Scott Soames’s two volume work Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century1 won the American 2003 Award for Best Professional/Scholarly Book in Philosophy. It has been said to be ‘a marvellous introduction to analytic philosophy’, to deliver much ‘solid information on this dense and difficult subject’, and it has been predicted to become the standard history of twentieth-century analytic philosophy.2 Professor Soames writes clearly and candidly. At the beginning of each volume he delineates his objectives and leitmotivs. He is concerned with (...) the development of analytic philosophy from 1900 to 1975. He aims ‘to explain what the most important analytic philosophers thought and why they thought it’ (I, xi). His method is ‘to provide clear, focused and intense critical examinations of some of the most important and representative works of each major philosopher discussed. ... to provide enough detail to allow one to understand and properly evaluate the main philosophical developments of the period’ (I, xvii). A book with such laudable objectives, which holds out such high promises, and which is predicted to become the standard history of modern analytic philosophy merits careful study and considered judgement. The questions that I shall pose are dictated by the author’s aims and methods. (i) Does Soames provide an illuminating overview of analytic philosophy from 1900 to 1975? (ii) Does he correctly explain what the most important analytic philosophers thought and why they thought it? (iii) Does he select ‘some of the most important and representative works of each major philosopher discussed’? (iv) Does he properly evaluate the main developments of the period? II The broad picture Soames paints is as follows. Analytic philosophy commenced with Moore’s defence of common sense, and was continued by Russell, whose theory of descriptions, conception of analysis, logicism and logical atomism are recounted. He was followed by Wittgenstein, who argued in the Tractatus that philosophical problems arise solely from misunderstandings of language and defended the view that all necessary truths are a priori, analytic, and hence true in virtue of the meanings of words.. (shrink)
Th e con fusion a nd b arren ness o f psycho logy is no t to be e xplain ed b y calling it a “yo ung science”; its state is not comparable with that of physics, for instance, in its beginnings. (Rather with that of certain branches of mathematics. Set theory.) For in psychology there are experimental methods and conceptual confusion. (As in the oth er case, con cep tual co nfusion and m ethod s of pro of.) (...) The existence of the experimental method makes us think we have the means of solving the problems that trouble us; though problem and method pass one another by. (PI p. 232). (shrink)
1. ‘A baffling doctrine, bafflingly presented’ That there are things that cannot be put into words, but which make themselves manifest (TLP 6.522) is a leitmotif running through the whole of the Tractatus. It is heralded in the preface, in which the author summarizes the whole sense of the book in the sentence ‘What can be said at all can be said clearly, and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence’, and it is repeated by the (...) famous concluding remark ‘What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence’. Wittgenstein’s claim is, or at least seems to be, that by the very nature of language, or indeed of any system of representation whatsoever, there are things which cannot be stated or described, things of which one cannot speak, but which are in some sense shown by language. The numerous truths that seemingly cannot be stated, but which are nevertheless apparently asserted in the course of the Tractatus, can be sorted into the following groups: i. The harmony between thought, language and reality. There is (or seems to be) a harmony (or as Wittgenstein later put it, with deliberate Leibnizean allusion, a ‘pre-established harmony’ (BT 189)) between representation and what is represented. This harmony does not consist in the agreement of a true proposition with reality, since there are also false propositions. Rather it consists in the agreement of form between any proposition whatever and the reality it depicts either truly or falsely. This shared form, however, cannot itself be depicted. A picture can depict any reality whose form it has, but it cannot depict its pictorial form — it displays it (TLP 2.171). Propositions show the logical form of reality (TLP 4.12 -. (shrink)
