History of Philosophy
Overview
The term History is intended here loosely, to cover material on philosophers and their works.
Selected Quotes from Philosophers
Historical Threads
Varieties of Philosophical Analysis in recent history are examined.
Positivist philosophy in its broadest sense is a general tendency in philosophy which embraces aspects of the thought of many philosophers including Humean scepticism, the work of Comte (who coined the term), elements of utilitarianism and pragmatism, and logical positivism.
Scepticism has a long history.
Leibniz dreamed of a universal language and a calculus of reason which would reduce all problems to numerical computation. Unrealisable in his time, it is still today a dream, but one which (subject to qualifications) advances in mathematics, logic and information technology may have brought within our grasp.
Isaiah Berlin was a philosopher who mainly wrote about the history of ideas and had a particular interest in the period around the French Revolution and its relevance to political thought in mid twentieth century.
His life and works.
Quine on Carnap, the analytic/synthetic dichotomy and related matters, including truth by convention, modality and reference, semantics and ontology. A survey and analysis of Quine's writings on Carnap's philosophy, the analytic/synthetic distinction and closely related issues.
An analysis of the differences between Carnap and Kripke on the relationship between the analytic/synthetic, necessary/contingent and a priori/a posteriori distinctions.
An analytic examination of varieties of analysis (mostly but not necessarily philosophical) and their philosophical, technical and technological underpinnings, historical and contemporary, formal and informal.
Miscellanea.
Historical Notes on Scepticism
Scepticism has a long history.
Introduction to Sceptical Thought
Ancient and modern scepticism in a nutshell.
Pre-Socratic Scepticism
There was a great deal of sceptical thought in ancient Greece before scepticism became a self conscious philosophical stance. Here are one or two examples.
Socrates and Plato
Socrates and Plato contributed some significant elements to the development of sceptical thought, without themselves being full-blooded sceptics.
Greek Scepticism Proper
Scepticism proper may be considered as falling into four principle stages, the practical scepticism of Pyrrho of Elis, academic scepticism, pyrrhonean scepticism, and empiric scepticism.
Academic Scepticism
Academic scepticism is that of Plato's academy and occurs in several phases.
Pyrrhonean Scepticism
A pyrrhonean sceptic is one whose doubts are universal and who therefore makes no claims to knowledge.
Scepticism before the Enlightenment
During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, from the beginning of the reformation to the dawn of the enlightenment, pyrrhonean scepticism was a significant influence on European philosophy.
Positivist philosophy in its broadest sense is a general tendency in philosophy which embraces aspects of the thought of many philosophers including Humean scepticism, the work of Comte (who coined the term), elements of utilitarianism and pragmatism, and logical positivism.
Notes on the History of Positivist Philosophy
Positivist philosophy in its broadest sense is a general tendency in philosophy which embraces aspects of the thought of many philosophers including Humean scepticism, the work of Comte (who coined the term), elements of utilitarianism and pragmatism, and logical positivism.
Key Elements of Positivism
Kolakowski decribes positivism as "a collection of rules and evaluative criteria referring to human knowledge" which tells us what kinds of proposition might count as knowledge of the world and gives norms for what questions are meaningful.

Four features enumerated by Kolakowski as characteristic of positivism: phenomenalism, nominalism, status of value judgements, unity of science. However, Carnap's logical positivism is neither phenomenalistic nor nominalistic.
Other Aspects of Positivism
Other features which may be present, such as empiricism, scepticism, semantic doctrines (verification, utility, pragmatics), methodology for science and philosophy, foundationalisms.
Scepticism has a long history.
Medieval Precursors
The views of some late medieval philosophers may be said to have elements of positivism in them, and contributed towards the separation of scientific knowledge from metaphysics and a separation of secular from ecclesiastical matters.
Precursors in the Enlightenment
According to Kolakowski, "the Enlightenment had a positivism all of its own".
David Hume
Hume scores well on all of Kolakowski's key features and is therefore considered the first full blooded positivist.
Auguste Comte
Comte is the founding father of positivism, the first to deliberately formulate a positivist philosophy and the person who gave the position its name.
My notes on the book by Leszek Kolakowski.
