Analytic philosophy

During the course of the twentieth century, analytic philosophy developed into the dominant philosophical tradition in the English-speaking world. In the last two decades, it has become increasingly influential in the rest of the world, from continental Europe to Latin America and Asia. At the same time there has been deepening interest in the origins and history of analytic philosophy, as analytic philosophers examine the foundations of their tradition and question many of the assumptions of their predecessors. This has led to greater historical self-consciousness among analytic philosophers and more scholarly work on the historical contexts in which analytic philosophy developed. This historical turn in analytic philosophy has been gathering pace since the 1990s, and the present volume is the most comprehensive collection of essays to date on the history of analytic philosophy. It contains state-of-the-art contributions from many of the leading scholars in the field, all of the contributions specially commissioned. The introductory essays discuss the nature and historiography of analytic philosophy, accompanied by a detailed chronology and bibliography. Part One elucidates the origins of analytic philosophy, with special emphasis on the work of Frege, Russell, Moore, and Wittgenstein. Part Two explains the development of analytic philosophy, from Oxford realism and logical positivism to the most recent work in analytic philosophy, and includes essays on ethics, aesthetics, and political philosophy as well as on the areas usually seen as central to analytic philosophy, such as philosophy of language and mind. Part Three explores certain key themes in the history of analytic philosophy.
One of the most important philosophers of recent times, Morton White has spent a career building bridges among the increasingly fragmented worlds of the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. From a Philosophical Point of View is a selection of White's best essays, written over a period of more than sixty years. Together these selections represent the belief that philosophers should reflect not only on mathematics and science but also on other aspects of culture, such as religion, art, history, law, education, and morality.

White's essays cover the full range of his interests: studies in ethics, the theory of knowledge, and metaphysics as well as in the philosophy of culture, the history of pragmatism, and allied currents in social, political, and legal thought. The book also includes pieces on philosophers who have influenced White at different stages of his career, among them William James, John Dewey, G. E. Moore, and W. V. Quine. Throughout, White argues from a holistic standpoint against a sharp epistemological distinction between logical and physical beliefs and also against an equally sharp one between descriptive and normative beliefs.


White maintains that once the philosopher abandons the dogma that the logical analysis of mathematics and physics is the essence of his subject, he frees himself to resume his traditional role as a student of the central institutions of civilization. Philosophers should function not merely as spectators of all time and existence, he argues, but as empirically minded students of culture who try to use some of their ideas for the benefit of society.

Our thought and talk are situated. They do not take place in a vacuum but always in a context, and they always concern an external situation relative to which they are to be evaluated. Since that is so, François Recanati argues, our linguistic and mental representations alike must be assigned two layers of content: the explicit content, or lekton, is relative and perspectival, while the complete content, which is absolute, involves contextual factors in addition to what is explicitly represented. Far from reducing to the context-independent meaning of the sentence-type or, in the psychological realm, to the 'narrow' content of mental representations, the lekton is a level intermediate between context-invariant meaning and full propositional content. Recognition of that intermediate level is the key to a proper understanding of context-dependence in language and thought. Going beyond the usual discussions of indexicality and unarticulated constituents in the philosophy of language, Recanati turns to the philosophy of mind for decisive arguments in favour of his approach. He shows, first, that the lekton is the notion of content we need if we are to properly understand the relations between perception, memory, and the imagination, and second, that the psychological 'mode' is what determines the situation the lekton is relative to. In this framework he provides a detailed account of de se thought and the first person point of view. In the last part of the book, Recanati discusses the special freedom we have, in discourse and thought, to shift the situation of evaluation. He traces that freedom to a special mode - the anaphoric mode - which enables us to go beyond the egocentric stage of pre-human thought.
W. V. Quine is one of the most eminent philosophers alive today. Now in his mid-eighties he has produced a sharp, sprightly book that encapsulates the whole of his philosophical enterprise, including his thinking on all the key components of his epistemological stance--especially the value of logic and mathematics. New readers of Quine may have to go slowly, fathoming for themselves the richness that past readers already know lies between these elegant lines. For the faithful there is much to ponder.

In this short book, based on lectures delivered in Spain in 1990, Quine begins by locating his work historically. He provides a lightning tour of the history of philosophy (particularly the history of epistemology), beginning with Plato and culminating in an appreciative sketch of Carnap's philosophical ambitions and achievements. This leads, in the second chapter, to an introduction to Quine's attempt to naturalize epistemology, which emphasizes his continuities with Carnap rather than the differences between them. The next chapters develop the naturalistic story of the development of science to take account of how our conceptual apparatus is enhanced so that we can view the world as containing re-identifiable objects. Having explained the role of observation sentences in providing a checkpoint for assessing scientific theories, and having despaired of constructing an empirical criterion to determine which sentences are meaningful, Quine in the remaining chapters takes up a variety of important issues about knowledge. He concludes with an extended treatment of his views about reference and meaning and his attitudes toward psychological and modal notions.