I was amazed to read that Professor Galen Strawson, who took up philosophy in 1972 at Cambridge, was then given to understand that the nine propositions he lists in ‘The depth(s) of the twentieth century’ (2010: 607) were generally considered to be true. I took up philosophy in 1960 in Oxford, and I was not given to understand any such thing. It is not obvious that there was a sea change with regard to these themes in the 12 years between (...) 1960 and 1972. By 1972 I had been teaching at Oxford for 6 years, and I observed no such change – only the lamentable rise of Davidsonian truth-conditional semantics and Dummett’s anti-realist theory of meaning, which progressively undermined and ultimately destroyed a flourishing milieu of first rate analytic philosophy at Oxford. But, I admit, Cambridge is another place. (shrink)
P. M. S. Hacker 1. The poverty of philosophy as a science Throughout its history philosophy has been thought to be a member of a community of intellectual disciplines united by their common pursuit of knowledge. It has sometimes been thought to be the queen of the sciences, at other times merely their under-labourer. But irrespective of its social status, it was held to be a participant in the quest for knowledge – a cognitive discipline. Cognitive disciplines may be a (...) priori or empirical. The distinction between what is a priori and what is empirical is epistemological. It turns, as Frege noted, on the ultimate justification for holding something to be true.1 If the truths which a cognitive discipline attains are warranted neither by observation nor by experiment (nor by inference therefrom), then they are a priori. Otherwise they are empirical. The natural and moral sciences (the Geisteswissenschaften) strive for and attain empirical knowledge.2 The mathematical sciences are a priori. Cognitive disciplines have a distinctive subject matter, concerning which they aim to add to human knowledge. Physics deals with matter, motion, and energy, chemistry with the constitution of stuffs out of elements, biology with the nature of living beings, history with ‘the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind’ (Gibbon), and so forth. The empirical sciences aim not only to discover truths but also to explain the phenomena they study. The natural sciences produce theories (typically with predictive powers) to explain the facts and laws they discover. The moral sciences too aim to explain the phenomena they study – although not to the same extent by way of theory and general laws; and their predictive powers, if any, are more limited. Mathematics and logic strive to produce theorems by means of proofs, and are.. (shrink)
The experimental study of the emotions as pursued by LeDoux and Damasio is argued to be flawed as a consequence of the inadequate conceptual framework inherited from the work of William James. This paper clarifes the conceptual structures necessary for any discussion of the emotions. Emotions are distinguished from appetites and other non-emotional feelings, as well as from agitations and moods. Emotional perturbations are distinguished from emotional attitudes and motives. The causes of an emotion are differentiated from the objects of (...) an emotion, and the objects of an emotion are distinguished into formal and material ones. The links between emotions and reasons for the emotion, for associated beliefs and for action are explored, as well as the connection between emotion and care or concern, and between emotion and fantasy. The behavioural criteria for the ascription of an emotion are clarified. In the light of this conceptual network, Damasio’s theory of the emotions is subjected to critical scrutiny and found wanting. (shrink)
Gordon Baker and I had been colleagues at St John’s for almost ten years when we resolved, in 1976, to undertake the task of writing a commentary on Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations. We had been talking about Wittgenstein since 1969, and when we cooperated in writing a long critical notice on the Philosophical Grammar in 1975 (much of which we were later to repudiate1), we found that working together was mutually instructive, intellectually stimulating and great fun. We thought that we (...) still had much to say about Wittgenstein’s philosophy, and it seemed to us that misinterpretations of passages in the Investigations were so extensive that it would be worth trying to write a detailed analytical commentary. It is difficult to recapture the excitement of those early days in being among the first to work on the microfilms and, subsequently, on the photocopies of Wittgenstein’s Nachlass. We spent many hundreds of hours poring over the typescripts and the often only semi-legible manuscripts, fascinated and privileged to be able to try to follow the development of the thoughts of a great philosophical genius. We talked endlessly about what we had found in Wittgenstein’s manuscripts and typescripts, and debated how it should be understood. The first fruit of our labours was Wittgenstein – Understanding and Meaning (1980). Its guiding idea was to draw attention to the manner in which Wittgenstein linked the concepts of meaning, understanding and explanation, and so to bypass the connections between meaning, truth and truth-conditions that so fascinated philosophers of the 1970s, and to abandon the red-herring of assertion-conditions and anti-realism. After a hiatus of four years, during which time we wrote a controversial book entitled Frege – Logical Excavations and a polemical book on contemporary philosophy of language – Language, Sense.. (shrink)
