Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 20 February 2020

The Historiography of Analytic Philosophy

Abstract and Keywords

In this chapter I offer an account of how analytic philosophy became constructed as a philosophical tradition, from its roots in the complex intellectual context of the last quarter of the nineteenth century to its dominant position across the world at the beginning of the second decade of the twenty-first century. I consider some of the histories of analytic philosophy that have been written, exploring the historiographical issues that they raise, with particular reference to Nietzsche’s distinction between monumental, antiquarian, and critical history, and subsequent debates about the relationship between rational and historical reconstruction. I end by outlining and defending the historical turn that has taken place in analytic philosophy over the last twenty years.

Keywords: analytic philosophy, history of analytic philosophy, historiography of analytic philosophy, historical turn in analytic philosophy, analytic versus continental philosophy, ahistoricism, monumental history, antiquarian history, critical history, rational r

If you are to venture to interpret the past you can do so only out of the fullest exertion of the vigour of the present.

(Nietzsche, ‘On the Uses and Disadvantages of History for Life’, 1874, p. 94)

The past alone is truly real: the present is but a painful, struggling birth into the immutable being of what is no longer. Only the dead exist fully.

(Russell, ‘On History’, 1904c, p. 61)

History begins only when memory’s dust has settled.

(Ryle, ‘Introduction’ to The Revolution in Philosophy, 1956, p. 1)

Nietzsche opens his brilliant early essay ‘On the Uses and Disadvantages of History for Life’ with a quote from Goethe: ‘In any case, I hate everything that merely instructs me without augmenting or directly invigorating my activity.’ He goes on to argue that we need history ‘for the sake of life and action’, and this forms a central theme throughout his subsequent work. We find it expressed again, for example, in On the Genealogy of Morals, where he attacks modern historiography for aspiring merely to mirror and hence resisting any kind of judgement (1887, ‘Third Essay’, § 26). In his early essay, Nietzsche distinguishes three species of history, which he calls ‘monumental’, ‘antiquarian’, and ‘critical’, corresponding to three ways in which history relates to the living person: ‘as a being who acts and strives, as a being who preserves and reveres, as a being who suffers and seeks deliverance’ (1874, p. 67). Monumental history provides a supply of the greatest moments in history for emulation and inspiration; antiquarian history gives a sense of the local coherence and rootedness of previous life and thought to satisfy our nostalgia for their imagined certainties; while critical history submits the events of the past to the tribunal of reason for examination and critique. Nietzsche argues that all three types of history are needed, each correcting the excesses of the other. Antiquarian history reminds monumental history of the terrain that makes possible the mountain peaks, for example, while monumental history rectifies the myopia (p. 31) of antiquarian history. Critical history encourages us to tackle the mountain peaks for ourselves, while foiling the epistemological escapism of antiquarian history.

The historiography of analytic philosophy provides excellent illustrations of Nietzsche’s three species of history. Standard textbooks tend to represent analytic philosophy as a progression from one mountain peak to another, from Frege’s Begriffsschrift through Russell’s theory of descriptions to Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, to name but three familiar summits. There are detailed works of scholarship that offer antiquarian powder to explode monumental mythology, such as Griffin’s book on Russell’s break with idealism (1991) and Uebel’s account of the Vienna Circle debate about protocol sentences (1992, 2007). As to critical history, this has been alive and kicking from the very dawn of analytic philosophy, from Frege’s criticisms of the views of his predecessors in the first half of The Foundations of Arithmetic (1884), Russell’s reconstruction of Leibniz’s philosophy (1900), and Moore’s simplification of idealist arguments (1899a, 1903b), onwards.1 Kripke’s use of Frege and Russell as the stalking-horses for his own theory of reference (1980) and his interpretation of Wittgenstein’s discussion of rule-following to motivate his idea of a ‘sceptical solution’ to a ‘sceptical paradox’ (1982) are just two more recent examples to illustrate the power and prevalence of the genre.

However, it would be misleading to suggest that any of these examples involve only one of Nietzsche’s three species of history. Rather, each combines different aspects of those species in varying degrees. Dummett’s first book on Frege’s philosophy of language (1973), for example, might be seen as combining the monumentalizing of Frege with critical reconstruction to further his own concern with developing a theory of meaning. Candlish’s recent book on the dispute between Russell and Bradley (2007) does not just provide a much-needed corrective to received views of this dispute but has its own underlying agenda—to argue for a view of philosophy that does justice to its historical dimension. Nietzsche’s tripartite distinction, though, offers a useful initial typology to indicate the range of accounts of the history of analytic philosophy and of analytic approaches to history, and a fruitful framework to explore some of the historiographical issues that arise from these accounts and approaches.

2.1 Context and Connection

Nietzsche’s essay was written in 1874, which was a significant year in the development of modern philosophy.2 Lotze’s so-called ‘greater’ Logic was published, an expanded version of his 1843 ‘lesser’ Logic. Whether or not Lotze counts as a neo-Kantian (p. 32) himself, he undoubtedly had a major influence on both neo-Kantianism and analytic philosophy as it originated in its two main—German and British—branches.3 This was especially true of his anti-psychologism and the Kantian distinction he drew between psychological genesis and logical justification.4 A new edition of Hume’s Treatise was also published, to which the British idealist Green wrote long introductions attacking what he called ‘the popular philosophy’, a form of empiricism with roots in Locke’s Essay and confusions that became clear in Hume’s Treatise, according to Green. Green’s Cambridge contemporary and sparring partner, Sidgwick, also published his main work, The Methods of Ethics, in 1874. While Sidgwick may be far less well known today than Mill, he developed a more sophisticated form of utilitarianism which had a major influence on Moore and many subsequent ethical theorists such as Hare, Parfit, and Singer.5

Lotze was the dominant philosopher in Germany at the time, and both Green and Sidgwick were leading figures in British philosophy. Green became White’s Professor of Moral Philosophy at Oxford in 1878 (although unfortunately he died just four years later), and Sidgwick became Knightbridge Professor of Moral Philosophy at Cambridge in 1883. In 1874, though, there were two further significant publications by philosophers who, like, Nietzsche, were at the beginning of their careers: Brentano and Bradley. Brentano was the oldest of the three, and in 1874 he published his first major work, Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint, in which he sought to establish a new science of mental phenomena, thereby sowing the seed of the phenomenological tradition that came to fruition in the work of Husserl. Bradley had been taught by Green, and he was to succeed Green as the main representative of British idealism. Bradley’s first publication appeared in 1874, too, offering an interesting comparison with Nietzsche’s essay. Entitled ‘The Presuppositions of Critical History’, it discusses a conception of ‘critical (p. 33) history’ close to Nietzsche’s. History, for Bradley, involves a ‘union’ of ‘the past in fact’ with ‘the present in record’ (1874, p. 8), and he rejects empiricist accounts that assume that past facts can simply be read off from present records. Instead, those records need to be subjected to interpretation and critical judgement. This idea was to influence Collingwood’s later insistence on the need to interrogate sources.6 Whereas Nietzsche offers, essentially, a pragmatic rationale for critical history, namely, that it invigorates our current thinking, Bradley digs deeper and argues that history inevitably involves interpretation and criticism. The main themes of his idealist metaphysics are already visible in this early work.7

1874 also saw two important publications by mathematicians. Both give little indication in their title of their revolutionary implications. One is called ‘On a Property of the Set of Real Algebraic Numbers’. In this paper Cantor first showed that the class of real numbers is not countable, thereby inaugurating his theory of transfinite numbers, which led—via the development of set theory—to the emergence of the paradoxes that are central to the story of early analytic philosophy.8 The second is called ‘Methods of Calculation based on an Extension of the Concept of Magnitude’, and was Frege’s Habilitationsschrift, written to qualify him to teach back at Jena, where he had first gone to university and where he was to stay for the rest of his career. Still five years before his Begriffsschrift of 1879, which is what truly revolutionized logic, this earlier work nevertheless anticipates the main idea of his logicist project. The seed from which the whole of arithmetic grows, he argues, is addition, which he associates with the iteration of an operation, represented by an appropriate function. So the concept of a function holds the key to connecting the different areas of arithmetic (1874, pp. 57–8).

The other significant publication of 1874, which—together with Lotze’s Logic—marks the emergence of a debate that is central to the story of analytic philosophy right from the beginning, is Wilhelm Wundt’s Principles of Physiological Psychology. Described as ‘the most important book in the history of modern psychology’ (Boring 1950, p. 322), Wundt here lays the foundations of empirical psychology by arguing that ‘consciousness’, or ‘inner experience’ as he defines it, can be investigated scientifically by direct self-observation. Wundt rejected Kantian criticisms of the scientific status of psychology, and five years later, he established Germany’s—and Europe’s—first psychology laboratory. (The very first in the world was founded just a year after Wundt’s Principles, in 1875, by William James at Harvard.) With Lotze leading the Kantian opposition, the battle-lines were thus drawn up in the debate about psychologism that raged well into the twentieth century, as both analytic philosophy and phenomenology sought to establish themselves in opposition to psychologizing tendencies in (p. 34) philosophy and, on the other hand, empirical psychology broke away from philosophy to launch itself as a separate discipline. Indeed, although the debate has sometimes gone quiet, as in the 1920s and 1930s, it has never really left the philosophical agenda, and arguments about the relationship between philosophy and psychology were reinvigorated by the naturalistic forms of analytic philosophy that developed after the Second World War.9

In one year, 1874, then, we have works published which either represent or herald most of the great traditions of late nineteenth- and twentieth-century Western philosophy: neo-Kantianism, idealism, utilitarianism, phenomenology, scientific philosophy, as well as analytic philosophy—or at any rate, that branch of analytic philosophy that had its roots in work on the foundations of mathematics. Perhaps all we are missing are works representing positivism and pragmatism. Mach’s Analysis of Sensations was not to be published until 1886, although positivism counts as a form of scientific philosophy and Mach was both influenced by and made contributions to empirical (or physiological) psychology. The term ‘pragmatism’ did not make its public appearance until 1898, although Peirce’s essays of 1877–8 are often taken to mark the emergence of pragmatism and we might, in any case, see pragmatist ideas in Nietzsche’s philosophy.10 As far as the history of analytic philosophy is concerned, this reminds us that the analytic tradition did not emerge in an intellectual vacuum, or in a space informed only by certain mathematical developments and local hostility to British idealism.11 On the contrary, in the latter half of the nineteenth century, there was both intense debate about existing philosophical positions, such as empiricism, idealism, Kantianism, and psychologism, and germination of the seeds of the new traditions of the twentieth century, including phenomenology and pragmatism as well as analytic philosophy itself. Any proper understanding of the development of analytic philosophy, then, has to take account of its place in the broader intellectual context and its changing and contested interconnections with other traditions and disciplines.12

(p. 35) 2.2 Analytic Philosophy and Ahistoricism

As the two essays by Nietzsche and Bradley indicate, there was much discussion about the nature and role of historical understanding in the second half of the nineteenth century—in the period in which analytic philosophy itself has its origins. As is well known, however, analytic philosophy emerged with an entirely ahistorical self-image. Indeed, it might be said that its official ideology was strongly anti-historical. In one of his great purple passages, Frege has this to say about historical investigations in the introduction to The Foundations of Arithmetic:

The historical mode of investigation, which seeks to trace the development of things from which to understand their nature, is certainly legitimate; but it also has its limitations. If everything were in continual flux and nothing remained fixed and eternal, then knowledge of the world would cease to be possible and everything would be thrown into confusion. We imagine, it seems, that concepts originate in the individual mind like leaves on a tree, and we suppose that their nature can be understood by investigating their origin and seeking to explain them psychologically through the working of the human mind. But this conception makes everything subjective, and taken to its logical conclusion, abolishes truth. What is called the history of concepts is really either a history of our knowledge of concepts or of the meanings of words. Often it is only through enormous intellectual work, which can last for hundreds of years, that knowledge of a concept in its purity is achieved, by peeling off the alien clothing that conceals it from the mind’s eye.

