But Quine was a very decent man. I met him on a number of occasions and he’s always been — he was always extraordinarily mannerly, may I put it that way. I mean, I was never an intimate of his, but he was certainly the most important figure that I’ve met in philosophy. But I think I had overtime met nearly every, I think — I can’t think of any exceptions, nearly every important philosopher in America. I think I can say that.
Certainly, for the first 30 that one might mention, I’m almost sure that I met them all, okay, and had the chance to exchange with them. Now, I knew Nelson Goodman a little, and I must say that I won’t speak ill of the dead, but he’s a — as a friend of mine, who was a very dear of friend of Goodman’s, said — a Polish man who dropped — deliberately drops the ethnic article.
He said, “Nelson is a difficult man.” And I think the truth of the matter is, is this is not inappropriate, because of — that he was deeply jealous of Quine’s success, because they were buddies as graduate students, and they sort of — I don’t know whether they actually ever wrote anything together, but they certainly compared notes in a very friendly and open way, the way young men might well do.
And then Goodman wrote a book, what’s it called? It’s a well known book, Ways of Worldmaking. Well, Quine thought Goodman’s theory was nonsense, and he said so in a review of Goodman’s Ways of Worldmaking, with essentially a single line that there’s really only one world, that the multiplication of worlds, which creates logical paradoxes, since Goodman never actually explained how you know whether you’re speaking about one world or another, or where the worlds come from, they seem to be created by us.
But then you want to know what the rules for doing so are, and Goodman never said. Everyone who had been a buddy of his, I think, has conceded that he omitted what was absolutely essential to his theory. Can you believe that? It’s an extraordinary fact that — I mean all the well-known people, have made gaffes of this kind. They’ve done stunning work, and then it turns out that they missed something extraordinarily elementary.