|Abstract||1. Analytic Philosophy There is extensive controversy over the correct characterization of analytic philosophy. Some have tried to define it in terms of a set of necessary and sufficient conditions. The result has been the exclusion of most of the philosophers of the twentieth century who lauded the methods of ‘analysis’ (variously conceived) and who deemed themselves analytic philosophers. Others have tried to define it as a family resemblance concept. The result has been the unavoidable inclusion of some of the ancient Greeks. While there is no disputing that some characteristic features of the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle are shared with twentieth-century analytic philosophers, it is doubtful whether this classificatory term, if it is thus explained, does anything more than distinguish ratiocinative, discursive philosophy from the pronouncements of philosophical sages and prophets. It seems to me more fruitful and illuminating to use the term ‘analytic philosophy’ as the name of a specific phase in the history of our subject. Like the Romantic movement, analytic philosophy has numerous precursors. One can find powerful strands of romanticism in the writings of Spencer and Shakespeare – but that does not make them part of the Romantic movement, which was a distinctive phase of European cultural history in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Similarly, the fact that one can find common elements with various phases of analytic philosophy in the writings of Leibniz, Bentham, Bolzano, Mill and Frege, not to mention Plato and Aristotle, does not make them part of the analytic movement. Analytic philosophy, understood as a phase in the history of ideas, originated in Cambridge in the late 1890s with the revolt, by the young Moore and Russell, against the neo-Hegelian Absolute Idealism that had dominated British philosophy in the last third of the nineteenth century. What Moore and Russell shared was a commitment to realism, as opposed to Hegelian idealism, and to analysis, as opposed to Hegelian synthesis..|
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