(1884, p. VII/1997, p. 88)

Frege took himself to have revealed the ‘pure’ concept of a natural number, by defining the natural numbers as extensions of logical concepts. To show that this was indeed the right account, however, he had to explain what was wrong with previous conceptions of number, and he does this in the first half of the Foundations, discussing the views of Locke, Leibniz, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, and Mill, among others. To a certain extent, then, Frege himself does history of philosophy. It may only be ‘critical history’ of a fairly simple kind, but it is important nevertheless in motivating his own views. I have called this ‘historical elucidation’, alluding to Frege’s use of ‘elucidation’ (‘Erläuterung’) to refer to that pre-theoretical work that must be undertaken to get the basic (indefinable) concepts understood.13 Although Frege does not talk of elucidation having an historical (p. 36) dimension, his work shows that it does. New views always need to be positioned in the historical space of past conceptions, as Frege realized after it was clear from the reviews of Begriffsschrift that no one had appreciated his achievement or project.14 He recognized that an informal account of the kind offered in the Foundations was a necessary preliminary to the formal demonstration of his logicism that he later sought to carry out in the Basic Laws.15

Russell’s and Moore’s contribution to the founding of analytic philosophy proceeded quite explicitly by critical engagement with the views of previous thinkers. Their rebellion against British idealism is the most familiar part of the story.16 Less well known is the significance of the book Russell published in 1900: A Critical Exposition of the Philosophy of Leibniz.17 This can justifiably be regarded as the first work of ‘analytic’ history of philosophy, heralding what later came to be known as ‘rational reconstruction’.18 What is interesting about this book is that it was written before Russell’s conversion to the new quantificational logic of Frege and Peano.19 This is not to say that it was composed while Russell was still under the influence of British idealism, however. It was written in the short transitional period in which Russell was rebelling against British idealism—and indeed, played a key role in that rebellion. As Russell himself later remarked (1959a, p. 48), what he realized in working on Leibniz was the importance of the question of relations, and he was led to reject what he called ‘the doctrine of internal relations’—that ‘Every relation is grounded in the natures of the related terms’, as he put it (1959a, p. 43). He saw this doctrine as characteristic of both British idealism (and Bradley’s monism, in particular) and Leibniz’s monadism. His rejection of British idealism was thus partly effected through his critique of Leibniz.20

What a commentator must do, Russell writes, ‘is to attempt a reconstruction of the system which Leibniz should have written—to discover what is the beginning, and what the end, of his chains of reasoning, to exhibit the interconnections of his various opinions’ (1900, p. 2). In reconstructing Leibniz’s philosophy, Russell identifies five main (p. 37) premises that he argues generate not only Leibniz’s characteristic doctrines but also the inconsistencies that affect his philosophy. Exposition thus goes hand-in-hand with criticism, according to Russell. Indeed, the two are virtually inseparable, since the views need to be set out as clearly as possible to make judgements about them, and being alert to inconsistencies means respecting all the passages where claims are asserted or denied (cf. 1900, p. 3).

Russell’s conception of history of philosophy is further clarified in the preface to the book, where he distinguishes a ‘mainly historical’ from a ‘mainly philosophical’ approach. The first is concerned with influences, causes, context, and comparisons, while the second aims to discover ‘the great types of possible philosophies’, the understanding of which enables us to ‘acquire knowledge of important philosophic truths’ (1900, pp. xv–xvi). On this second approach, Russell writes, ‘the philosopher is no longer explained psychologically: he is examined as the advocate of what he holds to be a body of philosophic truth. By what process of development he came to this opinion, though in itself an important and interesting question, is logically irrelevant to the inquiry how far the opinion itself is correct’ (1900, p. xvi). Like Frege and the neo-Kantians, then, Russell draws a sharp distinction between psychological genesis and logical justification, which underlies his distinction between the two approaches to history of philosophy and his own obvious preference for the ‘mainly philosophical’ approach.

Both Russell’s distinction and preference have been characteristic of analytic historiography throughout the history of analytic philosophy, at any rate until fairly recently. Indeed, as the cases of Frege and Russell suggest, this analytic conception of history of philosophy is both historically and logically prior to the systematic projects pursued by analytic philosophers. Following Frege and Russell, analytic philosophers have offered (or borrowed) rational reconstructions in criticizing previous philosophical doctrines to motivate their own philosophical views, and presupposed the validity of the distinction between psychological genesis and logical justification in their methodology.

On Frege’s and Russell’s view, then, the history of philosophy is just a repository of different philosophical positions, understood as eternally given and towards which different philosophers take different attitudes.21 The adoption of these attitudes may be explained either psychologically or logically, and the task of the ‘philosopher’ (as opposed to ‘historian’) is to sift out the logical reasons from the psychological causes in arguing for the correctness of their own philosophical position and incorrectness of all other positions. That this view itself emerges out of a particular intellectual context (late nineteenth-century anti-psychologism) is obscured by the very anti-psychologism it presupposes. It might also account for why Frege and (early) Russell did not see themselves as offering a ‘new philosophy’. The forms of realism they adopted (Platonism in the case of Frege, naïve realism in the case of Russell in his initial rebellion against British idealism) were hardly new positions—but more (p. 38) importantly, could not be seen as new by the approach to history of philosophy they adopted. What was new was their methodology, based on logical analysis and contextual definition.22

Alternative conceptions of history of philosophy were available to Frege and Russell at the time they were writing. One such alternative was presented to Russell by Cassirer in his review of Russell’s book on Leibniz.23 Cassirer appreciates the value of Russell’s ‘systematic interest’, which enables questions to be asked that are rarely raised in traditional accounts (1902, p. 533). But he criticizes Russell for his obsession with identifying contradictions. Conflicting views might well be found in Leibniz’s writings when taken as a whole, but the conflict may simply be the result of intellectual development or of different dialectical contexts, where different pressures or concerns are involved. Cassirer’s main example is Leibniz’s conception of substance, which in reworking the traditional Aristotelian conception by giving it a dynamic character, looked both backwards and forwards. Cassirer writes that ‘It would be entirely one-sided and unhistorical to judge this opposition, on which, as it were, the whole inner tension of the system rests, as simply a contradiction’ (1902, p. 539). According to Cassirer, there may be ‘tensions’ in philosophical systems, but this is what drives philosophical thinking, the proper understanding of which requires a synthesis of ‘historical’ and ‘philosophical’ approaches. We will come back to this in due course.

2.3 Russell’s Role in the Construction of Analytic Philosophy

As the cases of Frege and (early) Russell suggest, then, a philosopher’s general position shapes, and in turn is shaped by, their view of history of philosophy. Analytic philosophers ever since have tended to endorse critical history: past philosophical work is selected and rationally reconstructed for present purposes, providing both alternative views by means of which to situate one’s own view as well as ideas and arguments, judged to be good, upon which to build. In this second case, but even to an extent in the first case, this leads to a certain degree of monumentalizing, whereby key figures or doctrines are singled out for approval. Despite criticizing Kant’s conception of arithmetic, for example, Frege still referred to him as ‘a genius to whom we can only look up with grateful admiration’, and suggested that he was merely refining Kant’s notion of analyticity in pursuing his logicist project (cf. 1884, §§ 88–9/1997, pp. 122–3).

(p. 39) Russell engaged in a great deal of critical history throughout his life. As well as writing on past philosophers such as Leibniz and Kant, he also discussed the work of many of his contemporaries, including James, Bradley, Frege, Meinong, Poincaré, Bergson, Dewey, Broad, Ryle, and Strawson, to name just some of the most prominent.24 All this engagement can be seen as culminating in his History of Western Philosophy, published in 1945. Its subtitle reveals that there is an element of antiquarianism here, too, though: ‘and its Connection with Political and Social Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the Present Day’. The book is an unreliable guide to either the philosophers or the circumstances covered, but the brief final chapter makes clear Russell’s own position and also the critical function that his antiquarianism performs. Entitled ‘The Philosophy of Logical Analysis’, Russell argues that one of the main attractions of the philosophy he endorses is that it does not allow itself to be influenced by ‘mistaken moral considerations’ or ‘religious dogmas’. ‘In the welter of conflicting fanaticisms’, Russell writes, ‘one of the few unifying forces is scientific truthfulness, by which I mean the habit of basing our beliefs upon observations and inferences as impersonal, and as much divested of local and temperamental bias, as is possible for human beings’ (1945/1961, p. 789). The antiquarianism thus turns out to be employed in criticizing the philosophies Russell rejects.

The scientific truthfulness of which Russell here speaks is a further reflection of that distinction between logical justification and psychological (or social or political) explanation that lies at the heart of both his and Frege’s methodology. It was also central to the methodology of logical positivism, especially in the work of Carnap and Reichenbach, for whom ‘scientific philosophy’ was seen as the way forward.25 Indeed, the term ‘rational reconstruction’ was first brought to prominence in the book Carnap published in 1928, The Logical Construction of the World, and Reichenbach develops the idea further in his Experience and Prediction of 1938, in which he draws his famous distinction between the context of discovery and the context of justification.26 Of course, these ideas themselves had a ‘context of discovery’ that we should not pass over without comment: they would certainly have had a special resonance in the 1930s and 1940s, as ‘conflicting fanaticisms’ were indeed raging across the world.27

Through his critical histories and rational reconstructions, and his methodological discussions of logical analysis and justification, Russell did more than any other philosopher to establish analytic philosophy as the tradition that it is now generally recognized as being. But this did not happen overnight or in ways that it might seem natural to assume (p. 40) now, and the history of its establishment is instructive. Russell’s and Moore’s rebellion against British idealism took place during a relatively short period of time, between 1898 and 1903, but the naïve realism they initially adopted was hardly distinctive in itself. Indeed, realism had already been taking over from idealism in Oxford at the time of their rebellion. Thomas Case, who was Waynflete Professor of Moral and Metaphysical Philosophy from 1889 to 1910, had published his Physical Realism in 1888, a book that even had ‘analytical philosophy’ in its subtitle, a term that is not used in any of Russell’s or Moore’s early writings. John Cook Wilson, who was Wykeham Professor of Logic from 1889 to 1915, was by then consolidating his position as the leading figure in Oxford realism and on the Oxford scene generally, although he published little in his lifetime and his Statement and Inference only appeared posthumously, edited from his lecture notes by one of his former students.28 In the United States, there was also a realist movement, instigated by the so-called ‘new realists’ and continued by the ‘critical realists’. The former, comprising Holt, Marvin, Montague, Perry, Pitkin, and Spaulding, published their manifesto in 1910 and their book, New Realism, in 1912.29 The latter, including Lovejoy, Santayana, and Roy Wood Sellars, published their Essays in Critical Realism in 1920.30 There were realist movements elsewhere, such as in Berlin, where Trendelenburg’s work inspired an Aristotelian realism with similarities to Oxford realism, and in Austria, led by Meinong, influenced by Bolzano and Brentano.31

