[hist-analytic] The Dawn of Analysis

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Fri Feb 13 19:26:41 EST 2009

-- was the Dawn of Philosophy?
>From S. Soames's webpage at USC. He describes one of his specialties as  

>the history of analytic philosophy. 

So this should  concern us! The two volumes of his opus magnum are entitled, 
poetically, "The  dawn of analysis" and "the age of meaning". 

In his webpage introduction  he expands:

>More recently I have developed interests in [...] the  future of analytic 


Ah well, here we are slightly  more conservative (aren't we, Steve) and still 
interested in her  past!

Just joking!

Weatherson informally criticises Soames as  having looked, alla T. P. U. -- 
our Finnish correspondent on ANALYTIC -- into  'the strange death of ...' 
ordinary-language philosophy. Weatherson notes some  of the similes, "Grice put the 
last nail in the coffin". And later, but where  _is_ the corpse?

What fascinates me about Grice is that he *changed*, and  he never took 
himself (or 'his self', as he'd say) too seriously. He spent most  of his life 
criticising his 'colleagues' ('hacks', I think he sometimes called  them -- those 
he met face-to-face in the convivial thing he found philosophy to  be). 

Apparently, Soames's book does not consider literature post-1975,  and thus 
is not concerned with things like 'Valediction', by Grice, is to me is  _very_ 
20th century philosophy -- if not pure analytic!

In "Life and  Opinions", Grice jocularly seems to refer to Rorty's idea of a 
revolution in  philosophy, a paradigm-shift and so on --. Grice does use 
'revolution'; perhaps  not so much to refer to Ayer and his 'playgroup' but _Ryle_ 
too. So, if a  revolution took place (I think Grice is being slightly 
exaggerated here), you're  bound to create your enemies!

Soames seems to think that Grice's work on  'implicature' was the last nail. 
That's one way of reading him. As Bayne noted  about _other_ philosophers: 
it's best to go directly to the sources, and not let  exegeses guide you. One 
reads "Presupposition and Conversational Implicature"  for example, and one 
hardly finds the spirit of a man nailing _anything_. On the  contrary, one finds 
the spirit of a man who is concerned about the carefulness  (on the part of the 
'professionals') to take words seriously before we are going  to have _fun_ 
doing philosophy. 

That same jocular attitude I see in  Austin when he ends up _his_ William 
James saying, "the fun comes when we apply  this to philosophy" but that for a 
longer day!

This in connection with R.  B. Jones's reservations about restraints not 
being so in 'any discipline worth  her name'. But philosophers _seem_ to be 
different. I don't think those Oxford  dons were into _instilling_ their tutees with 
more and more content. They saw  philosophy as a way of arguing, and they 
would have been happy if their tutees  left the dreaming spires with an 
extra-awareness on how sloppy and muddled the  chat from the chattering classes those 
tuttees in their coming years will come  across with!

Must say there's something poetic about "The Dawn", rather  than the 
"Sun-Set" of "Analysis". And one hopes one can contribute to S.  Soames's research by 
noting that the dawn may perhaps be traced far _earlier_  than the 20th 
century? If 'analysis' is part and parcel of philosophy, perhaps  it should enrich 
us to see how the antecedents can be found in, say "Socrates  and his ilk"? 
(This is perhaps what Grice attempts in "Valediction", in a  comparison that S. 
R. Chapman cannot but find a bit _pretentious_!).  


J. L. 
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