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Quine’s typewriter – and Heidegger’s, too

“Quine … had his 1927 Remington portable modified to handle symbolic logic. Among the characters that he sacrificed was the question mark. “Well, you see, I deal in certainties,” he explained.” [1]

This is from an article by Richard Polt about Heidegger’s philosophical argument against typewriters in light of the discovery of Heidegger’s own typewriter; it was apparently for his assistant to transcribe his handwritten text.

Polt brings a modern sensibility to his Heidegger scholarship. The article itself uses Heideggerian jargon to describe elements of the story of the discovery and authentication of the typewriter; he is poking gentle fun at that jargon. At least I’m pretty sure he is; humor is a rare element in Heideggerian scholarship. But I’m on a mailing list with Richard and over the years have found him to be open-minded and kind, as well as being a top-notch scholar of Heidegger.

Polt is also a certified typewriter nerd.

[1] Polt’s article footnotes this as follows: Willard Van Orman Quine profile in Beacon Hill Paper, May 15, 1996, p. 11, quoted at html. See Mel Andrews, “Quine’s Remington Portable no. 2,” ETCetera: Journal of the Early Typewriter Collectors’ Association 131 (Winter 2020/2021), 19–20.

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One Response to “Quine’s typewriter – and Heidegger’s, too”

  1. Obligatory Monty Python response: The Philosopher’s Song – Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl,

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