What was distinctive of Moore’s and Russell’s realism was the emphasis placed on analysis, even if this, too, was initially conceived rather naïvely, as simply involving decomposition. With the emergence of the theory of descriptions in 1905, however, Russell’s analytic methodology (and to a lesser extent Moore’s) became more sophisticated.32 There was still no talk of ‘analytic philosophy’, but in 1911 Russell gave a lecture to the Société Française de Philosophie entitled ‘Analytic Realism’. He described his philosophy as realist ‘because it claims that there are non-mental entities and that cognitive relations are external relations, which establish a direct link between the subject and a possibly non-mental object’, and as analytic ‘because it claims that the existence of the complex depends on the existence of the simple, and not vice versa, and that the (p. 41) constituent of a complex, taken as a constituent, is absolutely identical with itself as it is when we do not consider its relations’ (1911c/1992, p. 133). He went on to characterize his philosophy as an ‘atomic philosophy’, and by the late 1910s, he was describing his position as ‘logical atomism’, a term that also came to be used, though not by Wittgenstein himself, for some of the central ideas of the Tractatus.33

In 1924 Russell wrote an article entitled ‘Philosophy of the Twentieth Century’,34 in which he divides academic philosophy into three groups: adherents of classical German philosophy, including Kantians and Hegelians; pragmatists and Bergson; and ‘realists’, understood as those who are scientifically minded (1924b/1943, p. 228). He admits that the division is not exclusive, suggesting that William James can be regarded as a founder of both pragmatism and realism. Russell quickly dismisses Hegelianism, taken as represented by Bradley, and goes on to consider the views of James and Bergson. In the final ten pages, he discusses the ‘new philosophy’ of realism, ‘characterized by analysis as a method and pluralism as a metaphysics’ (1924b/1943, p. 240). He claims that it had three main sources, in theory of knowledge, logic, and the principles of mathematics. In logic, he notes that the ‘organic’ view of the idealists is replaced by atomism, and as far as the principles of mathematics are concerned, he remarks that only the new philosophy has managed to accommodate the results of the work of Cantor, Frege, and others. In theory of knowledge, Russell claims that the new philosophy, as against Kant, maintains that ‘knowledge, as a rule, makes no difference to what is known’. This was one of the slogans of the Oxford realists, which Collingwood later notoriously thought he could refute in three sentences.35 So although Cook Wilson and the other Oxford realists of the period failed to appreciate the significance of the development of mathematical logic,36 there is an extent to which they might be seen as enlisted by Russell in his group of twentieth-century philosophers. Whether or not one counts the Oxford realists as ‘analytic philosophers’ alongside Russell, Moore, and (p. 42) Wittgenstein, their views are clearly important in the bigger story of the history of analytic philosophy.37

2.4 The Early Historical Construction of Analytic Philosophy

The first use of the term ‘analytic philosopher’ to refer to at least some of those whom we would now count as analytic philosophers does not occur until 1931, when we find it in Wisdom’s Interpretation and Analysis in Relation to Bentham’s Theory of Definition. Wisdom recognizes an anticipation of Russell’s theory of descriptions, in its use of contextual definition to do eliminativist work, by Bentham in his theory of fictions. Key here is what Bentham calls ‘paraphrasis’: ‘that sort of exposition which may be afforded by transmuting into a proposition, having for its subject some real entity, a proposition which has not for its subject any other than a fictitious entity’.38 Wisdom talks first of ‘logico-analytic philosophers’ and then just ‘analytic philosophers’, understanding analysis as the analysis of facts we already know (1931, pp. 13–15). A year later, the idea of paraphrasis, though not the term, is picked up by Ryle in ‘Systematically Misleading Expressions’ (1932), in which he argues that the philosophical problems that are generated by certain kinds of expression (such as ones that appear to denote non-existent objects) can be resolved by rephrasing the relevant sentences. Neither Wisdom nor Ryle talk of ‘analytic philosophy’ (Wisdom just talks of ‘analytic philosophers’), but the explicit articulation of the idea of paraphrasis in the work of both Wisdom in Cambridge and Ryle in Oxford represents a definite stage in the construction of analytic philosophy as a tradition.39

The first use of the term ‘analytic philosophy’ to refer to at least part of what we would now regard as the analytic tradition occurs in Collingwood’s Essay on Philosophical Method of 1933. He uses it to refer to one of two ‘sceptical positions’ that he attacks in chapter 7. What he has in mind, in particular, is the view according to which philosophy aims solely to analyse knowledge we already possess. He does not refer to Wisdom, but (p. 43) does mention Moore and Stebbing as advocates of this view. It is a ‘sceptical position’, he argues, because it denies that ‘constructive philosophical reasoning’ is possible (1933, p. 137), and he criticizes it for neglecting to examine its own presuppositions. Stebbing had herself drawn attention to this neglect in ‘The Method of Analysis in Metaphysics’ (1932), to which Collingwood refers, and she had attempted to identify these presuppositions, while admitting, however, that she could not see how they were justified. It is worth noting that what seems to have been the first use of ‘analytic philosophy’ occurs in a critique: it is often the case that positions are first clearly identified in attacking them.40

Stebbing’s role in the story of analytic philosophy is frequently overlooked. In 1930, she had published A Modern Introduction to Logic, which might be regarded as the first textbook of analytic philosophy. Her preface to the first edition opens with the remark that ‘The science of logic does not stand still’, and she notes that all the textbooks then in use in British universities make no reference to the developments in logic that had taken place in the previous 50 years. In setting out to correct this, she covers a wide range of topics, from the logical ideas of Principia Mathematica and Russell’s theory of descriptions, to various issues in scientific methodology and the theory of definition. In 1933, together with Duncan-Jones, Mace, and Ryle, she founded the journal Analysis, initially conceived as the mouthpiece of the Cambridge School of Analysis. In the ‘Statement of Policy’ that introduces the first issue, we read: ‘the contributions to be published will be concerned, as a rule, with the elucidation or explanation of facts, or groups of facts, the general nature of which is, by common consent, already known; rather than with attempts to establish new kinds of fact about the world, of very wide scope, or on a very large scale’. Although it has long since allowed a broader range of contributions, Analysis continues to be one of the flagships of analytic philosophy. In the first five volumes of the journal, there was a lot of discussion of the nature of analysis, a debate in which Stebbing’s work was influential.41

One of Stebbing’s key papers in this debate was the lecture she gave to the British Academy in 1933, in which she compared the conceptions of analysis of the Cambridge School and logical positivism.42 This was one of the first attempts to bring together the two kinds of philosophy. It was also Stebbing who invited Carnap to London in 1934 to talk on philosophy and logical syntax, which introduced logical positivism to Britain, and where Carnap first met both Russell and Ayer. Stebbing thus played a crucial role in creating the dialogue between the Cambridge School of Analysis and logical positivism that was to provide a central theme in analytic philosophy as it developed in the 1930s.

(p. 44) Although ‘analytic philosophy’ was first used to refer to the Cambridge School of Analysis, it was soon extended to include logical positivism as well. Here, too, though, the term was not initially used by the positivists themselves. There had been no mention of it in the manifesto of the Vienna Circle, published in 1929, where the key phrase was ‘scientific world-conception’. Frege, Russell, and Wittgenstein were mentioned as precursors, but as just three in a long list of other philosophers and scientists. In 1930 Carnap and Reichenbach founded Erkenntnis as the journal of logical positivism, and the first issue opens with an article by Schlick entitled ‘The Turning Point in Philosophy’. This turning point was made possible by the development of the new logic, Schlick argues, but what was crucial was the insights it fostered: into the nature of logic as purely formal and the nature of philosophy as an activity clarifying meaning rather than a science establishing truth. Schlick talks here of ‘the profound inner rules of logical syntax discovered by the new analysis’ (1930/1959, p. 56), though not of ‘analytic philosophy’. There is similar talk in Carnap’s famous contribution to the second volume of Erkenntnis, ‘The Elimination of Metaphysics through Logical Analysis of Language’ (1932a).

Talk of ‘logical analysis’, and the obvious influence of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus on the ideas of the logical positivists, clearly connected logical positivism to the Cambridge School of Analysis, and this connection was obvious to those who visited Europe from elsewhere. One such visitor was Ernest Nagel from Columbia University, who spent the academic year 1934–5 in Europe, and reported on his experiences for The Journal of Philosophy in ‘Impressions and Appraisals of Analytic Philosophy in Europe’, published in January 1936. This is the first article with ‘analytic philosophy’ in its title, and the first article that refers to both Cambridge philosophy and the work of the Vienna Circle (and indeed the Lvov–Warsaw School) as analytic philosophy. Nagel reports on ‘the philosophy professed at Cambridge, Vienna, Prague, Warsaw, and Lwów’ (1936, p. 6), but singles out the work of Moore, Wittgenstein, and Carnap for detailed discussion.

Carnap never took to the term ‘analytic philosophy’. In July 1935 he wrote to Quine about the titles of the courses that he had agreed to give in the States, to where he emigrated in December that year. He notes that Nagel had suggested ‘analytic philosophy’ for the elementary course he had proposed on ‘wissenschaftliche Philosophie’, given that translating it as ‘scientific philosophy’ might suggest that his subject was philosophy of natural science, which would be too narrow. But, he goes on, ‘I should not like this title very much’ (Quine and Carnap 1990, p. 181). In describing his work many years later in his intellectual autobiography (1963), he does not use the term.

The term ‘analytic philosophy’ did not really catch on until after the Second World War.43 By then many of the logical positivists who had emigrated to the States after the Nazis had come to power in Germany had established themselves in key philosophy (p. 45) departments, most notably, at Chicago, UCLA, Harvard, Princeton, Berkeley, Iowa, and Minnesota. There was also increasing contact between British and American philosophers. Many philosophers from the States, either as students or as faculty, spent at least a year at either Oxford or Cambridge, and many British philosophers visited the States to give lectures.44 The dialogue and cross-fertilization that this fostered made it natural to see a much broader movement developing, for which the umbrella term ‘analytic philosophy’ seemed eminently suitable. The first book to have this term in its title was Pap’s Elements of Analytic Philosophy, published in 1949. Pap distinguishes four main factions: Carnapians, Mooreans, Wittgensteinians or ‘therapeutic positivists’, and philosophers concerned to clarify the foundations of science and knowledge. That same year saw the publication of Feigl and Sellars’ classic collection, Readings in Philosophical Analysis. The title suggests that the emphasis is on the method of philosophical analysis rather than on a school or tradition of philosophical thought, but although the term ‘analytic philosophy’ is not used, the book made a major contribution to laying down the canon of analytic philosophy,45 and the new methodology was taken as marking ‘a decisive turn in the history of philosophy’ (1949, p. vi). A further collection on Philosophical Analysis was published the following year, edited by Black (1950a). Black does talk here of ‘analytical philosophy’ (though only once, in the preface), but he cautions against treating ‘Philosophical Analysis’ as forming ‘a “School” having well defined articles of association’ (1950b, p. 2). Rather, ‘analysis’ is used merely ‘to identify philosophers who share a common intellectual heritage and are committed to the clarification of basic philosophical concepts’ (1950a, p. v).46

Further events strengthened this growing sense that a distinctive style or methodologically rooted tradition of philosophy had established itself. In 1950 Feigl and Sellars followed up their collection by founding the journal Philosophical Studies, which they edited until 1971. Reichenbach wrote a Whiggish history of the rise of scientific philosophy (1951). 1952 saw Austin and Hart become Professors at Oxford and Wisdom become Professor at Cambridge, and both Quine and Strawson published textbooks on logic. Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations finally appeared (p. 46) in 1953, and both Quine and Wisdom published collections of their papers. 1953 also saw the first edition of Hospers’ Introduction to Philosophical Analysis. It was to go through three further editions over the next four decades and remains in print today, having introduced tens of thousands of students to analytic philosophy across the world.47

In 1955 White edited the sixth volume, on twentieth-century philosophers, in a series on ‘The Great Ages of Western Philosophy’. Although the work of Croce, Santayana, Bergson, Husserl, and Sartre was represented, it was clear from the title—‘The Age of Analysis’—where the main action was now seen as taking place, in the analytic and pragmatist traditions. As White wrote in his preface, ‘the twentieth century has witnessed a great preoccupation with analysis as opposed to the large, synthetic, system-building of some other periods in the history of philosophy’ (1955, p. 9). The other philosophers covered were Moore, Whitehead, Peirce, James, Dewey, Russell, Carnap, and Wittgenstein. Even if there was still reluctance to use the name itself, analytic philosophy did indeed appear to have come of age.

2.5 Analytic Philosophy and the Early Construction of its Own History

In retrospect, it might seem remarkable that even in the 1950s, the term ‘analytic philosophy’ was far from being widely used for the tradition that is now generally regarded as having originated more than half a century before then. However, traditions do not, of course, spring up overnight. Methodologies must be sufficiently developed and examples of their application (whether successful or instructively controversial) must be readily available. Their place in methodological space must be secured and recognizably defined, with appropriate contrasts drawn in opposition to rival traditions. They also need to have constructed enough of their history to boast a pedigree. 1956 heralded something of a watershed in all these respects.

Four influential articles were published in 1956: Austin’s ‘A Plea for Excuses’, which offers the fullest statement of his methodology and illustrates its use; Grice and Strawson’s reply to Quine’s attack on the analytic/synthetic distinction, which (p. 47) highlighted a debate that has been central to the history of analytic philosophy;48 Sellars’ ‘Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind’, where his famous critique of the ‘myth of the given’ was first articulated; and Place’s ‘Is Consciousness a Brain Process?’, which helped inaugurate a new phase in the development of philosophy of mind by arguing for the mind/brain identity thesis.49 The first edition of Wittgenstein’s Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics was also published that year, as well as two collections of the most important of their papers by Russell and Tarski—Logic and Knowledge and Logic, Semantics, Metamathematics, respectively. These three books made clear just how deeply interconnected the concern with the foundations of mathematics is with issues in semantics and the philosophy of language, interconnections that have also been at the heart of analytic philosophy.50

Two monographs helped consolidate the place of analytic philosophy in the history of philosophy, though in different ways. Urmson’s Philosophical Analysis: Its Development between the Two World Wars (1956) was the first history of analytic philosophy, discussing the rise and fall of both logical atomism and logical positivism, partly with the aim of clearing the ground for the new philosophy that was then emerging. (‘Philosophical Analysis’ is the title of the book, but Urmson also talks of ‘analysts’, ‘analytic theories’, ‘analytic philosophers’, and the like.) What was conceived as the ‘analytic movement’ was, in fact, something whose obituary was being written (cf. 1956, pp. 186–7). Historiography is always rich in irony, but it is certainly ironic that at the very point at which its obituary was being written, analytic philosophy was about to blossom into the dominant tradition in twentieth-century philosophy that it is now recognized as being. (It gives a twist to Russell’s remark, quoted at the beginning of this chapter, that ‘only the dead exist fully’.) Of course, it did so by greatly broadening the meaning of ‘analysis’, as a limited number of reductive forms of analysis gave way to various forms of connective analysis, and in turn to the whole range of forms combining reductive and connective analysis in different ways that characterizes the contemporary scene.51

One account that brought together some of these different forms of analysis was offered in White’s Toward Reunion in Philosophy (1956), which sought to show how the various strands of the analytic tradition merge with pragmatism once we recognize that describing, performing, and evaluating are all part of philosophizing. The book was based on a course on ‘Problems of Analytic Philosophy’ that White had begun teaching in the early 1950s at Harvard, which may have been the first course with ‘analytic (p. 48) philosophy’ in its title, although White remarks that it might just as well have been called ‘the Philosophy of Russell, Moore, Wittgenstein, Carnap, and a Few Others with Whom They Have Succeeded in Communicating’ (1999, p. 129). White’s teaching at Harvard influenced a generation of analytic philosophers, including Cavell and Dreben, who were assistants on his course (1956, p. xi).

Two other books published in 1956 deserve mention here, which illustrate the growing dominance of analytic philosophy in all areas of philosophy and in perceptions of philosophy outside the academy. The first is Laslett’s collection of essays, Philosophy, Politics and Society, which might be taken to mark the beginning of analytic political philosophy. The collection was the first in a series of volumes edited by Laslett and others over the next 50 years, which show how analytic political philosophy developed. This first volume was published just two years after Elton’s collection on Aesthetics and Language (1954), which marks the beginning of analytic aesthetics.52

The second book, The Revolution in Philosophy, consists of essays that originated in a series of talks given on the Third Programme of the BBC. In introducing the book, Ryle remarks that ‘History begins only when memory’s dust has settled’ (Ayer et al. 1956, p. 1), and suggests that twentieth-century philosophy is largely the story of the notion of ‘meaning’ (Ayer et al. 1956, p. 8), implying, though not explicitly asserting, that concern with meaning is the ‘revolution’ to which the title of the book refers. Chapters on Bradley (by Wollheim), Frege (by Kneale), logical atomism (by Pears), Moore (by Paul), the Vienna Circle (by Ayer), the later Wittgenstein (also by Paul), and two chapters on analysis (by Strawson and Warnock) follow. The chapter on Frege is worth noting: it marks the entry of Frege into the pantheon of analytic philosophers. We will return to this in the next section.

In the decade that followed, many more classics of analytic philosophy appeared, from Anscombe’s Intention (1957) and Chisholm’s Perceiving (1957), through Strawson’s Individuals (1959) and Quine’s Word and Object (1960), to Rorty’s collection on The Linguistic Turn, to mention just some of the highlights.53 After positivist savaging, Strawson’s book restored metaphysics to analytic respectability, albeit in a ‘descriptive’ rather than ‘revisionary’ form. Rorty’s collection gave wide currency not only to talk of ‘the linguistic turn’ but also to the idea of there being two conflicting strands within linguistic philosophy—ideal language philosophy and ordinary language philosophy.54 During the same period, further books on the history of philosophy appeared, including two editions of Passmore’s A Hundred Years of Philosophy (1957, 1966), G. J. Warnock’s English Philosophy since 1900 (1958, 1969), and Mary Warnock’s Ethics since 1900 (1960, 1966). G. J. Warnock’s book is highly parochial, giving the false impression that English (p. 49) philosophy is simply analytic philosophy: he discusses Moore, Russell, logical positivism, and Wittgenstein before passing on to his Oxford colleagues.55 Passmore’s book, by contrast, is admirably comprehensive, even from the English perspective he admits he has. Beginning with Mill, he covers various forms of idealism, naturalism, realism, and pragmatism, as well as developments in logic, logical positivism, ordinary language philosophy, existentialism, and phenomenology. Cook Wilson, Collingwood, and Heidegger are discussed, for example, as well as Russell, Moore, and Wittgenstein.56 Mary Warnock’s book is also written from an English perspective, spiced by token exotic flavours from America and France, with chapters on Bradley, Moore, Prichard’s and Ross’ intuitionism, Ayer’s and Stevenson’s emotivism, Hare, and Sartre’s existentialism.57

One other event from this period deserves mention here: the Royaumont colloquium of 1958.58 Entitled ‘La Philosophie Analytique’, this was intended to facilitate dialogue between analytic philosophers and philosophers from continental Europe. Participants included Ryle, Austin, Strawson, Quine, Williams, Urmson, Hare, Merleau-Ponty, Wahl, and van Breda (the founder of the Husserl archives at Leuven). Various myths have grown up about this conference, and it is often seen as having only further cemented the idea of a rift between analytic and ‘continental’ philosophy. Many of the myths have now been exploded,59 and the term ‘continental philosophy’ is highly problematic and unfortunate, not least because it both includes and excludes far too much.60 (p. 50) In fact, just as in the case of ‘analytic philosophy’, the term ‘continental philosophy’ only gained currency well over 50 years after the relevant supposed origins. In his own paper at the conference, Ryle uses the term in talking of ‘the wide gulf that has existed for three-quarters of a century between Anglo-Saxon and Continental philosophy’, meaning by ‘Continental philosophy’ primarily phenomenology.61 The term was also used, in a similar sense, by Mandelbaum in his Presidential Address to the American Philosophical Association in December 1962. Mandelbaum talks here of ‘two movements which, together, may be said to dominate philosophy’, namely, ‘that species of analytic philosophy which stems from Moore and the later Wittgenstein’ and ‘the phenomenological–existentialist movement which is characteristic of philosophy on the Continent’, which he immediately goes on to call ‘Continental philosophy’ (1962, p. 7). That there is a ‘phenomenological–existentialist’ tradition is uncontroversial, though some may prefer to talk of two—albeit connected—traditions here; but it is misleading to use a geographical term to designate this. Nevertheless, its misleading character aside, many of the arguments that inevitably go on in philosophy departments when new appointments are made and public profiles are produced gradually came to be construed as battles between ‘analytic’ and ‘continental’ philosophers, especially in the United States and Britain. These battles further illustrate just how the analytic tradition was partly constructed and consolidated in opposition to rival (constructed) traditions.

2.6 The Canonization of Frege

With the exception of selections from the Basic Laws of Arithmetic published in The Monist in 1915–17, there were no English translations of Frege’s work until 1948, when Black published his translation of ‘Über Sinn und Bedeutung’ in the Philosophical Review. A second translation was published by Feigl the following year in Feigl and Sellars’ Readings in Philosophical Analysis. In 1950 Austin’s translation of The Foundations of Arithmetic appeared, and in 1952 Geach and Black published their Translations from the Philosophical Writings of Gottlob Frege. Russell, Wittgenstein, and Carnap, in particular, had all acknowledged the importance and influence upon them of Frege’s work; but it was only once Frege’s writings were readily available in translation that English-speaking analytic philosophers began to pay attention to Frege.62 Articles on Frege started to appear in (p. 51) the main philosophical journals in the 1950s,63 and as mentioned above, Kneale contributed a chapter on Frege to The Revolution in Philosophy, published in 1956.

Two books stand out as crucial in the subsequent canonization of Frege as an analytic philosopher. The first is Anscombe’s Introduction to Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, published in 1959, in which she argued that failure to appreciate Frege’s work was the main cause of the ‘irrelevance’ of much of what had hitherto been published on Wittgenstein.64 The early Wittgenstein ceased to be either bracketed with (middle) Russell as a logical atomist or regarded as a proto-positivist, but instead was seen as responding, at a deep level, to problems in Frege’s philosophy. The second book is Dummett’s monumental work, Frege: Philosophy of Language, published in 1973, in which Frege finally emerged from the shadows of other philosophers and came to be seen as a significant philosopher in his own right, with a semantic theory, so Dummett argued, that could be developed and employed in reformulating and solving many of the traditional problems of philosophy.65

Dummett was not the only philosopher who held that the development of semantic theory was the key to dealing with a whole host of problems in the philosophy of language and mind. In a series of papers from the late 1960s, Davidson had advocated a similar programme.66 In seeing a theory of truth as providing the basis for a theory of meaning, Davidson drew on Tarski’s work as well as Frege’s, further widening the sphere of analytic philosophy and reconnecting with earlier philosophers and logicians.67 The so-called Davidsonic boom hit Oxford in the 1970s, combining with Dummett’s work to gradually loosen the hold that ‘ordinary language philosophy’ had had in Britain after the Second World War. This decline of ordinary language philosophy may also have increased willingness to use ‘analytic philosophy’ rather than ‘linguistic philosophy’ as the generic term for the various strands of the analytic tradition, including both ordinary language philosophy and ‘ideal language philosophy’.68

In the States, the work of Quine, Kripke, and Putnam, criticizing many of the assumptions and doctrines of earlier analytic philosophy concerning meaning and the analytic/synthetic, a priori/a posteriori, and necessary/contingent distinctions, led to further distancing from that period.69 For some, this was seen as inaugurating an era (p. 52) of ‘post-analytic philosophy’,70 but most simply saw it as initiating a new phase of analytic philosophy, with a deepening and broadening of its various concerns in a revised form. With metaphysics firmly back on the agenda, ‘analytic metaphysics’ developed, bringing with it a whole range of issues, from the ontology of possible worlds to the metaphysics of mind.71 This reinforced reconnection with the earliest phase of analytic philosophy, when metaphysics had not been repudiated,72 and even pushed back the boundaries of what counts as this earliest phase, to include such remoter ancestors as Bolzano, who had criticized Kantian modal conceptions long before Quine, Kripke, and others.73

2.7 The Historical Turn in Analytic Philosophy

In his introduction to Frege: Philosophy of Language, Dummett notoriously claimed that Frege’s Begriffsschrift ‘is astonishing because it has no predecessors: it appears to have been born from Frege’s brain unfertilized by external influences’ (1973, p. xxxv). He repeats the claim in his second book on Frege, alleging further that the philosophical system Frege constructed on the basis of his logic ‘owed, I believe, not very much more to previous philosophical work than did his formal logic to previous work in that field’ (1981a, p. xvii). In creating quantificational logic, Frege’s Begriffsschrift was indeed revolutionary, and his philosophy was undoubtedly driven by concern to articulate a corresponding epistemology and metaphysics;74 but all this was far from unfertilized by external influences. Sluga was the first to show how mistaken Dummett’s historiography was, and since then much light has been shed on both the philosophical and the mathematical context of Frege’s work.75 To take just one example: we now know that the (p. 53) very name ‘Begriffsschrift’ shows the influence of Trendelenburg and, through him, of Wilhelm von Humboldt.76

The controversy over the interpretation of Frege brought to a head the growing sense, even within the analytic tradition, of the impoverished understanding that analytic philosophers had of their own history and of historiographical issues.77 Historiographical debates had already been going on in history and philosophy of science, inspired, in particular, by Kuhn’s paradigm-shifting work of 1962, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. This had encouraged more detailed investigation of the historical development of science, and deeper reflection about methodology, led, most notably, by Lakatos, whose work was published in the 1970s. In history of ideas, and especially history of political thought, too, there was increasing discussion of historiography, Skinner’s ‘Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas’ of 1969 being particularly influential. In 1979 Rorty’s Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature appeared, which put grand narratives back on the table at the same time as questioning the continued existence of analytic philosophy (see e.g. p. 172), thereby raising the stakes for the historiographical self-consciousness of analytic philosophers.

In 1984, Rorty, Schneewind, and Skinner edited a landmark collection of papers entitled ‘Philosophy in History’. Part I contains historiographical essays and Part II case-studies, including three in history of analytic philosophy: on Frege (by Sluga), Moore (by Baldwin), and Russell (by Hylton). In his own contribution to Part I Rorty distinguishes and discusses four genres in the historiography of philosophy: rational reconstruction, historical reconstruction, Geistesgeschichte, and doxography. The first three correspond, more or less, to Nietzsche’s three species of history: critical, antiquarian, and monumental, respectively. Rational reconstruction we have already noted is illustrated by Russell’s early book on Leibniz and is the most characteristic genre in analytic philosophy. Dummett’s first book on Frege provides another example, though here there are also aspects of Geistesgeschichte—monumentalizing Frege in the history of philosophy as the first person (rightly, on Dummett’s view) to make the theory of meaning the foundation of all philosophy.78 Rorty characterizes Geistesgeschichte as ‘big sweeping’ stories that aim at ‘self-justification in the same way as does rational reconstruction, but on a different scale’ (1984, pp. 56–7). His own Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature clearly falls into this category. Geistesgeschichte play a central role in canon-formation, unlike doxography, which takes a canon for granted. Doxography, as Rorty conceives it, is based on the assumption that philosophical positions are eternally given, implying (p. 54) that history of philosophy is simply a matter of working out which positions a philosopher holds. As we have also already noted, doxography is illustrated in Frege’s and Russell’s writings on the history of philosophy.

Rational reconstructions and Geistesgeschichte inevitably prompt historical reconstruction, where antiquarian impulses seek to correct the distortions that the former involve. Sometimes this results in very detailed studies where antiquarianism rules; but it usually inspires accounts that combine rational and historical reconstruction in more satisfying ways. This is exactly what happened in the history of analytic philosophy—or the history of the historiography of analytic philosophy. At the beginning of the 1990s a wealth of works appeared that marked the beginning of history of analytic philosophy as a recognized subfield of philosophy. Two books on Russell, by Hylton (1990) and Griffin (1991), offered careful reconstructions of the development of Russell’s early views, setting new standards of scholarship. This was reinforced by Baldwin’s book on Moore (1990), which provided the first substantial account of the full range of Moore’s philosophy. Weiner’s book on Frege sought to show how Frege’s philosophical thinking emerged out of his mathematical concerns, rejecting the assumption that Frege could be treated as ‘truly one of us’ (1990, p. 2). A collection of Diamond’s papers appeared (1991), which included her influential readings of Frege and Wittgenstein that were to inspire the ‘New Wittgenstein’ debate a decade later (see especially Crary and Read 2000). Monk’s biography of Wittgenstein was published (1990), which, alongside McGuinness’ earlier biography of the young WittgenStein (1988), provided much-needed context to Wittgenstein’s often enigmatic remarks. A new collection on the analytic tradition reflected the historical turn that was taking place (Bell and Cooper 1990), and Coffa’s long-awaited book on logical positivism appeared, reconstructing a ‘semantic tradition’, as he called it (1991). Uebel also published a monograph on logical positivism (1992), elucidating the internal debates within the Vienna Circle. Simons brought out a collection of essays on the Central European tradition in analytic philosophy (1992). Dummett made two further important contributions: Frege: Philosophy of Mathematics (1991a), the sequel to his first book on Frege, was far more sensitive to the development of Frege’s thinking; and Frege and Other Philosophers (1991b), a collection of his papers, contained responses to some of his critics. Two years later he also published Origins of Analytical Philosophy (1993a), goaded by the Zeitgeist, but bizarrely, discussing only Frege and Husserl. Bell’s book on Husserl (1990), written from an analytic perspective, also helped encourage dialogue between analytic philosophers and phenomenologists, even if controversy is never far away in such dialogue.

These books transformed the landscape of analytic philosophy.79 In the new constituent field of history of analytic philosophy, articles, monographs, collections, biographies, and autobiographies have been appearing with ever increasing frequency.80 Coupled with a stream of new editions and translations of the work of analytic (p. 55) philosophers (both well-known and lesser-known) and the burgeoning textbook industry that seeks to introduce that work to new generations of students right across the world, history of analytic philosophy now rivals more established areas of history of philosophy, such as history of ancient Greek philosophy and history of early modern philosophy, in terms of the number of academics that record it as one of their research and teaching interests.81

In general, however, standards of historical scholarship in history of analytic philosophy have not yet reached the level that they are in history of ancient Greek philosophy and early modern philosophy. Rational reconstructions are still offered that have not learnt from the historical studies that are now available. Impressive as it may be as a series of rational reconstructions of canonical texts in the history of analytic philosophy, Soames’ Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century (2003), for example, still presents Russell’s theory of descriptions without mentioning Russell’s earlier theory of denoting; thinking through the problems faced by the latter is what actually led Russell to the former.82 Doxography, too, will always be a temptation that serious history of philosophy must avoid. It is all too easy to take a canon for granted and ignore broader questions of context and connection, questions that are essential to address in developing awareness of the contingency and negotiability of canons.

In his discussion of historiography, Rorty criticizes doxography for its complacency about canon-formation. But he stresses how the other three genres complement one another. He notes that there is a ‘hermeneutic circle’ of rational and historical reconstruction, around which one must go many times before doing either sort of reconstruction, and talks of the tension between rational and historical reconstruction that generates the need for the self-justification that Geistegeschichte provides.83 Ideally, balance between the genres should be struck in all work in history of philosophy; but this would be unrealistic. A more tolerant attitude is to recognize the diversity of approaches and encourage that diversity in the hope that the balance will be achieved over time in the ongoing and self-correcting work of the academic community as a whole.84

(p. 56) In 2007 a new book series on the history of analytic philosophy was established, the first series of its kind, and the first volume was published in 2008.85 In 2010, following the founding of the Society for the Study of the History of Analytical Philosophy, an online Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy was launched, again the first of its kind, and its first issue appeared in 2011.86 In the case of both the series and the journal, ‘history of analytic philosophy’ is understood broadly, to include interconnections with other traditions and the work of philosophers who might be regarded as outside the analytic tradition. In both cases, too, the interaction between history of analytic philosophy and contemporary analytic philosophy is stressed, an interaction that is seen as mutually beneficial. The present Oxford Handbook draws on and deepens the historical turn that has taken place in analytic philosophy, and the range of contributions from leading scholars that it contains testifies to the richness and significance of the work that is now being done in the field.

2.8 Analytic Philosophy and History of Analytic Philosophy

The historical turn in analytic philosophy has given fresh impetus and added relevance to the debates about the relationship between philosophy and history of philosophy that have taken place since the emergence of analytic philosophy. Analytic philosophers are now more aware that their rational reconstructions are contested, that interpretations of the views even of their own immediate predecessors cannot be taken for granted, that their own concepts, doctrines, positions, and problems have a history, that their assumptions have a context that may need to be explained, that there have been changes and fashions in their own tradition, and so on. I conclude this chapter by saying something in defence of the historical turn that has taken place.

