Frederique Janssen-Lauret
University of Manchester
Susan Stebbing’s work on incomplete symbols and analysis was instrumental in clarifying, sharpening, and improving the project of logical constructions which was pivotal to early analytic philosophy. She dispelled use-mention confusions by restricting the term ‘incomplete symbol’ to expressions eliminable through analysis, rather than those expressions’ purported referents, and distinguished linguistic analysis from analysis of facts. In this paper I explore Stebbing’s role in analytic philosophy’s development from anti-holism, presupposing that analysis terminates in simples, to the more holist or foundherentist analytic philosophy of the later 20th century. I read Stebbing as a transitional figure who made room for more holist analytic movements, e.g., applications of incomplete symbol theory to Quinean ontological commitment. Stebbing, I argue, is part of a historical narrative which starts with the holism of Bradley, an early influence on her, to which Moore and Russell’s logical analysis was a response. They countered Bradley’s holist reservations about facts with the view that the world is built up out of individually knowable simples. Stebbing, a more subtle and sympathetic reader of the British idealists, defends analysis, but with important refinements and caveats which prepared the way for a return to foundherentism and holism within analytic philosophy.
Keywords metaphysics  analysis  ontology  foundherentism  Russell  Stebbing
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.15173/jhap.v5i2.2928
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Two Dogmas of Empiricism.W. Quine - 1951 - [Longmans, Green].
On Denoting.Bertrand Russell - 1905 - Mind 14 (56):479-493.
On Denoting.Bertrand Russell - 2005 - Mind 114 (456):873 - 887.

View all 28 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Susan Stebbing’s Logical Interventionism.Alexander X. Douglas & Jonathan Nassim - 2021 - History and Philosophy of Logic 42 (2):101-117.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Susan Stebbing's Criticism of Wittgenstein's Tractatus.Nikolay Milkov - 2003 - Vienna Circle Institute Yearbook 10:351-63.
Philosophical Studies.L. Susan Stebbing (ed.) - 1948 - London: G. Allen & Unwin.
Russell on Incomplete Symbols.Bryan Pickel - 2013 - Philosophy Compass 8 (10):909-923.
Urmson on Russell's Incomplete Symbols.R. K. Perkins - 1972 - Analysis 32 (6):200 - 203.
IV.—Some Puzzles About Analysis.L. Susan Stebbing - 1939 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 39 (1):69-84.
Substances, Events, and Facts.L. Susan Stebbing - 1932 - Journal of Philosophy 29 (12):309-322.
IV.—The Method of Analysis in Metaphysics.L. S. Stebbing - 1933 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 33 (1):65-94.


Added to PP index

Total views
485 ( #18,778 of 2,507,895 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
30 ( #29,271 of 2,507,895 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes