Life and Work of Arthur Norman Prior
Last updated: 2018-07-09 12:54:26
The material in this box is organised into 8 folders, and will be described "by folder".
Some of these seem to date from ANP's time as a student at the University of Otago (1932-35). Others have probably been given to Prior by colleagues from the Victoria University at Wellington during Prior's stay as a British Council Visiting lecturer in New Zealand, August-September, 1965. See also Ninth folder/box 10.
All items are typewritten. Most are marked by one of the following signatures (added by hand):
Letters to Prior from:
"In two letters to Prior in September and October 1958 Kripke put forth some very stimulating ideas regarding temporal logic. The September letter contains an early version of the idea of branching time. Kripke suggested that we may consider the present as a point of "rank 1" and future possibilities at the next moment as points of "rank 2", and so forth. This gives rise to a tree structure representing the entire set of possible futures proliferating from the present. In this structure every point determines a subtree consisting of its own present and future... Prior clearly found this view of time interesting, and he further developed the idea of branching time in his later writings...
In his October letter Kripke brought another important question regarding tense logic to Prior's attention. Kripke stated his doubt that tense logic is needed at all for scientific discourse. In Kripke's opinion a tenseless logic might be preferable. Kripke referred to relativistic physics wherein two events may be simultaneous to one observer, but not to another. Thus one observer could truthfully say "It is now the case that A, and it is now the case that B", while another observer could truthfully say "It is now the case that A, and it is not now the case that B, although it will be the case that B." Prior realized the importance of this problem and it seems that he often struggled with it."
(In its section 5 the paper here quoted goes on to deal with Prior's attempted solutions; Chapter 2.7 of [Øhrstrøm & Hasle 1995] is also devoted to this problem.)
The following letters are mainly personal:
This letter also contains a discussion of a light cone problem of special relativity.
--- Per Hasle
- The Lukasiewicz Reduction of Bivalent C-Pure. Marked 18 August, 1956. CAM (C.A. Meredith). See First folder/box 8.
- a copy of 'Extracts from letters on Modal Systems containing S4', cf. Third folder/box 4.
Letters from ANP to:
Letters from the following dates:
19/20 December, 1966, 11 January, 7 March, 24/27 April, 21 May, 18/23/24 October, 1/2 November, 2/4/11/13/27 December, 1967, 23 January, 1968.
The letter of 23.10.67 is a reply to McCall's letter of 19.10.67 (McCall/box 2). It contains Prior's answer to McCall's question "Was it in fact your visit to California in 1965 that sparked off the renaissance in tense-logic?", but unfortunately no answer to the question "...why you abandoned the three-valued approach to tense-logic, and instead took up 'Ockhamist' and 'Peircean' solutions?"
In the main, Prior's letter reads:
Many thanks for the copy of your review [of 1967a]. I'm delighted with your alternative postulates for non-beginning & non-ending; they tie in rather nicely with McTaggart's Nature of Existence §329n. (& Goodman in the Structure of Appearance p. 366. It might be worth supplementing your formal result with these 2 reforms).
Maybe you exaggerate the importance to anyone but myself of my visit to California in 1965, since Cocchiarella, Scott and Lemmon had got most of their results before I went there; on the other hand they hadn't published them (& still haven't), and I dare say I stirred them up a bit and pulled a few things together,
- Thanks for the misprints. But the worst misprint is in the blurb on the cover (& in the advertising material), where "two years" should be ten years. I'm glad you implicitly conceed this in your opening sentence.
.... [various less important remarks on miscellaneous subjects]
Letters to ANP from:
Envelope with letters concerning the Priors' stay in the USA 1965, Collected by David Lewis; including Prior's own CV-"form" for the California tour 1965.
Department of Information Studies
University of Copenhagen
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Department of Communication and Psychology
Department of Communication and Psychology