As we have seen, from its origins in the work of Frege and Russell, analytic philosophy has had ahistorical tendencies. Analytic philosophers have engaged in history of philosophy, but often only to the extent of offering—or sometimes simply borrowing—rational (p. 57) reconstructions to further their own projects. They have tended to be uninterested in doing justice to the philosophers whose work they reconstruct, or in getting the historical facts right.87 Given that the early analytic philosophers were all realists, this might seem ironic. Their mathematical and scientific realism, or epistemological and metaphysical realism, seems not to have been matched by any respect for historical realism. Such analytic philosophers need not repudiate historical realism; they may complain as loudly as anyone else when their own views are misinterpreted. Rather, they simply deny its relevance: while there are historical facts of the matter about philosophers’ actual views, this is for the historian to establish, not the philosopher. On their view, philosophical concepts, doctrines, positions, and problems are independent of their articulation by any particular person, and hence their attribution or misattribution to anyone is of no ultimate significance.

This is not the place for a full critique of ahistoricism.88 I will make just four points here, drawing on what has been said in both this and the previous chapter. First of all, philosophical terminology is created and shaped by the uses of the past, and is essentially and inevitably contested, even if there are periods of consensus or local contexts where there is relative agreement. In the historical longer run, clarification is always needed, which requires serious engagement with past philosophical views. This is most obviously so when terms like ‘Kantian’, ‘Fregean’, or ‘Russellian’ are in play. To use such terms is to accept a commitment to justify that use by reference to some view that Kant, Frege, or Russell, respectively, actually held at some point. But there are similar commitments in the case of terms such as ‘analytic’ or ‘necessary’. In defining ‘analytic’ in the way he did in the Foundations, for example, Frege transformed Kant’s notion, even if he himself wrote that he did not intend to introduce a new sense, ‘but only to capture what earlier writers, in particular Kant, have meant’ (1884, § 3). To what extent this is actually so requires investigation of what Kant meant and any assessment of a claim about the ‘analyticity’ of a proposition requires explanation of the intended sense.

Of course, one might respond that as long as one defines what one means by a term, one can use it (Humpty-Dumpty-like) in whatever way one wants. However, any such definition will itself use further terms, and as Frege recognized, not everything can be defined, and at some point, at the most basic level, we have to rely on a ‘meeting of minds’. So elucidation, as he called it, is always required; and this, too, as I suggested in section 2.2, has an historical dimension, since new views need to be positioned within the historical space of previous views if they are to be properly understood.89

(p. 58) This leads on to a second criticism of ahistoricism. Philosophical concepts, doctrines, positions, and problems can indeed be regarded as independent of their articulation by any particular person—but only up to a point, or within local contexts, contexts that embed shared presuppositions or where a ‘meeting of minds’ can be relied upon. Debates involving those concepts, doctrines, positions, and problems depend on these shared presuppositions, which may not be explicitly articulated by the protagonists, but some of which may well need to be recognized for the debates to progress—whether to deepen the arguments, resolve the disagreements, overcome any stalemates, or diagnose any mistaken assumptions. As mentioned in section 2.4 above, Stebbing admitted that the Cambridge School of Analysis involved presuppositions that she was unable to justify, and this prompted Collingwood to criticize analytic philosophy for this failing, and later, more constructively, to articulate a view of philosophy in which the identification of presuppositions was its primary goal. Arguably, Collingwood went too far in the other direction, in advocating too strong a form of historicism, but I think he was right to see the identification of presuppositions as an important aim of philosophy, and one which requires history of philosophy in its pursuit.

Logicism provides a good example. In denying that mathematics is reducible to logic, Kant presupposed that logic was Aristotelian logic (and was right in his denial). In arguing that arithmetic can be reduced to logic, Frege had to expand the domain of logic, and today it is often presupposed that logic means Fregean logic (or some extension of it). Resolving debates about logicism, then, cannot proceed without clarification of what is meant by ‘logic’, in other words, without identification of the relevant presuppositions.90 Another example is the distinction between psychological genesis and logical justification, which might be seen as one of the most fundamental presuppositions of analytic philosophy, from which its ahistoricism follows. Once we recognize this presupposition and understand its historical source, however, we see that it is shared with neo-Kantianism and British idealism, and hence that ahistoricism is not an inevitable consequence. It may have been questioned only relatively recently in the analytic tradition; but history of philosophy reveals alternative views of the relationship between philosophy and history of philosophy that are much healthier.

Ahistoricism is undermined, thirdly, when we appreciate how much of actual philosophical discourse involves engagement with the ideas of past philosophers. Philosophy is essentially ‘talking with a tradition’, to use Brandom’s words.91 This can be obscured by the scientism that inhabits some regions of analytic philosophy. This is reflected, for example, in views of philosophical research based on scientific models: to work at the ‘cutting-edge’ of the discipline involves reading the very latest articles published in, say, (p. 59) Mind or Analysis, and coming up with criticisms, counterexamples, further arguments, or alternative theories in response. To read only the very latest articles, however, is not to philosophize in some purified atmosphere: one cannot breathe in an ahistorical vacuum. The past is simply telescoped into a shorter time-frame; and once debate develops, the time-frame inevitably expands to reveal its historical roots and engagement with tradition becomes more and more explicit.92

Finally, bringing these last two points together, philosophizing always reflects, invokes, or presupposes some kind of underlying narrative, whether grand or modest, which reveals the location in the historical space of philosophical traditions. This narrative may be explicitly articulated in the main text of publications, but more often than not is implicitly exhibited in what Derrida (1972) called the ‘margins’ of philosophy—in prefaces, footnotes, correspondence, off-the-cuff remarks, gossip, and so on. It is imbibed in learning to philosophize in a certain way, and is in turn transmitted through teaching and discussion. It may be publicly defended, but will typically be taken for granted in the culture or context in which the philosophizing occurs, and may function at subconscious levels. We are thrown into a particular philosophical life-world, in other words, and history of philosophy is required to appreciate our philosophical Dasein and hence to transcend our historical embodiment.

The narratives that form our philosophical self-identity may well involve distorted views of the past, myths, misinterpretations, and so on. These ‘shadow histories’, as Watson (1993) called them, may be even more important than real histories.93 Dummett saw Frege as rebelling against German idealism, for example,94 while Russell is all too readily assumed to have slain Bradley.95 Carnap’s infamous attack on Heidegger’s supposed ‘pseudo-statement’ that ‘The Nothing itself nothings’ (‘Das Nichts selbst nichtet’) has become a classic of uncharitable interpretation,96 and the literature on Wittgenstein is full of exotic characters, from Russellstein to Kripkenstein and now New Wittgenstein (or various New Wittgensteins).97 Myths are contagious, however, and sooner or later (p. 60) these shadow histories require correction. If analytic philosophers prize truth, clarity, and rigour, and wish to divest themselves of the ‘local and temperamental bias’ of which Russell spoke (see section 2.3 above), then they should extend their analytic methods to investigating and correcting their own narratives and self-identities.

All four points suggest ways in which philosophy has an intrinsically historical dimension and in which history of philosophy is essential to philosophy. History of philosophy plays a crucial role in clarifying concepts, doctrines, positions, and problems; it identifies presuppositions and opens up alternative views; it makes us appreciate the tradition in which our conversations take place; and it develops self-consciousness and corrects shadow histories. Analytic philosophy has become the tradition in which much philosophizing is now pursued, so that talking with the analytic tradition may form one’s first conversations. In this context, it is inevitable that history of analytic philosophy should have emerged. History of analytic philosophy is analytic philosophy come to self-consciousness; it provides the forum for richer dialogues with the past, combining in multifarious ways monumental, antiquarian, and critical history, rational and historical reconstruction. This has also expanded the repertoire of methods of analysis on which philosophers can draw, through various forms of historical and textual analysis—genealogical analysis, presuppositional analysis, hermeneutics, deconstructional analysis, among others. Analysis itself has been deepened and broadened, synthesizing, we might say, logical/conceptual and historical/textual modes of analysis.

The spread of analytic philosophy across the world, and its ramification into all subfields of philosophy and into interdisciplinary projects, is also cultivating new dialogues with other traditions and disciplines, which will in turn transform them all, reconfiguring their conceptual and historical interconnections. This will require new analyses, interrogations, and narratives that renegotiate the positioning and oppositioning involved in those traditions and disciplines, in the ways we have seen exemplified in the account given here of the construction of the analytic tradition. The future for history of analytic philosophy—and for augmented and invigorated analytic philosophy—promises new enlightenment. Explicare aude! Have courage to offer your own (historically informed) analyses!


(1) I discuss the role of what I call ‘historical elucidation’ in Frege’s Foundations in Beaney 2006a, and the significance of Russell’s ‘rational reconstruction’ of Leibniz in Beaney 2013a. For an account of Moore’s ‘refutation’ of idealism, see Baldwin 1990, ch. 1.

(2) See the chronology of analytic philosophy and its historiography that follows this chapter.

(3) Defining ‘neo-Kantianism’ has proved controversial. In its narrowest sense, it covers the philosophy of the so-called Marburg and Southwest Schools, originating in the work of Hermann Cohen and Wilhelm Windelband, respectively, dating from the early 1870s. More broadly, it also covers earlier philosophers writing after Kant, who in some way concerned themselves with Kant’s philosophy, such as Kuno Fischer, Hermann Lotze, and Otto Liebmann (who originated the ‘Back to Kant’ slogan in 1865), as well as other philosophers not directly associated with the two main schools such as Hans Vaihinger and, more controversially, Wilhelm Dilthey. Gabriel (2002) suggests that Lotze is the founder of neo-Kantianism; while Anderson (2005) distinguishes between ‘orthodox’ and ‘non-orthodox’ neo-Kantianism, the former corresponding to the narrower sense just identified. In his helpful account of the relationship between neo-Kantianism and anti-psychologism, Anderson defines orthodox neo-Kantianism precisely by its commitment to anti-psychologism, in emphasizing both the objectivity and the normativity of logical and philosophical principles. The concern with normativity is an important feature, according to Anderson, and rules out as orthodox neo-Kantians others such as Frege and Husserl who also stressed the objectivity of logic (2005, pp. 291, 305–6). On the nature of neo-Kantianism, cf. also Köhnke 1986; Adair-Toteff 2003; Makkreel and Luft 2010.

(4) On Lotze’s influence on Frege, see Gabriel’s chapter in this Handbook. On the importance of the distinction between psychological genesis and logical justification in analytic philosophy, see Beaney 2013a.

(5) See Schultz 2011.

(6) See especially Collingwood 1946/1993. On the development of Collingwood’s views on historiography, see Wilson 2001.

(7) For further discussion of this work, see Walsh 1984.

(8) See Tappenden’s chapter in this Handbook.

(9) For an account of the debates about psychologism, especially around the turn of the twentieth century, see Kusch 1995, 2011; cf. Travis 2006b. On the relationship between philosophy and psychology, see also Reed 1994; Hatfield 2002, 2012. On the development of naturalistic forms of analytic philosophy of mind, see Crawford’s chapter in this Handbook.

