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postanalytic philosophy


Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405168908.2010.x


A movement of thought that rejects many tenets of the mainstream (“analytical”) tradition dominant in Anglo-American philosophy since the 1920s. This tradition was characterized chiefly by the premise that everyday (natural) language may often give rise to error – or to “systematically misleading” forms of expression – by its failure to articulate logical distinctions with sufficient clarity or rigor. Hence (for instance) Gottlob F rege's canonical distinction between sense and reference , designed to explain how seemingly tautologous or pleonastic statements (like “the Evening Star is identical with the Morning Star”) may in fact possess informative content by virtue of our ability to grasp precisely that distinction. Bertrand Russell's “theory of descriptions” – as applied to the analysis of empty (nonreferring) expressions like “the present King of France” – was another paradigmatic example of this attempt to get beyond the surface confusions of everyday or ordinary language, and thereby reveal a more perspicuous order of logico-semantic form. The label “postanalytic” is one that is nowadays attached to so many diverse, loosely affiliated schools of thought that it might seem to lack any adequate definitional criteria. It is perhaps best described as a reactive movement, one that rejects any version of the drive to regiment language on a basis of clear-cut logical terms and ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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