Leibniz and the Automation of Reason
Leibniz dreamed of a universal language and a calculus of reason which would reduce all problems to numerical computation. Unrealisable in his time, it is still today a dream, but one which (subject to qualifications) advances in mathematics, logic and information technology may have brought within our grasp.
The Dream of Leibniz
Leibniz conceived of and attempted to design a lingua characteristica (a language in which all knowledge could be formally expressed) and a calculus ratiocinator (calculus of reasoning) such that when philosophers disagreed over some problem they could say 'calculemus' (let us calculate) and agree to formulate the problem in the lingua characteristica and solve it using the calculus ratiocinator.
Problems and Solutions
Leibniz was shackled:
  • possibly by some philosophical weaknesses,
  • by the inevitable incompleteness of science
  • by insufficient rigour in the mathematics of his day,
  • by the limitations of the logic known in his time,
  • by the lack of adequate information technology.
since then, some progress has been made.
Notes on Isaiah Berlin
Isaiah Berlin was a philosopher who mainly wrote about the history of ideas and had a particular interest in the period around the French Revolution and its relevance to political thought in mid twentieth century.
These notes are and will remain, fragmentary, incomplete, un-scholarly, inaccurate. They are written as part of the process of writing other things, which are not themselves about Berlin or his views.
It is therefore moot whether they can be useful to anyone but myself. They might possibly contribute to an understanding of what I have written elsewhere, of the genesis of my own follies, if that should ever become a matter of interest.
Introduction
Berlin began his career as an analytic philosophy and then moved to be a philosophical historian of ideas, with a particular interest in the political ideas of "the romantic age", i.e., roughly, the century around the turn of the nineteenth.
The Enlightenment and Romanticism
Berlin's was particularly interested in the period (which he called "the romantic age"), consisting of the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries, and identifies one particular development which took place during this period as of special importance. This is the challenge to the outlook of the Enlightenment by certain aspects of romantic thought..
Liberty
Liberty in its various conceptions and misconceptions, is a key concept for Berlin.
History
Pluralism
The Tripod
Berlin's tripod is a description of what he believed to the central doctrine of Western thought (from the Greeks onwards), which were overturned by Romanticism.
Notes on various of Berlin's writings (sometimes no more than the title).
A Conversation between Carnap and Grice
A short comparative treatise on the philosophies of Carnap and Grice probing the principle areas of substantive disagreement and asking whether a reconciliation might eventually have been possible.
Relevant Blogs
This project is a collaboration with J.L. Speranza, and the above llinks to a web page I made for hum.
This is an early draft at a stage when the ideas are still fluid.
This is a collection of materials on Grice for use in the conversation document, which might or might not at some future date turn into a project in its own right.
Quine on Carnap
Quine on Carnap, the analytic/synthetic dichotomy and related matters, including truth by convention, modality and reference, semantics and ontology. A survey and analysis of Quine's writings on Carnap's philosophy, the analytic/synthetic distinction and closely related issues.
A discussion of the issues at stake in the dialogue between Carnap and Quine.
A survey, analysis and critique of Quine's writings on Carnap's philosophy, the analytic/synthetic distingtion and related matters, including truth by convention, modality and reference, semantics and ontology.
Apparent presumptions, explicit claims and reasoned arguments put forward by Quine against Carnap on the analytic/synthetic dichotomy and related problems.
Carnap v. Kripke on the Triple Dichotomy
An analysis of the differences between Carnap and Kripke on the relationship between the analytic/synthetic, necessary/contingent and a priori/a posteriori distinctions.
Introduction and Background
A sketch of the problem and of some relevant philosophy prior to Carnap.
Carnap on Analyticity and Necessity
The A Priori
Kripke's Refutation of Carnap
An Analytic History of Philosophical Logic
An analytic examination of varieties of analysis (mostly but not necessarily philosophical) and their philosophical, technical and technological underpinnings, historical and contemporary, formal and informal.
Background
A few words on the purposes and character of the work.
Part II of Analyses of Analysis is the part where I seek to present and subject to comparative analysis modern analytic methods and their philosophical underpinnings.
First part of an analytic history of Philosophical Analysis, consisting of examples of exegetical analysis pertinent to the origins of modern methods.
Part III
A condensation of the formal backbone to the formal analyses, presenting the naked analytic truths obtained by deduction in the context of the formal models.
Current Drafts in PDF

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