This major new study by one of the most penetrating and persistent critics of philosophical and scientific orthodoxy, returns to Aristotle in order to examine the salient categories in terms of which we think about ourselves and our nature, and the distinctive forms of explanation we invoke to render ourselves intelligible to ourselves. The culmination of 40 years of thought on the philosophy of mind and the nature of the mankind Written by one of the world’s leading philosophers, the co-author (...) of the monumental 4 volume Analytical Commentary on the Philosophical Investigations (Blackwell Publishing, 1980-2004) Uses broad categories, such as substance, causation, agency and power to examine how we think about ourselves and our nature Platonic and Aristotelian conceptions of human nature are sketched and contrasted Individual chapters clarify and provide an historical overview of a specific concept, then link the concept to ideas contained in other chapters. (shrink)
1. Naturalism Naturalism, it has been said, is the distinctive development in philosophy over the last thirty years. There has been a naturalistic turn away from the a priori methods of traditional philosophy to a conception of philosophy as continuous with natural science. The doctrine has been extensively discussed and has won considerable following in the USA. This is, on the whole, not true of Britain and continental Europe, where the pragmatist tradition never took root, and the temptations of scientism (...) in philosophy were less alluring. Contemporary American naturalism originates in the writings of Quine, the metaphysician of twentieth-century science. With extraordinary panache, he painted a largescale picture of human nature, of language and of the web of belief. I believe that in almost every major respect, it is, like the picture painted by Descartes, the great metaphysician of seventeenth-century science, mistaken. But it evidently appeals to the spirit of the times. So it is worthy of critical examination and careful refutation. I shall argue that the naturalistic turn is a cul-de-sac – a turn that is to be passed by if we are to keep to the highroad of good sense. Naturalism, like so many of Quine’s doctrines, was propounded in response to Carnap. As Quine understood matters, Carnap had been persuaded by Russell’s Our Knowledge of the External World that it is the task of philosophy to demonstrate that our knowledge of the external world is a logical construction out of, and hence can be reduced to, elementary experiences. Quine rejected the reductionism of Carnap’s Logischer Aufbau, and found the idealist basis uncongenial to his own dogmatic realist behaviourism, inspired by Watson and later reinforced by Skinner. The rejection of reductionism and ‘unregenerate realism’, Quine averred, were the sources of his naturalism (FME 72). What exactly was this? We can distinguish in Quine between three different but inter-related programmes for future philosophy: epistemological, ontological and philosophical naturalism. Naturalized epistemology is to displace traditional epistemology, transforming the investigation into ‘an enterprise within natural science’ (NNK 68) – a psychological enterprise of investigating how the ‘input’ of radiation, etc., impinging on the nerve endings of human beings can ‘ultimately’ result in an ‘output’ of our theoretical descriptions of the external world.. (shrink)
1. First person authority: the received explanation Over a wide range of psychological attributes, a mature speaker seems to enjoy a defeasible form of authority on how things are with him. The received explanation of this is epistemic, and rests upon a cognitive assumption. The speaker’s word is a authoritative because when things are thus-and-so with him, then normally he knows that they are. This is held to be because the speaker has direct and privileged access to the contents of (...) his consciousness by means of introspection, conceived as a faculty of inner sense. Like perceptual knowledge, introspective knowledge is held to be direct and non-evidential. Accordingly, the first-person utterances ‘I have a pain’, ‘I believe that p’, ‘I intend to V’ are taken to be descriptions of what is evident to inner sense. Many classical thinkers held such subjective knowledge to be not only immediate, but also infallible and indubitable. The