(10) Hookway (2008 and Bernstein (2010 do not mention Nietzsche at all in their accounts of pragmatism. But Rorty (1998) does count Nietzsche as a fellow pragmatist, citing Berthelot 1911 as the first work in which Nietzsche is classified with James and Dewey and where Nietzsche is first called a ‘German pragmatist’. Cf. also Rorty 1991, p. 2.

(11) One of the aims of the detailed chronology that follows this chapter is to provide further reminders of the richness not only of the analytic tradition itself but also of the broader scientific and philosophical context in which analytic philosophy developed.

(12) On aspects of the background to analytic philosophy, see the chapters by Gabriel, Skorupski, Tappenden, and Hyder in this Handbook, and on the relationship of analytic philosophy to British idealism, pragmatism, and phenomenology, see the chapters by Griffin, Misak, and Smith, respectively. For substantial accounts of British idealism, American pragmatism, and phenomenology, see Mander 2011, Misak 2013, and Moran 2000, respectively.

(13) See Beaney 2006a. For Frege’s use, see Frege 1899 [1980], pp. 36–7 (where Frege talks of ‘Erläuterungssätze’—‘elucidatory propositions’); 1906 [1967], pp. 288–9 (in Frege 1984, pp. 300–1, ‘Erläuterung’ is mistranslated as ‘explication’); 1914 [1997], pp. 313–14 (in Frege 1979, pp. 207–8, ‘Erläuterung’ is mistranslated as ‘illustrative example’). For further discussion of elucidation, see e.g. Weiner 1990, ch. 6, 2001, 2005; Conant 2002; Reck 2005, 2007.

(14) Frege was prompted, in particular, to read and criticize Boole’s work; see May and Heck’s chapter in this Handbook.

(15) His three seminal papers of 1891–2 can also be seen as essentially elucidatory papers, though here there is less historical positioning.

(16) See Griffin’s chapter in this Handbook.

(17) One of the few commentators to recognize its significance is Hunter (1993).

(18) For a fuller account of this, see Beaney 2013a.

(19) Russell first met Peano in August 1900, an event that Russell described as ‘a turning point in my intellectual life’ (1975, p. 147). His book on Leibniz was published in October, but he had finished writing it in March and had received the proofs in June. Only the preface was written after this turning point, in the same month—September 1900—as he first started extending Peano’s calculus to the logic of relations. (Cf. the chronology in Russell 1993, pp. liii–liv.) Russell called this month ‘the highest point of my life’ (1975, p. 148): a month that included both his recognition of the revolutionary power of the new logic and his presentation to the world of the first rational reconstruction in analytic history of philosophy.

(20) Russell’s concern with Leibniz, however, was accidental. He was asked to give a course of lectures on Leibniz in Cambridge in Lent Term 1899, in place of McTaggart, who was away at the time. Cf. Russell 1975, p. 136, 1993, p. 511.

(21) On this conception, cf. Rée 1978.

(22) See the previous chapter in this Handbook.

(23) The review occurs in an appendix to Cassirer’s own book on Leibniz (1902, pp. 532–41). Another review was by the Leibniz scholar and translator Robert Latta (1901). Both reviews are briefly discussed in Hunter 1993, pp. 407–9.

(24) For the range of Russell’s writings on other philosophers, see the various volumes of his Collected Papers.

(25) See especially Reichenbach 1951.

(26) For an account of the development of the idea of rational reconstruction, see Beaney 2013a. Cf. Schickore and Steinle 2006.

(27) As Nagel described one of the functions of analytic philosophy in 1936, ‘it requires quiet green pastures for intellectual analysis, wherein its practitioners can find refuge from a troubled world and cultivate their intellectual games with chess-like indifference to its course’ (1936, p. 9).

(28) Wilson 1926. For discussion of the Oxford realists, and in particular, Case and Cook Wilson, see Marion 2000, 2006a, 2006b, 2009. On Case’s and Cook Wilson’s perceptual realism, see Hatfield’s chapter in this Handbook; and on Cook Wilson’s influence on later Oxford philosophers, see Beaney 2012a, and Travis and Kalderon’s chapter.

(29) Spaulding’s contribution was called ‘A Defense of Analysis’, certainly suggesting that Russell and the new realists were kindred spirits.

(30) Drake et al. 1920. See also Sellars 1916. For a brief account of early twentieth-century American realism, see Kuklick 2001, ch. 11. The movement is often forgotten: it receives virtually no discussion in The Oxford Handbook of American Philosophy (Misak 2008, for example.

(31) On the Austrian tradition in analytic philosophy, see Nyirí 1981, 1986; Simons 1992, 1999; Smith 1994; Textor 2006. Australian realism can be taken to begin in 1927, when Anderson (who had been influenced by Alexander, in particular went to Sydney as Challis Professor of Philosophy and published ‘Empiricism’; see Baker 1986; Armstrong 2001.

(32) See §1.1 of the previous chapter; and for more on Russell’s and Moore’s conceptions of analysis, and the range of conceptions that we find in the history of philosophy, see Beaney 2007c, 2009a.

(33) See Russell 1918, 1924a; repr. together in Russell 1972. Russell’s and Wittgenstein’s logical atomism are discussed together in, for example, Urmson 1956, Part I. The first monograph on Wittgenstein’s logical atomism is Griffin 1964. On Russell’s logical atomism, see also Klement 2009, and on Wittgenstein’s logical atomism, see Proops 2007.

(34) The article was later reprinted in Twentieth Century Philosophy: Living Schools of Thought, edited by Runes (1943. It opens Part II, which also includes chapters on Kantianism, Hegelianism, Thomist humanism, transcendental absolutism (by Santayana), personalism, phenomenology, logical empiricism (by Feigl), American realism, pragmatism (by Dewey), dialectical materialism, naturalism, and philosophies of China. The crudity of Russell’s typology is thus shown up by the rest of the book. The book also shows that ‘analytic philosophy’ is still far from being recognized as a distinct, let alone dominant, tradition.

(35) Collingwood 1939, p. 44, in the chapter entitled ‘The Decay of Realism’. For an account of his critique of the Oxford realists, see Beaney 2013b.

(36) In commenting on Russell’s paradox, in correspondence with Bosanquet in 1903, Cook Wilson had written: ‘I am afraid I am obliged to think that a man is conceited as well as silly to think such puerilities are worthy to be put in print: and it’s simply exasperating to think that he finds a publisher (where was the publisher’s reader?), and that in this way such contemptible stuff can even find its way into examinations’ (1926, II, p. 739). As Ayer later put it, Cook Wilson ‘had sat like Canute rebuking the advancing tide of mathematical logic’ (1977, p. 77).

(37) In A Hundred Years of British Philosophy (1935 [1938]), Metz has a chapter on ‘The Older Realism’ (52 pages), discussing Case and Cook Wilson, among others, and a chapter on ‘The New Realism’ (175 pages), discussing Moore, Russell, and Whitehead, among others.

(38) Bentham 1843, p. 246; quoted by Wisdom 1931, p. 92. On the significance of the idea of paraphrasis, see Beaney 2009a, §6. Cf. also Quine 1981b, pp. 68–9.

(39) Three years later, in Problems of Mind and Matter, Wisdom does indeed talk of ‘analytic philosophy’: he writes that his book is intended as an introduction to it, though he stresses that analytic philosophy ‘has no special subject matter’ (1934, p. 2). Ryle, by contrast, never uses the term. In fact, his attack on ‘isms’ in philosophy (1937b) and his qualms about the notion of analysis (see e.g. 1957, pp. 263–4) suggests outright opposition to its use, even though he would agree with Wisdom that philosophy is an activity rather than a science. Cf. § 1.4 of the previous chapter.

(40) For an account of Collingwood’s critique of analytic philosophy, see Beaney 2001; cf. 2005c.

(41) On analysis, see also the supplementary volumes of the Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society published in 1934, where the question ‘Is analysis a useful method in philosophy?’ is debated by Black, Wisdom, and Cornforth, and 1937, where the question ‘Does philosophy analyse common sense?’ is debated by Duncan-Jones and Ayer.

(42) Stebbing 1933a. Cf. Black 1938. For an account of Stebbing’s work on analysis, see Beaney 2003b. On the debate about analysis in the Cambridge School of Analysis, see Baldwin’s chapter in this Handbook.

(43) As mentioned in n. 34 above, the collection on Twentieth Century Philosophy published in 1943, for example, makes no reference to ‘analytic philosophy’ as a distinct tradition.

(44) For details of some of the most significant visits, see the chronology that follows this chapter.

(45) For the record, the philosophers whose work is canonized are (in order of appearance): Feigl, Kneale, Quine, Tarski, Frege, Russell, Carnap, Lewis, Schlick, Aldrich, Ajdukiewicz, Nagel, Waismann, Hempel, Reichenbach, Moore, Stace, Sellars, Broad, Chisholm, Mace, Ducasse, Stevenson. Davidson (1980, p. 261) reports that he got through graduate school by reading Feigl and Sellars.

(46) The same caution had been urged by Black twelve years earlier (1938, p. 24). Black’s caution provides a straightforward counterexample to Preston’s claim that, from its earliest uses until at least the 1960s, ‘“analytic philosophy” in the nominative sense was employed clearly and consistently to refer to…a school of philosophy’, understood as defined doctrinally (2007, p. 79). Preston does not mention Black’s work. As I hope this chapter shows, the history of the construction of the analytic tradition is much more complex—and explicable—than Preston makes out in his claim that it is just the history of an illusion (on the grounds that there are no defining doctrines); cf. n. 56 in chapter 1 above. For criticism of Preston’s claim, see Beaney 2007e.

(47) The first edition was published in the United States in 1953, but not in Britain until 1956, however. The first and second editions open with a chapter on philosophy and language, aimed at showing how philosophical problems can be clarified and some of them solved or dissolved by attention to the language in which they are formulated. The chapter was deleted in the third edition of 1990, but—after complaints—restored in a shorter form in the fourth edition of 1997, a history that is itself revealing of the development of analytic philosophy. The first chapter of the first edition is entitled ‘Words and the World’ and of the second edition (1967) ‘Meaning and Definition’, for example. The original title was restored in the fourth edition. On the changes here, see Hospers’ preface to the fourth edition.

(48) For discussion of this debate, see the chapters by Baghramian and Jorgensen and by Shieh in this Handbook.

(49) See Crawford’s chapter in this Handbook. For some other articles published in 1956, see the chronology that follows this chapter. Mention might also be made, for example, of the article by Chisholm in which he defends Brentano’s thesis that intentionality is the mark of the psychological. A translation of Tarski’s seminal paper on truth (1933) was also published that year.

(50) On the importance of recognizing this, see Floyd 2009, especially p. 164; and for more on this theme, see Floyd’s chapter in this Handbook.

(51) For an account of the range of different conceptions of analysis, see Beaney 2009a. On the distinction between reductive and connective analysis, see Strawson 1992, ch. 2.

(52) On the development of analytic political philosophy and analytic aesthetics, respectively, see Wolff’s and Lamarque’s chapters in this Handbook.

(53) For many more see the chronology that follows this chapter.

(54) Rorty notes in his introduction (1967, p. 9) that the term ‘the linguistic turn’ was introduced by Bergmann. Bergmann uses it in his review of Strawson’s Individuals (Bergmann 1960). On Bergmann and the significance of the linguistic turn, see Hacker’s chapter in this Handbook.

