Christopher Pincock ([email protected]) September 4, 2006 (2782 words)

In his carefully argued and extensively researched article “The Implications of Recent Work in the History of Analytic Philosophy” (Preston 2005a) Aaron Preston has raised what should surely be the central methodological issue for Russell studies and the history of analytic philosophy more generally.[1] That is, what are the goals of the history of analytic philosophy and by what means can we best try to meet these goals? Preston’s main conclusion is that historical investigation into the origins of analytic philosophy has made the most common answers to these questions untenable. In particular, we are encouraged to conclude that analytic philosophy is not even a genuine philosophical movement, and is in this sense “illusory”. For Preston, then, the history of analytic philosophy should reconcile itself to this fact and adjust its methods dramatically. Once we see that analytic philosophy, as traditionally conceived, never existed, then we are free to apply tools not usually deployed in the history of philosophy, e.g. memetics (Preston 2005b)
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