challenge to the received conceptions came from Wittgenstein. He denied the cognitive assumption, arguing that it cannot be said of me at all (except perhaps as a joke) that I know that I am in pain. For what is that supposed to mean — except perhaps that I am in pain?1 If it makes no sense to say that one knows that one is in pain, then the epistemic explanation is a non-starter, since it explains the special authoritative status of a person’s avowal of pain by reference to the putative fact that the subject of pain knows, normally knows, or cannot but know, that he is in pain when he is. It is important to note that Wittgenstein did not mechanically generalize the case of pain across the whole domain of firstperson utterances. The case of pain constitutes only one pole of a range of such utterances. Avowals and averrals of belief and intention approximate the other pole, and require independent analysis and grammatical description. (shrink)
The paper is a tribute to the late Stuart Hampshire's investigations of the ramifying role of intention in our conceptual scheme. It surveys the central argument of Thought and Action and the third chapter of Freedom of the Individual. Emphasis is placed upon Hampshire's constructive account of human agency and consequent description of the manner in which perception and action are interwoven. His analysis of the character of intentional action, self-knowledge and autonomy is described. Various lacunae in Hampshire's account are (...) identified and an attempt is made to fill them in in a manner consistent with Hampshire's insights. (shrink)
James Conant, a proponent of the ‘New American Wittgenstein’, has argued that the standard inter- pretation of Wittgenstein is wholly mistaken in respect of Wittgenstein’s critique of metaphysics and the attendant conception of nonsense. The standard interpretation, Conant holds, misascribes to Wittgenstein Carnapian views on the illegitimacy of metaphysical utterances, on logical syntax and grammar, and on the nature of nonsense. Against this account, I argue that (i) Carnap is misrepresented; (ii) the so-called standard interpretation (in so far as I (...) have contributed to it) is misrepresented; (iii) Wittgenstein’s views, early and late, are misrepresented. I clarify Wittgen- stein’s conception of logical syntax and of the nonsense that results from transgressing it. (shrink)
The concept of consciousness has been the source of much philosophical, cognitive scientific and neuroscientific discussion for the past two decades. Many scientists, as well as philosophers, argue that at the moment we are almost completely in the dark about the nature of consciousness. Stuart Sutherland, in a much quoted remark, wrote that.
P.M.S. Hacker 1. _The problems of Intentionality_ The problems of intentionality have exercised philosophers since the dawn of their subject. In the last century they were brought afresh into the limelight by Brentano. Famously he remarked that.
Focusing on diverse aspects of Wittgenstein's philosophy, this volume not only provides a valuable introduction, but also investigates connections between the philosophy of Wittgenstein, other philosophers--in particular, Frege, Frazer, Carnap, and Strawson--and philosophical trends. It also illuminates very different aspects of Wittgenstein's thought, probing into the controversies it stimulates, as well as into its influence.
1. The Tractatus doctrine of saying and showing In a letter to Russell dated 19.4.1919, written shortly after he had finished the Tractatus, Wittgenstein told Russell that the main contention of the book, to which all else, including the account of logic, is subsidiary, ‘is the theory of what can be expressed (gesagt) by prop[osition]s -- i.e. by language -- (and, which comes to the same, what can be thought) and what cannot be expressed by prop[osition]s, but only shown (gezeigt); (...) which I believe is the cardinal problem of philosophy’ (CL 68). This was emphasized in both preface and conclusion of the book. The preface observes that the whole sense of the book can be summed up in the following words: ‘what can be said at all can be said clearly, and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence’ (TLP p.3). The conclusion of the book (TLP 7) simply repeats this. The preceding three remarks, however, are noteworthy. They make three claims. First, ‘There are, indeed, things that cannot be put into words. They make themselves manifest. They are what is mystical’ (TLP 6.522). This reiterates the leitmotif of the book, namely that there are things that cannot, by the very nature of representation, be said. But though they cannot be said, they are shown by features of the relevant system of representation. Secondly, the correct method in philosophy would really be to say nothing except what can be said, i.e. empirical propositions that have nothing to do with philosophy, and then, when someone wanted to say something metaphysical, to demonstrate to him that he had failed to give meaning to certain signs in his propositions (TLP 6.53). This method, of course, is not the method that has been followed throughout the book, which consists almost exclusively of modal assertions concerning what must, can or cannot be thus and so in reality, in language and in the relation between language and reality.. (shrink)
