” But whatever it is that he does say, it is analytic.
(Perhaps!)

I
agree that he admits negative
and general facts. But still, he d
id say something like “all
fs. a
re q. or r.
” in a letter
–

that’s why I took
him up about it. He does not admit existential facts. (A
bit

like Russell, who at any rate say “Soc. exists” is not a fact
about

Socrates, but Ma
ckie not, I
think, so clear headed
about this as Russell.) I’ve been reading Russell’s series in the Monist 1918,
1919, on “The Philosophy of Logical Atomism”
–

I think (a
part from PM) it is the best stuff R. has
written
–

I’
m only sorry I’d never read it before. There are a lot of Sydney like things about facts in
it. Also some not so Sydney like th
ings. I’ve got vague thoughts on [p. 2]

facts arising out of
criticism of R
ussell’s first article in the series, and if they come to anything I’ll let you know what



1

Editor’s note: The letter is in the Prior archive box 3 at the Bodleian Library in Oxford and has been transcribed
and
commented
on
by David Jakobsen with much help from Martin Prior.

2

Editor’s note: Smart
refers

to John Locke: Tercentenary Addresses Delive
red in the Hall at Christ Church, October
1932. Oxford University Press.

3

Editor’s note: Ryle, G., Taking Sides in Philosophy,
Philosophy

Vol. 12, No. 47 (Jul., 1937), pp. 317
-
332

4

Editor’s note: Ryle, G. Review o
f ‘Plato and Parmenides’, by Francis Macdonald Cornford,
Mind
, Volume XLVIII,
Issue 192, 1 October 1939, Pages 536
–
543.

5

Editor’s note: “
Philosophical Arguments
”, delivered as the Inaugural Lecture as Waynflete Professor of Metaphysical
Philosophy. It is
reprinted in Collected Papers, vol. 2, 194
-
211.

6

Editor’s note: Ryle, G., Review of Blanshard’s “Nature of Thought”,
Philosophy

1940. Vol. 15, No. 59 (Jul., 1940),
pp. 324
-
329.

7

Editor’s note: Ryle’s essay in ‘
Philosophical Analysis’
, edited by Max Black
, Cornell University Press, 1950.

8

Editor’s note: D.M. Mackinnon., ‘The Concept of Mind’,
The Philosophical Quarterly
, Vol 1., No. 3, April 1950, pp.
248
-
253.

they are. But probably they won’t come to anything. Anywa
y I want to have a bit of a think
about
them as soon term comes to an end!

I like Mary’s wicked theory. Wicke
d theories are always more fun than respectable ones!


I agree with you about Ryle
on heterologicality. I think he would too. As you say “the real point
is not t
h
at ‘het’ is non
-
philosophical but that it’s applicability can not be determined until after
s
omething else was determined. But of course if it
were

a
philosophical epithet its applicability
could be determined right away. I also agree about your treatment of the class of all classes. I think
it is neater than any
I’ve seen. (Quite how important
the “asymmetrical logical relation” business is,
though, I can’t feel sure.)


The treatment of achievement words is interesting. Of course Ryle likes to talk of “got it” words
rather than achievement words. (You can see without trying to see. You can score

a goal
accidentally, etc.) Also task
–

achievement is a special case of a more general thing: process
-
result.
The leaves float down the stream and
reach

the bridge. Arrival is the result of floating down. But of
cause they are not
trying

to reach anything
! That “fork”


“try to see” is, I thin
k, an interesting and
in fact not a merely verbal one….
9

Best wishes to Mary, and looking forward to more wicked
theories!


Jack




9

Editor’s note: It is difficult to make out what Smart writes here.

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