(55) The first edition contains a (weak) chapter on logic, removed in the second edition on the (mistaken) grounds that it was no longer characteristic of English philosophy. However, he does add (justifiably) some paragraphs on Cook Wilson. (Cf. his preface to the second edition.)

(56) As well as incorporating revisions, the second edition also contains an additional final chapter entitled ‘Description, Explanation or Revision?’, responding to the issues raised by Strawson’s Individuals (1959).

(57) Only six years separate the first and second editions, but a third edition was published in 1978. Here Warnock adds a postscript on, among other works, Rawls’ Theory of Justice, noting in her preface that it no longer seems possible to distinguish moral from political philosophy. On developments in ethics and political philosophy in the analytic tradition, see the chapters by Dancy, Driver, and Wolff in this Handbook.

(58) The proceedings were published in Cahiers de Royaumont, 1962.

(59) See especially Overgaard 2010; Vrahimis 2013.

(60) Despite making this point, Leiter and Rosen persist in using the term ‘continental philosophy’ for what they call ‘(primarily) philosophy after Kant in Germany and France in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries’, on the grounds of there being no better alternative term, though they only consider ‘post-Kantian’ and ‘post-Hegelian’ (2007b, p. 2). Of course, they can hardly avoid so persisting in a Handbook of Continental Philosophy, but that the ‘Continent’ should be identified (even ‘primarily’) with Germany and France is only the most immediately obvious objection. For much fuller discussion of the question ‘What is continental philosophy?’, and attempts to (re)construct a tradition out of all the disparate ‘non-analytic’ traditions of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Western philosophy, see Critchley 1997, 2001; Glendinning 1999b, 2006; Boundas 2007c; cf. Mulligan 1991b. A far more monumental construction is provided by Schrift 2010–. On the controversial relationship between analytic and ‘continental’ philosophy, see Agostini 1997; Akehurst 2008; Buckle 2004; Campbell 2001; Carman 2007; Chase and Reynolds 2011; Cooper 1994; Dascal 2001; Egginton and Sandbothe 2004; Glendinning 2002; Glock 2008, ch. 3; Himanka 2000; Levy 2003; Mandelbaum 1962; May 2002; Prado 2003; Reynolds et al. 2010; Richmond 1996; Rosen 2001; Simons 2001; Staten 1984; Williams 1996 (where the analytic/continental distinction is compared to dividing cars into front-wheel drive and Japanese; p. 25.

(61) Ryle 1962 [1971a], p. 189. Ryle’s paper was called ‘Phenomenology versus “The Concept of Mind”’, and he provocatively suggests that his own book ‘could be described as a sustained essay in phenomenology, if you are at home with that label’ (p. 196). A few years earlier, Austin had suggested that he was doing ‘linguistic phenomenology’ (1956 [1979], p. 182).

(62) The exception, of course, was Russell, who had provided the first account in English of Frege’s philosophy in Appendix A of The Principles of Mathematics in 1903. Carnap’s Meaning and Necessity of 1947 also contains significant discussion of Frege’s ideas.

(63) Many of these were reprinted in Klemke 1968, the first collection of papers on Frege.

(64) Cf. Anscombe 1959, p. 12. On the importance of Anscombe’s book for our understanding of Wittgenstein, see Diamond’s chapter in this Handbook. For further discussion of the influence of Frege on Wittgenstein, see the works cited in n. 17 of the previous chapter.

(65) For more on the importance of Frege in the development of history of analytic philosophy, see Floyd 2009, § 4.

(66) See the papers collected in Davidson 1984.

(67) On the development of theories of meaning, see Miller’s chapter in this Handbook.

(68) On linguistic philosophy as comprised of these two strands, see especially Rorty 1967 (as mentioned above). The rise and fall (and historical construction) of linguistic philosophy deserves its own separate treatment. For accounts, see Hacking 1975; Hanfling 2000; Hallett 2008; Beaney 2012a. For classic critiques of linguistic philosophy, see Gellner 1959; Mundle 1970.

(69) For an account of the work of Quine, Kripke, and Putnam, see Baghramian and Jorgensen’s chapter in this Handbook.

(70) For references, see n. 7 of the previous chapter.

(71) For an account of metaphysics in the analytic tradition, see Simons’ chapter in this Handbook.

(72) On the metaphysics of early analytic philosophy, see Beaney 2012b.

(73) On Bolzano’s critique of Kant, see Lapointe 2011, and Textor’s chapter in this Handbook.

(74) I talk neutrally here of ‘corresponding’, since the question of the relative priority of Frege’s logic, epistemology, and metaphysics is controversial. I am convinced, however, that Frege’s philosophy essentially arose from thinking through the implications of his use of function–argument analysis, extended from mathematics to logic. For elaboration of this, see e.g. Beaney 2007d, 2011a, 2012b.

(75) See especially Sluga 1980, and for subsequent accounts of Frege that are more historically informed, see e.g. Baker and Hacker 1984a; Weiner 1990; Carl 1994; Beaney 1996; Burge 2005 (which collects together his papers on Frege from 1979 onwards); Kienzler 2009; Künne 2010. On the historical context of Frege’s work, see especially Gabriel and Kienzler 1997; Gabriel and Dathe 2000; the papers in vol. 1 of Beaney and Reck 2005; and Gabriel’s chapter in this Handbook. On the mathematical background, see the papers in vol. 3 of Beaney and Reck 2005; Tappenden 2005, 2006; Wilson 2010; Hallett 2010; and Tappenden’s chapter in this Handbook. On Frege’s influence on subsequent philosophy, see Burge’s chapter.

(76) See Thiel 1995/2005; Gabriel’s chapter in this Handbook.

(77) Other controversies that might be mentioned here include the debate about Kripke’s interpretation of Wittgenstein’s remarks on rule-following and private language, and the question of the influences on Carnap and other members of the Vienna Circle. Early criticisms of Kripke’s interpretation include Baker and Hacker 1984b and McGinn 1984. Investigation of the influences on Carnap was spearheaded by Coffa and Friedman in the early 1980s. Coffa’s work was eventually published in 1991, and a collection of Friedman’s papers appeared in 1999.

(78) See especially 1973, ch. 19; 1981a, ch. 3.

(79) For further discussion of the historical turn in analytic philosophy, see the papers in Reck 2013.

(80) For some of the highlights, see the chronology and bibliography that follow this chapter.

(81) Ten years ago, only a handful of philosophers recorded history of analytic philosophy as an area of research specialism or teaching competence. Today most medium or large English-speaking departments have at least one person who gives this as one of their areas. In Leiter’s ‘Philosophical Gourmet Report’ <>, history of analytic philosophy (including Wittgenstein is one of the specialities evaluated, one of nine history of philosophy specialities.

(82) Soames’ work has been especially controversial. For reviews, see e.g. Kremer 2005; Rorty 2005; Beaney 2006b; Hacker 2006; Wilson 2006b. For his replies to critics, see Soames 2006a, 2006b. Cf. also Floyd 2009. For deeper understanding of Russell’s theory of descriptions, see Hylton 1990, 2003; Linsky and Imaguire 2005; Stevens 2011.

(83) 1984, p. 53, fn. 1; p. 68. I discuss rational and historical reconstruction further, and offer my own resolution of the tension in what I call ‘dialectical reconstruction’, in Beaney 1996, ch. 1; 2013a.

(84) This has been the editorial policy in the present Handbook, within the obvious constraints of seeking representative coverage of the main philosophers, views, and themes.

(85) The series was inspired by Candlish’s monograph on the Russell/Bradley dispute (2007, which was reissued in paperback as the third volume of the series (see Beaney 2009b). The first volume was Nasim 2008, and there are now over 20 volumes published, with many more in the pipeline. For the record, the volumes are, in order: Nasim 2008, Wagner 2009, Candlish 2009 [2007], Venturinha 2010, Coliva 2010, Lapointe 2011, Stevens 2011, Patterson 2012, Landini 2012, Duke 2012, Wagner 2012, Gandon 2012, Pardey 2012, Textor 2013, Korhonen 2013, Chapman 2013, Engelmann 2013, Reck 2013, D’Oro and Sandis 2013, Mulligan, Kijania-Placek and Placek 2013, Schaar 2013, Arana and Alvarez 2013, Griffin and Linsky 2013. For details, see the website for the series: <>. See also the chronology that follows this chapter.

(86) Information on the Society and Journal can be found at: <> and <>, respectively.

(87) As Kripke notoriously put it in introducing his ‘sceptical interpretation’ of Wittgenstein’s remarks on rule-following, ‘my method is to present the argument as it struck me, as it presented a problem for me’ (1982, p. viii). Light was eventually shed on those remarks, but only by recognizing the differences between Kripkenstein, as Kripke’s Wittgenstein came to be called, and Wittgenstein himself.

(88) For fuller discussion, see especially the essays in Rorty, Schneewind, and Skinner 1984; Hare 1988; Sorell and Rogers 2005; Reck 2013. See also Glock 2008, ch. 4, and some of the replies in the special issue (no. 1) of Teorema, 30 (2011). For an account of the German historicist tradition, see Beiser 2011.

(89) Cf. Floyd’s discussion in her chapter in this Handbook of the ‘interpretive need’ that is left behind by every analysis or rigorization. Satisfying this interpretive need will also have an historical dimension.

(90) For discussion of the issues here, see MacFarlane 2002.

(91) The phrase forms the title of Part One of Brandom 2002. On Brandom’s inferentialist reworking of Gadamerian hermeneutics, grasp of conceptual content itself is understood as ‘the ability to navigate and negotiate between the different perspectives from which such a content can be interpreted (implicitly) or specified (explicitly)’ (2002, p. 109). Conversing with tradition is thus constitutive of understanding meaning. Brandom’s view is also influenced by Sellars’ conception of history of philosophy as the lingua franca of philosophy; Sellars 1973; cf. Floyd 2009, p. 167.

(92) In discussing the relationship between analytic philosophy and history of philosophy in correspondence with Isaiah Berlin, Morton White remarks: ‘Curiously enough, if one treats a contemporary writer one is thought to be original, whereas if one treats a far greater figure of the past, one is thought to be derivative or parasitical, or what have you. Nonsense, I say.’ He goes on to suggest how an historical work can be transformed into a ‘pure’, ‘original’ one: ‘One writes the first, with references to other people, pages, chapters, verses, expounding them and criticizing them; then one goes over the manuscript, carefully eliminating all the inverted commas and references, and starts talking about the theory of the ghost-in-the-machine or category mistakes or traditional dualism, etc., etc. Immediately one ceases to be Byzantine and becomes Greek, thereby becoming original and unparasitical. Nonsense, I say’ (1999, p. 248).

(93) For discussion and critique of one such shadow history, see Crawford’s chapter in this Handbook.

(94) See e.g. Dummett 1973, pp. 197–8, 541, 683–4.

(95) For critique of this assumption, see Candlish 2007.

(96) Carnap 1932a, § 5. Carnap’s attack is discussed by Friedman in A Parting of the Ways (2000); cf. Friedman 1996; Inwood 1999; Gabriel 2003; Witherspoon 2003.

(97) See Russell 1922; Kripke 1982; Crary and Read 2000; Read and Lavery 2011. On readings of Wittgenstein, see the chapters by Kremer, Glock, and Diamond in this Handbook.