Philosophy is one of the most intimidating and difficult of disciplines, as any of its students can attest. This book is an important entry in a distinctive new series from Routledge: The Great Philosophers . Breaking down obstacles to understanding the ideas of history's greatest thinkers, these brief, accessible, and affordable volumes offer essential introductions to the great philosophers of the Western tradition from Plato to Wittgenstein. In just 64 pages, each author, a specialist on his subject, places the philosopher (...) and his ideas into historical perspective. Each volume explains, in simple terms, the basic concepts, enriching the narrative through the effective use of biographical detail. And instead of attempting to explain the philosopher's entire intellectual history, which can be daunting, this series takes one central theme in each philosopher's work, using it to unfold the philosopher's thoughts. (shrink)
Davidson has attempted to integrate externalism into his account of meaning and understanding. He contends that what words mean is fixed in part by the circumstances in which they were learnt, in which the basic connection between words and things is established. This connection is allegedly established by causal interaction between people and the world. Words and sentences derive their meanings from the objects and circumstances in which they were learnt, which.
This essential introduction to the philosopher and his thought, combines passages from Wittgenstein with detailed interpretation. Hacker leads us into a world of philosophical investigation in which "to smell a rat is ever so much easier than to trap it". Wittgenstein defined humans as language-using creatures. The role of philosophy is to ask questions which reveal the limits and nature of language. Taking the expression, description and observation of pain as examples, Hacker explores the ingenuity with which Wittgenstein identified the (...) rules and set the limits of language. (shrink)
Since the first publication of Insight and Illusion in l972, a wealth of Wittgenstein's writings have become accessible. Accordingly, in this edition Professor Hacker has rewritten six of his eleven original chapters and revised the others to incorporate the new abundant material. Insight and Illusion now fully clarifies the historical backgrounds of Wittgenstein's highly different masterpieces, the Tractatus and the Investigations, and traces the evolution of Wittgenstein's thought. Hacker explains all of Wittgenstein's writings in detail, focusing on his critique of (...) metaphysics, his famous "private language argument," and his account of self-consciousness. (shrink)
Hacker, P. M. S. Hart's philosophy of law.--Baker, G. P. Defeasibility and meaning.--Dworkin, R. M. No right answer?-Lucas, J. R. The phenomenon of law.--Honoré, A. M. Real laws.--Summers, R. S. Naïve instrumentalism and the law.--Marshall, G. Positivism, adjudication, and democracy.--Cross, R. The House of Lords and the rules of precedent.--Kenny, A. J. P. Intention and mens rea in murder.--Mackie, J. L. The grounds of responsibility.--MacCormick, D. N. Rights in legislation.--Raz, J. Promises and obligations.--Foot, P. R. Approval and disapproval.--Finnis, J. M. (...) Scepticism, self-refutation, and the good of truth.--Barry, B. M. Justice between generations.--Feinberg, J. Harm and self-interest. (shrink)
Wittgenstein's critical and constructive analysis of ostensive definition is examined. Nine fundamental logico?metaphysical errors stemming from misapprehension of ostensive definition are identified, most of which occur in the Tractatus. The Fregean holistic conception of meaning is applied to the special case of ostension. Ostensive definition is one rule among others. It is not unequivocal, it does not link language with reality, nor does it determine its own application. The role of samples in ostensive definition of perceptual properties is analysed, and (...) the affinities between samples and Tractarian simples stressed. Samples belong to the method of representation, and not to the substance of reality. The constructive analysis is brought to bear upon the previously identified errors. Finally, a further range of problems concerning ostensive definition is raised. (shrink)
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.. (shrink)