Sunday, 4 June 2017

A.D. Woozley on Memory


- Who is that you are playing?

- Nick Drake. He died in the 1970‘s.

- Never heard of him. When you come to your autobiography write 'my father was musically illiterate. Books were his life. He lived in a world of books. Unfortunately he died a raving lunatic.’

- That book there< A.D. Woozley’s Theory of Knowledge : An Introduction pub.1949) looks weighty.

- It is only an introduction. The main thing would be too much for me.



Woozley’s (1912 - 2008) Introduction is a sly thing and owes more to the English habit of understatement than to the import of its content. By the way he was the last surviving member of the group of philosophers who started what became known as Ordinary Language Philosophy.

Woozley was the last surviving member of the original group of seven philosophers whose informal discussions from 1937-39 were the beginnings of Oxford ordinary language philosophy.  There is an account of these original meetings in Isaiah Berlin's *Personal Impressions*, the chapter on J.L. Austin.  Austin and Berlin organized the group; besides Austin, Woozley and Berlin, the members were A.J. Ayer, Stuart Hampshire, Donald Macnabb and Donald MacKinnon.
(from Cora Diamond his widow)

There are two chapters on Memory which might be worth anyone’s consideration. He makes the point that although memory is fallible yet:

All collection of evidence, all theories, depend on memory, as Descartes found to his distress when he was trying to elaborate an error-proof method of attaining knowledge in any sphere

Memory is not regarded as a pramana (valid means of knowledge) in Hindu systems which is odd given that for the orthodox Smirti (remembered i.e. Tradition) is revered next only to Sruti (heard i.e. Scripture).

Memory has that mark of the individually dubitative which the sense of familiarity does not dismiss, in Woozley’s opinion. More anon.

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