Toward Reunion in Philosophy

Toward Reunion in Philosophy

Toward Reunion in Philosophy

Toward Reunion in Philosophy

Excerpt

The collapse of absolute idealism at the turn of the twentieth century coincided with a series of fresh philosophical starts in England and America. Pragmatists and realists were the first to attack the drowsy giants of post-kantianism, preparing the way for the philosophical analysts, the logical positivists, and the linguistic therapists of the second quarter of the century. First came the Anglo-American quartet: William James, John Dewey, Bertrand Russell, and G. E. Moore, and then the Austro-German team of Ludwig Wittgenstein, Moritz Schlick, Rudolf Carnap, and Hans Reichenbach, who followed the lead of Russell and their own Ernst Mach and Gottlob Frege. Some of the dissidents, like Dewey and Charles Peirce before him, adopted the manner and gait of their idealistic opponents, alternately mauling and hugging them in a kind of philosophical wrestling match, while James, Russell, and Moore were more like Lilliputians, using the slings, the arrows, and cutting ropes of logic, short sentences, and colloquial English. Some of them, like James and Dewey, called upon psychology for aid; some of them, like Russell and Frege, came from mathematics; others were as widely separated as Mach and Moore, one a physicist and the other a passionate devotee of common sense with an extraordinary ear for ordinary language. The result was an uneasy alliance against a common enemy, strained by internal tensions and differences that would lead to sectarian squabbles and illuminating controversy.

It is now a half-century since the appearance of Russell's Principles of Mathematics (1903) and almost as long a time since his great collaboration with Whitehead resulted in Principia Mathematica (1910-1913); it is a half-century since the appearance of G. E. Moore's Principia Ethica and Dewey's Studies in Logical Theory . . .

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