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Structure of Appearance, Goodman’s


Daniel Cohnitz


Pages 519 - 522



The Structure of Appearance (1951, short SA) is perhaps Nelson Goodman's main work, although it is less widely known than, for example, Languages of Art (1986). It is, in fact, a heavily revised version of Goodman's Ph.D. thesis, A Study of Qualities (Goodman 1941, short SQ). SA presents a ‘constructional’ system that, just like the constitution system in Rudolf Carnap's Der logische Aufbau der Welt (1928), shows how from a basis of primitive objects and a basic relation between those objects all other objects can be obtained by definitions alone. In SA (and already in SQ) Goodman applies a mereological system, the Calculus of Individuals, which he developed jointly with Henry Leonard (first published in Goodman and Leonard 1940). The use of mereology allows him to avoid certain technical problems that Carnap’s system encounters.




1Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Utrecht University



1 Carnap, R., (1928 [1961]), Der logische Aufbau der Welt; Scheinprobleme in der Philosophie, Hamburg: Meiner.

2 Cohnitz, D., (2009), “The Unity of Goodman’s Thought”, in Ernst, G. et al. (eds.), From Logic to Art: Themes from Nelson Goodman, Berlin: de Gruyter, 33–50.

3 Cohnitz, D.; Rossberg, M., (2006), Nelson Goodman, London: Routledge.

4 Elgin, C. (ed.), 1997, The Philosophy of Nelson Goodman, Volume 1: Nominalism, Constructivism, and Relativism in the Work of Nelson Goodman. New York: Garland.

5 Goodman, N., (1941 [1990]), A Study of Qualities, PhD Thesis, Harvard University, first published New York: Garland.

6 Goodman, N., (1951 [1977]), The Structure of Appearance, third edition, Boston, MA: Reidel.

7 Goodman, N., (1968 [1981]). Languages of Art: An Approach to a Theory of Symbols, second edition, Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill.

8 Rossberg, M., (2009), “Leonard, Goodman, and the Development of the Calculus of Individuals”, in G. Ernst et al., eds. From Logic to Art: Themes from Nelson Goodman, Berlin: de Gruyter, 51–69.

9 Seibt, J. (1997), “The Umbau: From Constitution Theory to Constructional Ontology”, History of Philosophy Quarterly 14 (3): 305-348.

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