[hist-analytic] A Dry Martini: Analytic Philosophy -- Method _and_ Content

steve bayne baynesrb at yahoo.com
Thu Feb 19 20:04:07 EST 2009

Yes, I may have said this, but the last time I went to an APA meeting I needed 

a lot of martinis to forget what I'd seen! Good grief, even in St. Louis

meetings it wasn't uncommon to hear Kaplan, Castenada, Lewis, Sellars, 

Chisholm, Bergmann, Marcus,  Findlay, and a couple of list subscribers to this 

list etc. The last time I went to what was called the Western Division, which 

was in fact in the midwest the topics were just terrible, in my opinion. 

By night's end I was seeking stimulation among for the personalists 
(some weird group that was always around but no one seemed to know 
what they believed) but would have settled with the "process philosophers,"
which I now count myself as being among.

I might add that the Bertrand Russell Society from time to time has some

good speakers on philosophical topics. A smart grad student would best

turn in the direction of the "unofficial" groups like this, perhaps, than muck

in with the mass of flesh crowding the guys who write the recommendations.
Don't think they don't love it.

I don't want to sound too cynical. There is a great deal to admire in a young

person who pursues philosophy not knowing where his next meal is coming.

One thing the "old guard" had was passion, real passion. Another thing, 

was that there were "characters." I think Anscombe was one of the last

"characters." Castenada, maybe (who had about as much passion for
the field as Plato) Most worthwhile philosophers these days APPEAR
 to be in it because they "happen to be good at it."

By the way, verificationism has a terrific intellectual history, going back 

a good way further than Ayer. The ties to pragmatism, the link to Russell's

priniciple of acquaintance are, also,  rich and well worth the effort to study.

Sorry about not answering more posts. I'm in a "full run" to finish the
Anscombe book. Her "On Sensations of Positions" _Analysis_ 1962
is thought provoking. The more I look how she set her sites on Descartes
the more I'm puzzled. She and Kenny and others view the private language
argument in Witt as an attack on Descartes. I don't recall a single citation
in Wittgenstein, even the minor works, of Descartes. One may be there,
but I don' t think so. Funny, Strawson in his review of Phil Investigation 
remarks something like "all roads lead to the private language argument."
And no one reference to Descartes in Wittgenstein. He argues against
Descartes through Russell and the notion of direct acquaintance. Look
at the paper by Anscombe on sensations. There are tensions within
the corpus of work that seeks amity with the later Wittgenstein.

I may regret my rhetorical excess to a degree in some of my above
remarks, but It's great not having to answer to anyone! In academia.
The "fear" is always there no matter how high up the greasy pole you climb, 
or so it seems - sometimes.


--- On Thu, 2/19/09, Jlsperanza at aol.com <Jlsperanza at aol.com> wrote:
From: Jlsperanza at aol.com <Jlsperanza at aol.com>
Subject: A Dry Martini: Analytic Philosophy -- Method _and_ Content
To: hist-analytic at simplelists.co.uk
Date: Thursday, February 19, 2009, 7:20 PM

"Suppose I say I attend the APA, to  tease
the intelligentsia,  with a glass of a dry 
martini in my right  hand"
apres S. R. B. 


I was browsing a list of publications and  came across one by Chomsky repr. 
in a book entitled something to the effect,  "Inference, Explanation, and
frustrations" (UC/Berkeley, 1992 ed. Earman.  

And 'frustration' kept me thinking. So I'd post to the forum:  

... and _then_ there's the idea that 'analytic philosophy'
(so-called)  is 
not to do with "content" but with "method". Ain't
_that_ frustrating?! But  it's 
the post-analytic credo!

In a way, the 'post-analytic' [sic -- I use  the term as a noun] is
right. He 
says that any theory about the _content_ is  laden ('theory-laden',
even) by 
a theory about _methodology_.

While  people like Grice (as R. B. Jones reports in his webpages -- 
specifically his  commentary on Grice on 'conceptual analysis and the
province of 
philosophy' now  in WOW) would say that they are ever so willing to engage
in the 
conceptual  elucidation of _any_ concept you name, how many _actual_ cases of 
such  generosity of spirit do we have in the literature!?

The one I can think  of is Grice's engaging description of what Shropshire 
may have meant when he  said,

"Hey, the soul is  immortal -- a chicken runs around after the head's
off,  no?"

Grice's elaboration on this may be viewed as an analysis of the  concept, 
'the soul is immortal'. It involves:

--- analysis of what we  mean by 'soul'? Not necessarily. Operational 
replacement: 'animation': ability  to move. 

--- anaysis of what we mean by 'generation' and corruption? Not 
Operational replacement: the 'body' as _placement_ of the  soul.

etc. I wish I could paste Shropshire's reasoning, but it's pdf and  I
I'm too lazy today to copy it out!

But I'd be curious as to what  other notions one may think as 'not
_received_' philosophically speaking,  but which _have_ received a sort of 
'philosophical analysis'.

On the  other hand, it may be said -- and Grice was proud in saying this -- 
that, you  get together a bunch of talented philosophers (like Grice, Austin, 
Strawson,  Warnock, Urmson, Nowell-Smith, Hare, Hart, Pears, -- to name the 
ones he lists  in 'Reply to Richards') and you'll _bound_ (Grice
uses words to 
this effect) to  find some _diversity_ of views.

By this he was opposing to the typically  'Continental' (he thought --
view that "Oxford philosophy" was  _monolithic_. And he _is_ right:
we have 
within view the determinist, the  libertarian, the mechanist, the causalist,
... and this variety for any  "philosophy of" you can name!

---- If 'method' and 'content' are indeed  _separable_ then
perhaps as 
historians of analytic philosophy we should also be  able to separate ourselves
the 'dogmas' not of empiricism but of the Middle  Class! I think it was

somewhere I read (but then I'm reading too much about  verista opera) that
it's the 
middle class or burgeoisie that is to blame. New  sensitivities, realism, 
positivism, etc. This was okay au fin de siecle. But  then came the Vienna 
Circlers and not happy what with Comte had _said_ about  'positivism'
came with a 
"new", 'logical' one! 

Unfortunately,  'verificationism' fares none any better! Why, look at
Popper says about the  _priority_ of *falsificationism* rather! (But then he 
would rather be seen dead  than described as one 'engaged in philosophical
conceptual]  analysis'!

Fascinating history, analytic philosophy -- who said it was  _dry_? (Not 
Bayne, although he did mention a dry martini,  no?)



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