Origins of Analytical Philosophy

A&C Black

The twentieth century was marked by the triumph of the 'analytic' tradition of philosophy, which remains to this day the dominant mainstream of philosophical thought and teaching. In his landmark reflection and exploration of the origins of analytic philosophy, Michael Dummett vividly explores the roots of that tradition in the writings of such German and Austrian thinkers as Frege, Husserl and Wittgenstein. Disputing the notion of analytic philosophy as an 'Anglo-American' tradition, Dummett finds a shared well-spring in the works of the analytic and phenomenological traditions. Now available in the Bloomsbury Revelations seres, Origins of Analytical Philosophy remains a vital read for anyone interested in the development of twentieth century thought and the history of philosophy.
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About the author

Michael Dummett (1925-2011) was Wykeham Professor of Logic at the University of Oxford, UK. One of the most highly regarded British Philosophers of the post-war era, his work has been an important influence in the fields of logic, metaphysics, the philosophy of mathematics and the philosophy of language.
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Additional Information

Publisher
A&C Black
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Published on
Apr 24, 2014
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Pages
208
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ISBN
9781472528582
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Historiography
Philosophy / General
Philosophy / History & Surveys / Modern
Philosophy / Movements / Analytic
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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In this short, lucid, rich book Michael Dummett sets out his views about some of the deepest questions in philosophy. The fundamental question of metaphysics is: what does reality consist of? To answer this, Dummett holds, it is necessary to say what kinds of fact obtain, and what constitutes their holding good. Facts correspond with true propositions, or true thoughts: when we know which propositions, or thoughts, in general, are true, we shall know what facts there are in general. Dummett considers the relation between metaphysics, our conception of the constitution of reality, and semantics, the theory that explains how statements are determined as true or as false in terms of their composition out of their constituent expressions. He investigates the two concepts on which the bridge that connects semantics to metaphysics rests, meaning and truth, and the role of justification in a theory of meaning. He then examines the special semantic and metaphysical issues that arise with relation to time and tense. On this basis Dummett puts forward his controversial view of reality as indeterminate: there may be no fact of the matter about whether an object does or does not have a given property. We have to relinquish our deep-held realist understanding of language, the illusion that we know what it is for any proposition that we can frame to be true independently of our having any means of recognizing its truth, and accept that truth depends on our capacity to apprehend it. Dummett concludes with a chapter about God.
Philosophy is a discipline that makes no observations, conducts no experiments, and needs no input from experience. It is an armchair subject, requiring only thought. Yet that thought can advance knowledge in unexpected directions, not only through the discovery of new facts but also through the enhancement of what we already know. Philosophy can clarify our vision of the world and provide exciting ways to interpret it.

Of course, philosophy's unified purpose hasn't kept the discipline from splintering into warring camps. Departments all over the world are divided among analytical and continental schools, Heidegger, Hegel, and other major thinkers, challenging the growth of the discipline and obscuring its relevance and intent. Having spent decades teaching in American, Asian, African, and European universities, Michael Dummett has felt firsthand the fractured state of contemporary practice and the urgent need for reconciliation. Setting forth a proposal for renewal and reengagement, Dummett begins with the nature of philosophical inquiry as it has developed for centuries, especially its exceptional openness and perspective-which has, ironically, led to our present crisis. He discusses philosophy in relation to science, religion, morality, language, and meaning and recommends avenues for healing around a renewed investigation of mind, language, and thought. Employing his trademark frankness and accessibility, Dummett asks philosophers to resolve theoretical difference and reclaim the vital work of their practice.

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