Professor Adolf Grünbaum May 6th 1983 President, APA Eastern Division, 2510 Cathedral of Learning, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Pa. 15260/USA Dear Adolf:
Please forgive my having addressed you formally in my last letter. I am not well versed in etiquette and did not want, while complaining about your conduct in your Presidential Address, to presume upon our personal relations. I stand corrected and am grateful. So here we are, back on a first name basis, calling each other names.
You remind me that the thinkers you were criticizing in your Address are all irrationalists who influence many of our colleagues and are respected by many more of our colleagues who are not familiar with their writings so that your critique was 'both substantially germane and sociologically imperative'. I have said in my letter of complaint by the Chairman of the Board of APA, Professor Ruth Barcan Marcus, that these are not in any way the objects of my complaint. Now you ascribe to me the view that the Presidential Address should not be polemical.
Why do you ascribe to me a view I reject so explicitly and emphatically? What I said in my complaint is that a Presidential Address should be unifying rather than contemptuous of a part of its audience. You ascribe to me the view that a Presidential Address should be unifying 'rather than polemical'. Is it that you identify all criticism with contempt? Had you said and elaborated in your address your reason for your criticism, and had you avoided your expressions and tone of contempt, you would have had more success in executing your 'sociologically imperative' task, and you would have then also won my applause. Your quotation of my spontaneous response from the floor to your calling the physics of the targets of your criticism 'antediluvian' or 'stone-age' is inexact. It was, 'that goes a bit too far'. I do not think you will deny that these expressions are exaggerations which are usually taken to express contempt. Your reminding me that many of our colleagues who were present admire these people may lead one to conclude that they felt slighted. I do not think making them feel that way is 'sociologically imperative' or commendable.
The Freudian character of your analysis of my motive has its own irony, which you have noted, your Address being a grand critique of Freud. To use this against you would be ad hominem since I am more Freudian than you - but not in the same way: I assume that your motives are honorable. I would like to assume that of us all, but you ascribe to me ill motives and no one is a competent judge of one's own motives. So let my motives be what they are; let my complaint stand as valid: your presidential address was unnecessarily contemptuous.
You are right, though, observing that I have another complaint about another insult of yours. But that insult, prompted by my published report of Hempel's view of Kuhn, was to me personally, and made in a private letter. Now that you mention it, it will correct your statement. That old letter of yours contained mere insult: no criticism and, as far as I remember - I do not have your letter here with me - no challengedespite what you now say. I do not claim authority for my report, which, anyway, was extremely brief, but I do not see in it any cause for insult either. In my reply to you I was not evasive, despite what you say, but clear and to the point: I demand an apology. In your reply you offered a conditional apology. This I could not accept. Consequently, as you accusingly observe, I do not seek your company. This is how things stand until you properly apologize: we need not be enemies and I hope we remain on good terms, but I prefer not to seek the company of people who insult me with no cause.
You tell me now, speaking as a witness, that my very brief report on Hempel's view of Kuhn has distressed him. This, despite what you say, is news to me. Please permit me to check this with Hempel, as is only proper, and attempt to make proper amends as his response might invite. It may turn out that I was in error about him; it may turn out that though not in error I unnecessarily caused him pain. I am unlucky in this respect. My old review of Minnesota Studies, Volume II, by which I still stand, has caused Feigl much pain, and he bitterly complained to Popper about it. For years I tried to do all I could to mitigate, yet he demanded no less than that I change my views on the value of his own contribution to philosophy. My highly respectful review of Objective Knowledge of my beloved teacher Karl Popper led to worse results, and he meets all my offers of reconciliation with disdain. Still, one has to try. Also I hope to have more success with Hempel (if I did hurt him). My image of Hempel is different: I think he is more philosophical that Feigl and Popper. Your refusal to forgive me for him, even your explanation of his distress as caused by my report on his view being 'very unfair and sloppy', do not tally with my picture of him as a person with a highly philosophically temperament. I do hope you permit me to check this with him.
Your comments about my person and about my history are not relevant to my complaint, since motives are not relevant to validity. But I do not wish to endorse your statement about my notoriety, nor to discuss your share in the making of my public image, such as it is. Allow me to confess, in all humility, that I have no memory of even having met you in Bloomington nor of having been 'gratuitously wounding' or 'personally derisive or abusive' there. We all fail to live up to our own standards, and so I will not deny your charges; I regret that having no details I must suspend judgement. I only hope you permit me, as long as we are at it, to say that I read the statement you quote me as having made to you in Indiana in passing conversation as something else: I always try to train my students not to take criticism as wounding, following Popper's teaching that criticism is an expression of respect not to waste on unworthy targets. This is, incidently, why I said to Professor Barcan Marcus that her mention of the regrettable absence of contemporary criticism of Mein Kampf opens an avenue to much discussion. You refer to my response to her on this as a 'well controlled, but philistine indignation'. It serves me right. I should have written her a longish letter explaining why I think standards of criticism in national politics differ from standards of criticism within a voluntary association, especially a learned society, and perhaps add a reference to Hume and Smith and their observation that one cannot easily leave one's own country so that politics is not purely voluntary.
In addition to calling me a philistine who turns your stomach, you call me a hypocrite and declare my complaint about your misconduct an ill-willed sanctimonious personal vendetta. I will not reciprocate and say my alleged insulting conduct is no excuse for yours, and yours, but not mine, is a matter of the official record of the APA. Your gracious readiness to forgive me most, but not all of my wickedness, however, prompts me to say we are engaged in a correspondence on a public matter concerning the public interest, between the President and a member of a learned society, albeit on a first name basis. I greatly appreciate your good will and expressed readiness to be completely candid with me (despite your view of me as so very wicked) and since your abusive epithets are parts of your expressed effort to reach me, I accept your letter ofApril 28, 1983, as it stands, appreciate the effort, wish to assure you both personally and formally that you have indeed reached me, reject as uncalled for both your readiness to forgive me one thing and your refusal to forgive me another, stand on my old personal demand for an apology, stand on my public formal complaint to the APA, request your permission to write Hempel on the matter you have now raised, and salute you across the ocean,
Sincerely, Joe bc:Ruth Marcus Philip Quinn Robert S. Cohen