[hist-analytic] recent history of analytic philo

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Thu Mar 19 09:17:52 EDT 2009

In a message dated 3/19/2009 7:07:30 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,  
mvp1 at igc.org  writes:


Thanks  for the link. Nice colourful cover -- alla Andy Warhol. I could  

1             2          3
Frege             ?                 Quine
4            5       6
?                Witters      Russell
---- Anyway, the CUP link possibly has the credits for backcover.
I browsed the sections, and enjoyed particularly the title of one:
    "Fog over channel: continent cut off!"
I noticed that "Paul H. Grice" [sic] is cited twice only: pp. 14, 54.
The author seems to have taken with some degree of seriousness the  different 
'meta-philosophical' approaches to the topic. Not just a history, but  a 
metaphilosophy as it were. One section for example goes,
       "Is analytic philosophy  conservative?"
I would think so, but then Grice self-labels "dissident" reactionary or  some 
such on the second page of his "Life and Opinions" -- so one has to be  
careful with generalisations. The actual phrase is "irreverent, conservative,  
dissenting". But:
    (a) irreverent -- is a trademark of his genius. You have  it or you 
don't. It's the conviviality
        and the idea that  philosophy has to be fun. "Laughter with 
philosophy is not laughter
        at philosophy"
    (b) conservative -- this he applies to his brand of  'rationalism' at a 
time when Empiricism
         was starting, to use that  hateful expression, to rear its beautiful 
head --. Grice has
         described it as a 'bete  noire' and now he is fighting with Kant. 
Recall that his "Logic
         and Conversation" goes, "I  am enough of a rationalist to..." -- 
That's 1967. Today, the
         dissenting thing to say is  "I am enough of an empiricist"!
    (c) dissenting -- This is the label he valued most. In  fact, (a) and (b) 
are expanded only
         in a footnote. Grice's  footnotes can be fun.
         The odd thing about this  is that it's Herbert to blame. Glock cites 
this man as
                 Grice, Paul H.
       but it was in fact, as the (c) for  _WOW_ goes:
                Grice, Herbert Paul
      Herbert was Grice's father -- and Grice was  the eldest son. It was 
traditional to christen
      the eldest boy after the fater (Grice's  brother is Derek -- and that 
was it). 
      He would never use either "Herbert" or  "Paul" was the custom was in 
England: it's
      always H. P. Grice. In America they started  to have him, "H. Paul 
Grice", which 
      sounds odd.
      Finally, he got so tired (or came to love  it) that he dropped the H. 
     But it was Herbert Grice Sr that made a dissident  of little Paul:
            "the  tendency towards dissent may have [...] derived from ...
             my  father. 
(a fine musician and a gentle person -- they enjoyed the trios with Grice  
Sr. violin, Derek cello and Grice Jr. piano -- they played Bach -- Derek  became 
a professional cellist in Hampshire -- and Grice Jr. mesmerised the  
graduation-party at Clifton with his recital of Ravel). 
         "I witnessed almost daily  the spectacle of his
         nonconformism coming under  attack from ... a
         resident aunt who was a  Catholic convert."
-- Apparently the book is well documented. As a German author that I think  
he is, I was amused that when corresponding with the German philosopher Andreas 
 Kemmerling -- _the_ German Grice -- I found that he was actually  teaching 
"Analytische Philosopie". It amused me that the Germans being so  reverential 
that they have 'analytic' in the title of the course they  give!  So much for 
fog over the channel.
There are good sections on Germanophilia, or Germanophony, rather -- and  
I cannot say I know more than Oxford philosophy -- there is a section on  
Anglican-Austrian axis or some sort, which must refer to Weismann. 
Oxford is an animal in itself, or as I prefer, an island totally surrounded  
by land. The main phases of analytic philosophy in Oxford cannot be properly  
discussed in a book that aims at discussing Wittgenstein and Quine, too. E.g.  
what was the connection between analytic philosophy of the Grice generation 
and  the realist school of Cook Wilson. Grice cites _Statement and Inference_,  
Or, how much scorn was poured on Sir Freddie with his new Gollancz volume,  
Language Truth, and Logic? Yes, 'analytic philosophy' but too much of a good  
thing to be properly digested in Oxford.
Is the Austin vs. Ryle polemic more of a social thing than anything else? I  
think so. Austin would not allow in his playgroup anyone his senior. 
The public and the private in Oxford philosophy: how much is just unwritten  
(agrapha dogmata). How much was displayed at meetings of the Oxford Society. 
How  much was the movement a real movement? How much was it the establishment 
outside  Oxford. What percentage of 'truly Oxford philosphers' did publish in 
the  'establishment' journals like Aristotelian Society, or worse, Journal of  
Philosphy and Philosophical Review. How much of Oxford analysis was published 
in  the conservative Philosophy of the Royal Society of Philosophy?
Another thing to consider is the _teaching_ of analytic philosphy, while it  
was cooked. What kind of examination committees were implemented? Who decided  
issues of policy regarding curriculum? At this level, it does seem analytic  
philosophy was pretty influential, but I still cannot think that it would 
_make_  *me* (say, a Parmenidian) into one!
J. L. Speranza
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