The Columbia History of Western Philosophy

By Richard H. Popkin | Go to book overview

8
Twentieth-Century Analytic Philosophy

INTRODUCTION

The history of twentieth-century analytic philosophy is marked by the rapidity with which major movements suddenly appear, flourish, lose their momentum, become senescent, and eventually vanish. Examples include idealism, in its absolutist and subjectist variants, sense-data theory, logical atomism, neutral monism, and logical positivism. There are, of course, exceptions to this pattern. In ontology, various forms of materialism continue to enjoy widespread support, and naturalized epistemology as developed by W. V. O. Quine and expanded by his followers shows no signs of abatement. Indeed, if anything, the tremendous prestige of science has intensified in the twentieth century. Scientism, which P. S. Churchland has defined as the notion that “in the idealized long run, the completed science is a true description of reality: there is no other Truth and no other Reality,” is today widely espoused in epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of language, and philosophy of mind.

Contemporary philosophers have reacted to the impact of science principally in three different ways, two of which are forms of scientism. The more radical of the two asserts that if philosophy has a function, it must be something other than trying to give a true account of the world. A variant of this view holds that philosophy should deal with normative or value questions, while science engages in wholly descriptive activity. A second, less radical reaction is to maintain that philosophy, when done correctly, is just an extension of science. According to Quine, for example, there is a division of labor among scientific investigators—including philosophers— and their tasks and problems, though compatible, are somewhat different. Finally,

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The Columbia History of Western Philosophy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Columbia History of Western Philosophy *
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Introduction xv
  • Contributors xxi
  • The Columbia History of Western Philosophy *
  • 1 - Origins of Western Philosophic Thinking 1
  • 2 - Medieval Islamic and Jewish Philosophy 140
  • 3 - Medieval Christian Philosophy 219
  • 4 - The Renaissance 279
  • 5 - Seventeenth-Century Philosophy 329
  • 6 - Eighteenth-Century Philosophy 422
  • 7 - Nineteenth-Century Philosophy 516
  • 8 - Twentieth-Century Analytic Philosophy 604
  • 9 - Twentieth-Century Continental Philosophy 667
  • Epilogue 755
  • Epilogue - On the History of Philosophy 757
  • Index of Names 779
  • Index of Subject 801
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