10. Analysis and Epistemic Retreat

Philosophical Analysis is a kind of epistemic retreat, a retreat from speculation toward a conception of philosopy which is more conservative in its ambitions and claims, and which by confining itself within the limits of rationality achieves higher standards of rigour and approximates better that ideal of continuous extension of our knowledge without unending controversy or frequent reversals.

We may see Moore and Russell as initiating such a retreat at the turn of the twentieth Century, but as having uncertain and disparate ideas on the kind of analytic method which would achieve the desired effect. Moore's instinct is to retreat from those aspects of philosophy which are most radically divergent from ``common sense'', and to retreat to the study of language, perceiving there to be more to the understanding of language than the common skills in its use. His interest is however, abstracted away from the language and its usage, to the concepts it employs. Russell, on the other hand, sees a new tool in the emerging symbolic logic, which he perceives in the first instance as proving a basis for establishing the logical status of mathematics, and in the second for securing in philosophy the same standards of scientific rigour.

Roger Bishop Jones 2016-01-07