Elements of Analytic Philosophy

Elements of Analytic Philosophy

Elements of Analytic Philosophy

Elements of Analytic Philosophy

Excerpt

The main reason why it is difficult to give a straightforward definition of philosophy is that, unlike a special science, philosophy cannot plausibly be defined in terms of a specific subject-matter . The special sciences are capable of such definition: a science is essentially of something. Thus, one commonly refers to biology as the science of life, to mechanics as the science of motion, to psychology as the science of human and animal behavior (or, in the olden days, the science of "mind"), etc. Philosophy does not have a specific subject- matter in this sense, and hence it cannot be enumerated along with the conventionally recognized sciences as--just one more science If by a "subject-matter" we mean a class of concrete phenomena, then philosophy has no subject-matter. However, the term "subject- matter" might be used in a broader sense of "object of thought" or "that which one thinks about." In that sense, obviously, any intellectual discipline must have a subject-matter, and as a first approximation (to be refined in the sequel) the subject-matter of philosophy may be defined as the concepts, methods and presuppositions to be found in any science. Since it is mainly such concepts as are not natives, so to speak of any specific science that engage the philosopher's interest, they might be called "philosophical" concepts. Examples: truth, probability, causality, definition, proof, law, physical object, reality, meaning, necessity. Such concepts are to be distinguished from specific scientific concepts that are presupposed by some sciences but not by all. Examples: acceleration, chemical neutralization, conditioned reflex, market value, cross-fertilization.

On the basis of this distinction between specific and non-specific concepts the sciences can be arranged in a hierarchical order. Such a hierarchy may be constructed by choosing the relation of presup . . .

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