Ever since I abandoned the philosophy of Kant and Hegel, I have sought solutions of philosophical problems by means of analysis, and I remain firmly persuaded, in spite of some modern tendencies to the contrary, that only by analysing is progress possible. (Russell, My Philosophical Development, ch. 1).
Analysis has always been at the heart of philosophical method, but it has been understood and practised in many different ways. Perhaps, in its broadest sense, it might be defined as a process of isolating or working back to what is more fundamental by means of which something, initially taken as given, can be explained or reconstructed. The explanation or reconstruction is often then exhibited in a corresponding process of synthesis. This allows great variation in specific method, however. The aim (...) may be to get back to basics, but there may be all sorts of ways of doing this, each of which might be called ‘analysis’. The dominance of ‘analytic’ philosophy in the Englishspeaking world, and increasingly now in the rest of the world, might suggest that a consensus has formed concerning the role and importance of analysis. This assumes, though, that there is agreement on what ‘analysis’ means, and this is far from clear. On the other hand, Wittgenstein's later critique of analysis in the early (logical atomist) period of analytic philosophy, and Quine's attack on the analytic-synthetic distinction, for example, have led some to claim that we are now in a ‘post-analytic’ age. Such criticisms, however, are only directed at particular conceptions of analysis. If we look at the history of philosophy, and even if we just look at the history of analytic philosophy, we find a rich and extensive repertoire of conceptions of analysis which philosophers have continually drawn upon and reconfigured in different ways. Analytic philosophy is alive and well precisely because of the range of conceptions of analysis that it involves. It may have fragmented into various interlocking subtraditions, but those subtraditions are held together by both their shared history and their methodological interconnections. It is the aim of this article to indicate something of.. (shrink)
One of Frege's most characteristic ideas is his conception of truth-values as objects. On his account (from 1891 onwards), concepts are functions that map objects onto one of the two truth-values, the True and the False. These two truth-values are also seen as objects, an implication of Frege's sharp distinction between objects and functions. Crucial to this account is his use of function-argument analysis, and in this paper I explore the relationship between this use and his introduction of truth-values as (...) objects.In the first section I look at Frege's use of function-argument analysis in his first work, the Begriffsschrift, and stress the importance of the idea that such a use permits alternative analyses. In the second section I examine his early notion of conceptual content, and argue that there is a problem in understanding that notion once alternative analyses are allowed. In the third section I turn to his key 1891 paper, 'Function and Concept', where the idea of truth-values as objects first appears, and consider its motivation. In the concluding section I comment on Frege's general philosophical approach, which allowed objects to be readily 'analyzed out' in transforming one sentence into another. (shrink)
Over the last few years, within analytic philosophy as a whole, there has developed a wider concern with methodological questions, partly as a result of the increasing interest in the foundations - both historical and philosophical - of analytic philosophy, and partly due to the resurgence of metaphysics in reaction to the positivism that dominated major strands in the early analytic movement. In this paper I elucidate the key conceptions of analysis that arose during the formative years of analytic philosophy, (...) focusing, in particular, on the debate over the nature of analysis in the early 1930s, within what was called at the time the 'Cambridge School of Analysis', and the development of Carnap's conception(s) of logical analysis during his critical phase when he was a central figure in the Vienna Circle. In the final section, with this in mind, I revisit the origins of analytic philosophy in the work of Frege, and show how the distinctions I draw can be used in diagnosing some of the tensions that are present in Frege's thought and which have given rise to controversy in the interpretation of Frege. (shrink)
Ray Monk and Anthony Palmer, (eds) Bertrand Russell and the Origins of Analytical Philosophy, Thoemmes Press, Bristol, 1996; pp. xvi + 383; Hans-Johann Glock, (ed.) The Rise of Analytic Philosophy, Blackwell, 1997; pp. xiv + 95; Matthias Schirn, (ed.) Frege: Importance and Legacy, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, 1996; pp. x + 466; Stuart G. Shanker, (ed.) Philosophy of Science, Logic and Mathematics in the Twentieth Century, Routledge History of Philosophy Volume IX, Routledge, 1996; pp. xxxviii + 461; John Blackmore, (ed.) (...) Ludwig Boltzmann: His Later Life and Philosophy, 1900-1906, Kluwer, Dordrecht, 1995; pp. xvi + 266. (shrink)