Meaning of ANALYTIC PHILOSOPHY in English


also called Linguistic philosophy a movement, dominant in Anglo-U.S. philosophy in the 20th century, distinguished by its method, which has focused upon language and the analysis of the concepts expressed by it. The methods that have dominated British philosophy for most of the 20th century and American philosophy since somewhat more recently have been called Linguistic and Analytic because language and the analysis of the concepts expressed by language have been a central concern. Though Australia and the Scandinavian countries have also contributed to this movement, it has won a very limited following elsewhere. Although there is a unity of outlook in the tradition, individual philosophers and movements within it have differed, often radically, about the goals and methodology of philosophy. A leading figure prior to the mid-20th century, Ludwig Wittgenstein, an Austrian-born Cambridge philosopher, for example, may have been unique in the history of philosophy in having engaged in two periods of profoundly influential philosophical productivity of which the later work was in large part a renunciation and a sustained argument against the earlier. Yet both the early Wittgenstein (represented by his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 1922) and the later (represented by the Philosophical Investigations, 1953) are central examples of Analytic philosophy. Moreover, the aims assigned to the philosophical study of language have often been different. Some philosophers, among them Bertrand Russell and the early Wittgenstein, have thought that the underlying structure of language mirrors that of the worldthat from an analysis of language a philosopher can grasp important truths about reality. This so-called picture theory of language, though influential, is generally repudiated by current Analytic philosophers. Another important dispute concerns whether everyday language is defective, vague, misleading, and even, at times, contradictory. Some Analytic philosophers have thus proposed the construction of an ideal language: precise, free of ambiguity, and clear in structure. The general model for such a language has been symbolic logic, the growth of which in the 20th century has played a central role in Analytic philosophy. An ideal language, it was thought, would resolve many traditional philosophical disputes that have arisen from the misleading structure of natural languages. At the other pole, some philosophers have thought that many philosophic problems have come from paying too little attention to what men say in everyday language about various situations. Despite such disagreements, Analytic philosophers have much in common. Most of them, for example, have concentrated on particular philosophical problems, such as that of induction, or have examined specific concepts, such as those of memory or of personal identity, without attempting to construct any grand metaphysical schemesan attitude that has roots as ancient as those of the Socratic method exemplified in Plato's dialogues. Almost invariably Plato began with specific questions such as What is knowledge? or What is justice? and pursued them in a way that can be viewed, without undue strain, as philosophical analysis in the modern sense. Ideally, a philosophical analysis illuminates some important concept and helps to answer philosophical questions involving the concept. A famous example of such analysis is contained in Bertrand Russell's theory of definite descriptions. In a simple subjectpredicate statement such as Socrates is wise, he said, there seems to be something referred to (Socrates) and something said about it (that he is wise). If, instead of a proper name, however, a definite description is substituted, as in the statement The president of the United States is wise, there is apparently still something referred to and something said about it. But a problem arises when nothing fits the description, as in the statement The present king of France is wise. Though there is apparently nothing for the statement to be about, one nevertheless understands what it says. Consequently, a pre-World War I philosopher, Alexius Meinong, celebrated for his Gegenstandstheorie (theory of objects), felt forced by such examples to distinguish between things that have real existence and things that have some other sort of existence; for such statements could not be understood unless they were about something. In Russell's view, philosophers such as Meinong were misled by surface grammatical form into thinking that such statements are simple subjectpredicate statements. In reality they are complex; in fact, an analysis of the foregoing example shows that the definite description, the present king of France, is not an independent unit in the statement at all. Upon analysis, the statement is a complex conjunction of statements: (1) There is a present king of France; (2) There is at most one present king of France; and (3) If anyone is a present king of France, he is wise. But, more importantly, each of the three components is a general statement and is not about anything or anyone in particular. There is no phrase in the complete analysis equivalent to the present king of France, which shows that the phrase is not an expression, like a proper name, that refers to something as the thing that the whole statement talks about. There is no need, therefore, to make Meinong's distinction between things that have real existence and things that have some other kind of existence. also called Linguistic philosophy a movement, dominant in AngloU.S. philosophy in the mid-20th century, distinguished by its method, which has focussed upon language and the analysis of the concepts expressed in it. Representatives of the Analytic school have tended to hold that the purpose of philosophy is therapeuticto clarify obscurities and confusions, in the expectation that many of the traditional problems of philosophy will thus dissolve. Analytic and Linguistic philosophers have advanced a variety of divergent views. The Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein (18891951), for example, in a career perhaps unique in the history of philosophy, wrote two major works central to the development of Analytic philosophyTractatus Logico-Philosophicus and Philosophical Investigationsthe second of which refuted the first. Analytic philosophy, flourishing between 1945 and 1960, was the successor of the Logical Positivism of the 1930s, which in its turn derived to some extent from the Realism and Pluralism of the British thinkers Bertrand Russell and G.E. Moore, worked out in the decade before 1914. Russell was an inspirer of Positivism (the insistence on a knowledge based on facts verifiable by the methods of empirical sciences); Moore, with his determination to avoid unintelligibility in philosophical discourse and his resistance to beliefs at odds with common sense, was the chief anticipator of the Analytic and Linguistic philosophy of 1945 to 1960. The leading exponents of the movement were Wittgenstein and the British thinkers Gilbert Ryle (190076) and J.L. Austin (191160). Its explicit formulation began with Wittgenstein's return, after a period