Reason and Analysis

Reason and Analysis

Reason and Analysis

Reason and Analysis

Excerpt

This book stands first in a sequence of three volumes whose titles are Reason and Analysis, Reason and Goodness, and Reason and Belief. The second of these volumes has reached print already; the third is still to be completed. The first represents the Carus Lectures given in New York in December 1959, the other two the Gifford Lectures given in 1952–53 at St Andrews.

The auditors of these Carus Lectures were members of the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association. They were a most generous audience. But even they could hardly be expected to sit patiently through five hundred pages of a colleague’s meditations. What was actually delivered was a token offering of three lectures, based on Chapters V, VIII, and IX.

The book is, in the main, a critical study of the analytic philosophy of the last forty years. During that period philosophy has changed with unexampled speed. Indeed the change has been so rapid that even devoted readers of the philosophical journals have had difficulty in keeping up with it; any critic who selects some position for scrutiny is likely to be met with the comment that this position was abandoned months ago, and that he is doing battle with ghosts. This comment will no doubt be repeated about the present work. In one sense it will be quite correct. Some of the theories examined have had their day and ceased to be; others are as certainly on their way out; and I make no pretence of giving the reader the last word from the Magdalen or New College common room. Nor is the book a history of the analytic movement; I am far from knowing enough to write such a history. Why, then, should the book be written or read at all?

There are several reasons. First, any attempt at philosophical revolution by first-rate minds is interesting; the analytic revolt is such an attempt, made by some of the ablest philosophers of the century. Secondly, though this philosophy is a disorderly and sprawling development, I believe that its main theses can be singled out and effectively dealt with by themselves, without considering all their entangling historical alliances. A number of these theses received their best formulation and defence from the logical empiricists or positivists, a school that accordingly bulks large in the text. Thirdly, these theories, particularly those central to positivism, remain very much alive, despite their depreciation and disavowal by many avant garde analysts. Finally, they are important. They are important philosophically because they concern the nature and range . . .

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