Philosophy's Second Revolution: Early and Recent Analytic Philosophy, and: The Rise of Analytic Philosophy, and: Early Analytic Philosophy: Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein. Essays in Honor of Leonard Linsky (review)

Journal of the History of Philosophy 36 (3):481-481 (1998)
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In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:Reviewed by:Philosophy’s Second Revolution: Early and Recent Analytic Philosophy by D. S. Clarke, and: The Rise of Analytic Philosophy ed. by Hans-Johann Glock, and: Early Analytic Philosophy: Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein. Essays in Honor of Leonard Linsky by William W. TaitCharles LandesmanD. S. Clarke. Philosophy’s Second Revolution: Early and Recent Analytic Philosophy. Chicago: Open Court Publishing Company, 1997. Pp. xii + 232. Cloth, $42.95. Paper, $19.95.Hans-Johann Glock, editor. The Rise of Analytic Philosophy. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1997. Pp. xiv + 95. Paper, $19.95.William W. Tait, editor. Early Analytic Philosophy: Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein. Essays in Honor of Leonard Linsky. Chicago: Open Court Publishing Company, 1997. Pp. viii + 291. Cloth, $54.95. Paper, $26.95.A remark once made by a justice of the Supreme Court about pornography may also apply to analytic philosophy: one can’t define it, but one knows it when one sees it. Can one do better than this? For D. C. Clarke, Western philosophy has undergone two revolutionary breaks with its past: the first initiated by Descartes directed against classical philosophy and the second initiated at the turn of this century that came to be known as analytic philosophy. (Continental philosophy is barely mentioned. Heidegger is briefly referred to as a bad example of a philosopher who “employs vacuously general language better designed for expressing attitudes than for advancing claims vulnerable to criticism” [192].) A revolutionary shift of framework, for Clarke, eliminates a whole set of problems. Even though the problems discussed by analytic philosophers seem similar to many of those discussed by Plato and Descartes, in fact the relation is tenuous, and current problems have new meanings (190).Clarke offers little help in defining analytic philosophy for “we find today the clear sense of purpose of analytic philosophy which flourished forty years ago being replaced by a variety of programs sharing no easily discernible common thread” (xi). It looks as if the revolutionary élan has been replaced by business as usual. Clarke’s volume is not, however, a history of analytic philosophy but a survey intended for students and the general reader of the views of analytic philosophers on a selected group of problems: approaches to language, the relation of mind to body, the nature of belief, knowledge, and understanding, the relation between philosophy and science, ethics, and philosophical method. Clarke discusses each issue with clarity and insight and argues for his own views, which are always interesting. He criticizes the current tendency in analytic philosophy toward excessive specialization and argues that the special task of philosophy is to search for a framework capable of integrating various aspects of culture. He emphasizes the importance of the study of the history of philosophy: “The central concepts of any integrating framework are few.... The history of philosophy is an indispensable aid in providing such understanding in choosing those [End Page 481] concepts that can serve this function in the present” (191). This book can be recommended for courses in analytic philosophy and in the history of philosophy in the twentieth century.Most of the essays in the volume edited by Glock are concerned to advance ways of characterizing analytic philosophy. Most of them reject Dummett’s claim that analytic philosophy is distinguished by its concern with explaining thought by giving an account of language. In his essay, Dagfinn Føllesdal recognizes the difficulty of constructing any useful classification of intellectual trends. Because analytical philosophy cannot be characterized by reference to doctrines or problems, he proposes to distinguish it by reference to its approach to philosophical problems: “analytic philosophy is very strongly concerned with argument and justification. An analytic philosopher asks: what reasons are there for accepting or rejecting this position?” (7). The interest in language is merely an offshoot of this more fundamental concern. It follows that “the analytic/non-analytic distinction runs across other divisions.... Whether one is an analytic philosopher depends on what importance one ascribes to argument and justification” (14). Thus Aquinas and Descartes, among others, count as analytic philosophers but not Heidegger or Derrida because “they predominantly make use of rhetoric” (12). Føllesdal thinks that there are ethical reasons for being an analytic philosopher...



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Charles Landesman
Yale University

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