Philosophical Analysis: Its Development between the Two World Wars

Philosophical Analysis: Its Development between the Two World Wars

Philosophical Analysis: Its Development between the Two World Wars

Philosophical Analysis: Its Development between the Two World Wars

Excerpt

Among the philosophers who were most influential in England in the period between the two world wars were the analysts. Their analytic theories were sometimes associated with the metaphysical view which Russell called logical atomism, sometimes with the supposedly anti-metaphysical doctrines of logical positivism, and sometimes, as in the case of G. E. Moore, the analytic practice had no clearly defined dogmatic background at all. But they were united at least in the view that analysis was at least one of the most important tasks of the philosopher; and by analysis they meant something which, whatever precise description of it they chose, at least involved the attempt to rewrite in different and in some way more appropriate terms those statements which they found philosophically puzzling. In the later thirties some analysts had become dissatisfied with this conception of their task and a new view of philosophical method, together with a new philosophical practice, was being evolved; but they were few in number and their ideas had not had time to become widely disseminated or understood when the war broke out.

During the years of the war public philosophizing was practically at a standstill in England, though a few important articles in the new style were published. Yet during these years many analytic philosophers quietly assimilated and developed these new ideas and discarded the old; and when they returned to philosophy after the war they returned to philosophize in the new style without any formal recantation or explanation. The result has been that many people with a good knowledge of the philosophical views and methods current between the wars have found themselves totally unable to understand post-war developments; on the other . . .

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