The presentation is distinctive, and the many small refinements of detail and formulation will fascinate all who know Quine's philosophy.

Keith Donnellan is one of the major figures in 20th century philosophy of language and mind, a key member of the highly influential group that altered the course of philosophy of language and mind around 1970. An innovative philosopher, Donnellan's primary contributions were published in article form rather than books. This volume presents a highly focused collection of articles by Donnellan, beginning with his 1966 groundbreaking "Reference and Definite Descriptions," historically the first move in the direct reference direction. In the late sixties and early 1970's, the philosophy of language and mind went through a paradigm shift, with the then-dominant Fregean theory being questioned by what has come to be known as "the direct reference turn." Donnellan played a key role in this shift, focusing on the relation of reference--a touchstone in the philosophy of language--and the relation of "thinking about"--a key idea in the philosophy of mind. The debates about the metaphysical and epistemological foundations of direct reference ended up forming the agendas of the philosophies of language and mind. Donnellan's ideas are the heart of such ongoing debates. This volume, which collects his key contributions dating from the late 1960's through the early 1980's alongside an introduction by one of the editors, Joseph Almog, disseminates the work to a new audience and for posterity. This collection will be of interest to philosophers of language and mind, and of contemporary metaphysics and epistemology, as well as of linguistics and cognitive psychology.
Logical empiricism, a program for the study of science that attempted to provide logical analyses of the nature of scientific concepts, the relation between evidence and theory, and the nature of scientific explanation, formed among the famed Vienna and Berlin Circles of the 1920s and '30s and dominated the philosophy of science throughout much of the twentieth century. In recent decades, a "post-positivist" philosophy, deriding empiricism and its claims in light of more recent historical and sociological discoveries, has been the ascendant mode of philosophy and other disciplines in the arts and sciences.

This book features original research that challenges such broad oppositions. In eleven essays, leading scholars from many nations construct a more nuanced understanding of logical empiricism, its history, and development, offering promising implications for current philosophy of science debates.

Tapping rich resources of unpublished material from archives in Haarlem, Konstanz, Pittsburgh, and Vienna, contributors conduct a deep investigation into the origins and development of the Vienna and Berlin Circles. They expose the roots of the philosophy in such varied sources as Cassirer, Poincaire, Husserl, Heidegger, and Wittgenstein. Important connections between the empiricists and other movements--neo-empiricism, British empiricism--are vigorously explored.

Building on these historical studies, a critical reevaluation emerges that shrinks the distance between old and new philosophers of science, between "analytic" and "Continental" philosophy. A number of compelling recent debates, including those involving Kuhn, Feyerabend, Hesse, Glymour, and Hanson, are reopened to show the ways in which logical empiricist theory can still be validly applied.

Logical Empiricism is the result of a remarkable conference, convened in the spirit of reflection and international cooperation, that took place in Florence, Italy, in 1999.
Peter Unger's provocative new book poses a serious challenge to contemporary analytic philosophy, arguing that to its detriment it focuses the predominance of its energy on "empty ideas." In the mid-twentieth century, philosophers generally agreed that, by contrast with science, philosophy should offer no substantial thoughts about the general nature of concrete reality. Leading philosophers were concerned with little more than the semantics of ordinary words. For example: Our word "perceives" differs from our word "believes" in that the first word is used more strictly than the second. While someone may be correct in saying "I believe there's a table before me" whether or not there is a table before her, she will be correct in saying "I perceive there's a table before me" only if there is a table there. Though just a parochial idea, whether or not it is correct does make a difference to how things are with concrete reality. In Unger's terms, it is a concretely substantial idea. Alongside each such parochial substantial idea, there is an analytic or conceptual thought, as with the thought that someone may believe there is a table before her whether or not there is one, but she will perceive there is a table before her only if there is a table there. Empty of import as to how things are with concrete reality, those thoughts are what Unger calls concretely empty ideas. It is widely assumed that, since about 1970, things had changed thanks to the advent of such thoughts as the content externalism championed by Hilary Putnam and Donald Davidson, various essentialist thoughts offered by Saul Kripke, and so on. Against that assumption, Unger argues that, with hardly any exceptions aside from David Lewis's theory of a plurality of concrete worlds, all of these recent offerings are concretely empty ideas. Except when offering parochial ideas, Peter Unger maintains that mainstream philosophy still offers hardly anything beyond concretely empty ideas.
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