Themes in Contemporary
Analytic Philosophy as
Reflected in the Work of Monty
GARY L. HARDCASTLE
My aim in this talk1 is to present a comprehensive overview of each and every one of the main themes endured by analytic philosophy in the last sixty years or so, and to argue the bold historical claim that the whole lot is well represented—indeed, often best represented—in the work of Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin, collectively and henceforth referred to as “Monty Python.” Since I have all of fifty minutes to make my case, I expect we'll have time for a song at the end. So let's get to it.
Analytic philosophy has spent the last seventy years engaged in two successive revolts. If you didn't know this, don't feel bad— philosophers engaged in revolt look pretty much exactly like philosophers not engaged in revolt. They go to the office, teach introduction to philosophy, make a few phone calls, have office hours, work on a rough draft, and head home. There's no storm-
1 This chapter is the text of a presentation I have given many times at many
places, including prestigious universities and even more prestigious pubs. It's
also the topic of Chapter 20 of this volume, which is another reason to include
it here. When I present this talk I read a bit and then show a clip (there are eight
altogether). For the purposes of this book, though, except for The Bruces'
Philosophers Song (from Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl), I've replaced
the clips themselves with their sources. So, to get the full experience, secure the
clips beforehand and play them as you read. Some of you, however, will be able
to play the clips in your head, such is your fandom. Try to get out more, okay?