Prolegomena to a sociology of philosophy in the twentieth-century English-speaking world

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 32 (2):151-177 (2002)
Abstract
In the twentieth century, philosophy came to be dominated by the English-speaking world, first Britain and then the United States. Accompanying this development was an unprecedented professionalization and specialization of the discipline, the consequences of which are surveyed and evaluated in this article. The most general result has been a decline in philosophy's normative mission, which roughly corresponds to the increasing pursuit of philosophy in isolation from public life and especially other forms of inquiry, including ultimately its own history. This is how the author explains the increasing tendency, over the past quarter-century, for philosophy to embrace the role of "underlaborer" for the special sciences. Indicative of this attitude is the long-term popularity of Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, which argues that fields reach maturity when they forget their past and focus on highly specialized problems. In conclusion, the author recalls the history of philosophy that, following Kuhn's advice, has caused us to forget, namely, the fate of Neo-Kantianism in the early twentieth century. Key Words: analytic philosophy • normative • positivism • pragmatism • professionalism • underlaborer.
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