The Dialogue of Reason: An Analysis of Analytical Philosophy

By L. Jonathan Cohen | Go to book overview

II
Analysis and Reasoning

§ 6 ANALYSIS AS REASONING ABOUT REASONING

Summary. Analytical philosophy is occupied, at an appropriately general level, and in a great variety of ways, with the reasoned discussion of what can be a reason for what. As such it is a strand in the total history of western philosophy from Socrates onwards rather than just a modern movement. It also tends to promote certain social and cultural values, though without the intellectual impoverishment that results from taking the aim of philosophy as being 'to give meaning and purpose to life'.

WHAT has emerged in §§ 2-3 is that linguistic accounts of analytical philosophy point to techniques that may assist in resolving some of its problems but not all. So the general nature of analytical philosophy cannot be characterized in terms of such accounts. Nor does the psychology of the thinking process seem capable (§ 4) of providing any decisive guidance for metaphilosophy. Where analytical enquiry is concerned with human thought, it is the content of that thought, not the process, that occupies attention.

But on what issues about this content does analytical philosophy explicitly or implicitly concentrate its attention? If we examine seriatim the problems that actually puzzle analytical philosophers we shall find that the problems of analytical philosophy are all normative problems connected in various ways with rationality of judgement, rationality of attitude, rationality of procedure, or rationality of action. Analytical philosophy seeks a reasoned resolution of such problems, and it fills a gap that naturalized epistemology is in principle incapable of filling (§ 5). Not that it ever hypostatizes rationality in the high, Hegelian manner. No analytical philosopher would proclaim, for example, that 'Reason is both substance and infinite power, in itself the infinite material of all natural and spiritual life as well as the infinite form, the actualization of itself as content.'1 Analytical

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1
G. W. F. Hegel, Reason in History (trans. R. S. Hartman), Indianapolis: Bobbs Merrill, 1953, p. 11.

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The Dialogue of Reason: An Analysis of Analytical Philosophy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • I- Introduction: Analysis and Language 1
  • II- Analysis and Reasoning 49
  • III- Analysis and Rationality 149
  • IV- Analysis and Computation 193
  • Index 233
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