[hist-analytic] A Dry Martini: Analytic Philosophy -- Method _and_ Content
Jlsperanza at aol.com
Jlsperanza at aol.com
Thu Feb 19 19:20:29 EST 2009
"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 other
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 chopped
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 necessarily.
Operational replacement: the 'body' as _placement_ of the soul.
etc. I wish I could paste Shropshire's reasoning, but it's pdf and I guess
I'm too lazy today to copy it out!
But I'd be curious as to what other notions one may think as 'not really
_received_' philosophically speaking, but which _have_ received a sort of
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, the
... 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 from
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 what
Popper says about the _priority_ of *falsificationism* rather! (But then he
would rather be seen dead than described as one 'engaged in philosophical [i.e.
Fascinating history, analytic philosophy -- who said it was _dry_? (Not
Bayne, although he did mention a dry martini, no?)
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