Thursday, April 17, 2008

Larkin, William. "Review of Aaron Preston's ANALYTIC PHILOSOPHY: THE HISTORY OF AN ILLUSION." NDPR April 15, 2008.

Aaron Preston has written an extremely clear and richly provocative book on the nature of analytic philosophy (hereafter, AP). To provide a point of entry into his investigation, he initially characterizes AP as connected to a "particular philosophical outlook" that secured the attention and the loyalty of academic philosophers both in places that mattered . . . and in numbers large enough to generate the kind of regular and widespread discussion that would both require the coining of a new term and explain that term's subsequent entrenchment as one of the most familiar in the philosophical lexicon (2). The philosophical outlook in question, Preston will argue, has been traditionally conceived of as centered on the linguistic thesis that "philosophy is wholly or largely a matter of linguistic analysis." (31) The primary aim of Analytic Philosophy: the History of an Illusion is to explain the "rather peculiar career" of AP as traditionally conceived; in particular, its rapid rise and fall and its continuing regional dominance. (3) Preston's main conclusion is that this peculiar career can be explained by the fact that AP was never a philosophical school defined by the linguistic thesis but a social movement that arose when scientism gave rise to a pair of illusions concerning the linguistic thesis. . . . Read the rest here: http://ndpr.nd.edu/review.cfm?id=12906.

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