of withdrawal, to philosophy and Cambridge in 1929. While the brightest young philosophers were becoming committed to the Positivism of the Vienna Circle, in the British form given to it in 1936 in the Language, Truth and Logic of A.J. Ayer, Wittgenstein's new ideas were confined, with a few exceptions, to a close circle of personal disciples in Cambridge. The conquest of philosophically more populous Oxford was signalled in 1946 by a celebrated symposium paper of Austin's on the topic of other minds. Ryle's The Concept of Mind (1949) was the first important book in the new mode. Wittgenstein's earlier, and in many ways different, views were not generally available until his Philosophical Investigations was published posthumously in 1953, to be followed by a long sequence of other writings. In the U.S. his influence was rapidly diffused after 1945 by former pupils teaching at Cornell. The school's decline clearly began in 1960the year of Austin's death and of the publication of Word and Object by the U.S. thinker W.V. Quine, a constructive and highly original development of the Positivism of the 1930s. That was also the epoch of the emergence of the U.S. linguist Noam Chomsky's radical renovation of linguistic science, which must have indirectly helped to undermine the classically based amateurism of the British Analytic philosophers. The starting point of Analytic philosophy is not simply the belief that language is the proper or immediate object of philosophical inquiry. That is the conviction of many philosophers of the past, particularly when they have been academic or professionalized. It is also accepted by those who, taking thought and knowledge to be the prime business of philosophy, realize that all but the most primitive thoughts require linguistic articulation. The distinguishing mark of Analytic philosophy is the thesis that traditional philosophical problems can be solved, or dissolved, by close attention to the manner in which the words employed in stating and discussing them are actually used. The Analytic philosophers agreed in rejecting as arbitrary and absurd the verification principle of their Positivist predecessors, which implied that only utterances affirming matters of empirical or conceptual fact are meaningful. Both the principle's branding as senseless of utterances not in the indicative mood and judgments of value, and the curious accounts it gave of utterances about material things, the minds of others, and the past so as to bring them under the principle by main force, were to Analytic philosophers outrages on common sense. In its place, they argued that language is a social and functional phenomenon, part of the natural life of the human species. It is not an abstract calculus whose essence has been revealed once and for all by modern mathematical logic. It is used in many different ways and for many different purposes. There is no single basis of, or paradigm for, significant speech to which everything must be forcibly reduced if it is not to be ruled out as senseless. Echoing Moore's attachment to the convictions of common sense, the Analytic philosophers took conflict with such convictions to be a sign of conceptual confusion, a misunderstanding of the rules that actually govern the use of words in normal everyday life, and which can be followed perfectly well in practice, but which one is led to ignore in reflective moods by mistaken but seductive analogies (according to Wittgenstein) or mere oversimplification, a one-sided diet of examples (in the words of Austin). From this it follows that the right way to deal with philosophical problems is to bring to light the mistakes about the meaning of words that give rise to them. True philosophy, therefore, is a kind of therapy for conceptually confused intellects. Wittgenstein applied his new conception of language to a large extent to the problem of explaining discourse about mental processesunderstanding, suffering, pain, and intentionality. Ryle's Concept of Mind offered a simplified, perhaps simplistic, version of Wittgenstein's ideas on this subject, which arrived in the end at something close to the behaviourism of most Positivists, but by way of a mass of interesting detail. Austin wrote brilliantly but inconclusively about perception, truth, promising, and responsibility. By his inconclusiveness he succeeded in avoiding Wittgenstein's paradox of propounding the philosophical theory that philosophy should propound no theories. Where Wittgenstein philosophized about language only so far as needed for the therapeutic purpose in hand, the Analytic philosophers of Oxford were well disposed to the study of language for its own sake. Ryle's view of philosophy as conceptual geography suggested the possibility of a comprehensive atlas. Austin, in his last book, How to Do Things with Words (1962), sketched the outlines of a systematic theory of the uses of language. Although Ryle and Austin have passed into history as influences, Wittgenstein remains a living force in contemporary philosophy. Additional reading G.J. Warnock, English Philosophy Since 1900 (1958), is a very readable account that provides coverage of Analytic philosophy. J.O. Urmson, Philosophical Analysis (1956), is especially good on logical atomism and its demise. Bertrand Russell, The Problems of Philosophy (1959), is a nontechnical account of his views just prior to the period of logical atomism. A collection of Russell's papers, Logic and Knowledge, ed. by R.C. Marsh (1956), contains his Lectures on Logical Atomism, together with more technical papers. G.E. Moore, Some Main Problems of Philosophy (1953), gives a good introduction to his methods and philosophical concerns. Two key papers by Moore are A Defence of Common Sense, in Contemporary British Philosophy, Second Series (1925), and Proof of an External World, in Proceedings of the British Academy, 25:273300 (1939). Among anthologies are those of A.J. Ayer (ed.), Logical Positivism (1959), which also includes papers critical of the movement and has an excellent bibliography; Bernard Williams and Alan Montefiore (eds.), British Analytical Philosophy (1966); Richard Rorty (ed.), The Linguistic Turn (1967); J.A. Fodor and J.J. Katz (eds.), The Structure of Language (1964); and Leonard Linsky (ed.), Semantics and the Philosophy of Language (1952). The 1961 translation of Ludwig Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus by D.F. Pears and B.F. McGuiness is superior to the original English version. Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations (1953) is the best known and historically the most influential of the posthumously published works from his later period. A.J. Ayer, Language, Truth and Logic, 2nd ed. (1946), remains the best introduction to Logical Positivism. Gilbert Ryle, The Concept of Mind (1949), is the most famous example of what has been called ordinary language philosophy. J.L. Austin, How To Do Things with Words (1962), contains the most discussed features of his views. W.V.O. Quine, From a Logical Point of View (1953), is a collection of fairly nontechnical essays that provide good examples of the continuing influence of formal logic.

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