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Willard van Orman Quine is Dead

By _cbj in News
Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 05:42:26 PM EST
Tags: Science (all tags)

Willard Quine, the philosopher known to most of us for popularising self-referential sentences, being regularly namechecked by pop science authors, and alluded to in at least one Kuro5hin user's sig, is dead.

Obituary from <3A4BF24B.2033391D@robustai.net>...

BOSTON (AP) - Willard Van Orman Quine, whose theories and writings earned him his own word in the Oxford English Dictionary, died Monday after a brief illness. He was 92.

Quine was known for his study of mathematical logic, set theory and the philosophy of language. His published works include ``Word and Object,'' written in 1960, and a 1990 collection of his essays, ``Quiddities.''

The word, ``Quinean,'' appears in the 1987 supplement to the Oxford English Dictionary. It means ``Of, pertaining to, or characteristic of Willard Van Orman Quine or his theories.''

Quine was the Edgar Pierce Professor Emeritus at Harvard, where he had taught since 1936.

Born June 25, 1908, in Akron, Ohio, Quine graduated from Oberlin College in 1930 and received a doctorate from Harvard in 1932. He started teaching philosophy at Harvard in 1936 and never left, except for four years in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

He wrote his books on a 1927 Remington typewriter, which he modified by replacing characters he didn't use with mathematical fractions.

Once asked why he didn't need the question mark on his typewriter, he replied ``Well, you see, I deal in certainties.''


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Willard van Orman Quine is Dead | 13 comments (8 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
One satisfied curiosity. (3.40 / 5) (#1)
by Farq Q. Fenderson on Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 01:44:42 PM EST

I've always wondered where the term "Quine" came from when referring to a self-listing program. Now I know.

farq will not be coming back
So he died at the right time (1.71 / 14) (#8)
by untrusted user on Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 03:45:03 PM EST

Is that what you're trying to say?

[ Parent ]
Kind of a morbid way of looking at it (3.00 / 2) (#11)
by Mr. Excitement on Sat Dec 30, 2000 at 05:41:55 AM EST

But it still makes sense, in a sort of twisted, perverse way... ugh.

1 141900 Mr. Excitement-Bar-Hum-Mal-Cha died in The Gnomish Mines on level 10 [max 12]. Killed by a bolt of lightning - [129]
[ Parent ]
Interesting links. (4.28 / 7) (#7)
by TheLocust on Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 03:26:29 PM EST

quine - According to the Jargon File

An Unofficial Quine Homepage
.......o- thelocust -o.........
ignorant people speak of people
average people speak of events
great people speak of ideas

"Official" Quine homepage by his son... (4.50 / 10) (#9)
by Speare on Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 03:48:46 PM EST

Sorry for the repeat, but thought this deserved a top-level thread after examining it. Then again, self-reference IS on-topic. :)

Willard van Orman Quine home page by Douglas Boynton Quine [Willard's son].

I just fetched copies of his two best-known works from Amazon.

[ e d @ h a l l e y . c c ]
D'oh (4.60 / 5) (#10)
by fluffy grue on Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 03:51:57 PM EST

Incidentally, I didn't even know he was still alive these days.

At least I can be sure that "is not the name of Quine's heir" is not the name of Quine's heir.

(Oh, and my signature is mostly unchanged since long before K5 even existed. :)
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]

NY Times obit (5.00 / 3) (#12)
by jrh on Sat Dec 30, 2000 at 05:07:04 PM EST

There's a long, excellent obit at the NY Times.


Although a "Quine" is defined in the New Hackers Dictionary as "a program that generates a copy of its own source text as its complete output," Mr. Quine never wrote on a computer, always preferring the 1927 Remington typewriter that he first used for his doctoral thesis. Because that project contained so many special symbols, he had to have the machine adjusted by removing the second period, the second comma and the question mark.

"You don't miss the question mark?" a reporter once asked him.

"Well, you see," he replied, "I deal in certainties."

Quine... (none / 0) (#13)
by slaytanic killer on Tue Jan 02, 2001 at 12:29:51 PM EST

Probably wrote the best intros to modern logic & set theory. Will be missed.

Willard van Orman Quine is Dead | 13 comments (8 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
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