Contemporary Analytic and Linguistic Philosophies

Contemporary Analytic and Linguistic Philosophies

Contemporary Analytic and Linguistic Philosophies

Contemporary Analytic and Linguistic Philosophies

Excerpt

The twentieth century has been referred to as the age of analysis. Throughout this period, a number of philosophical positions have been put forth and defended, all of which are now commonly classified under the heading of analytic philosophy or philosophical analysis or, sometimes, linguistic philosophy. Some of these philosophies were the work of individual thinkers such as G. E. Moore. Others represent the combined efforts of numerous thinkers who formed various groups and came close to being representatives of certain schools: for example, logical positivism. What is analytic philosophy? As we shall see, there is no simple or universally agreed-upon answer to that question. Rather, we find that there are a number of very different philosophical positions that to some extent overlap or show similarities and affinities with one another. Hence, it would be best to speak of (contemporary) analytic philosophies, and to restate our question as: What are analytic philosophies?

Before attempting to answer that question, let us look at what was taking place on the philosophical scene prior to the development of analytic philosophies.

Toward the end of the nineteenth century, the dominant philosophy in England was absolute idealism. To a great extent this was true in the United States as well, although pragmatism had begun to have more influence here than it did in England.

What is (absolute) idealism? Brand Blanshard has given a nice characterization of what might be called its central methodology or procedure.

Put briefly, it was this: start anywhere in experience, develop what is implied in what is before you, and you will find yourself committed, on the principle of the flower in the crannied wall, or of the widening circles in the pool, to an all-comprehensive system in which everything is bound by necessity to everything else. To judge that this is a flower is to use a universal. But the universal, when you attend to it, burgeons. It is necessarily connected through genus and species with a hierarchy about it. Its appearance at this spot and moment is connected spatially . . .

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