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Dummett Meaning As Use Notes

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Michael Dummett - Truth and other enigmas Can Analytic Philosophy be Systematic, and Ought it to Be?





* primarily means demonstrating a system of thought etc; a positive or normative theory
* also means adhering to an accepted methodology Can analytic philosophy be systematic (in the first sense)?
* yes, according to many American analytic philosophers such as Quine,
# analytic philosophy is 'at least cognate with the natural sciences'
* no, according to the later Wittgenstein and Austin
# sciences aim to establish truths, whereas philosophy aims to clarify conceptual confusion; to replace a distorted vision with an undistorted one; to untangle
* 'to possess a concept is to be the master of a certain fragment of language', hence if we are to do philosophy, we must understand language
* e.g. we must make explicit the implicit rules and principles of language
* philosophy does not tell us anything about what 'is to be seen' (what exists?); once the tangle is unpicked, the philosopher's work is done Austin rejects system through a total reliance on the actual uses of words
* if we study uses of words well enough without paying attention to 'the problems', they will solve themselves
* this is an unattractive viewpoint these days (1975) Brief history of analytic philosophy
* analytic philosophy is a cluster of schools, less disparate now (1975) than it once was. There are three primary reasons for this:
# 1. acceptance of the primacy and importance of Frege as the first analytic philosopher
# 2. American philosophers now big in Britain
# 3. the focus of philosophy has moved from linguistic philosophy - which assumed understanding of language and used it as a means (e.g. Austin?) - to philosophy of language: the attempt to generate a theory of language Frege shifted the starting point in philosophy from epistemology to logic and language
* it is only through the analysis of language that we can analyse thought
# thoughts, as opposed to other mental objects, appear to be wholly communicable
# we can only clearly understand thought thought through language - attempting to penetrate to the naked essence of the thought will lead to confusion between the thought and the subjective accompaniments of thinking
# in other words, pure, clear thought is necessarily filtered through language. If we are to understand thought, we must necessarily understand language
* for Frege and Wittgenstein, understanding of language is necessary and sufficient in order to understand thought - i.e. with that understanding, philosophy is complete The linguistic schools of analytic philosophy quickly stopped making contributions to theories of language
* e.g. logical positivists used the principle of verification as a weapon, without ever clearly outlining the coherent/complete theory of meaning or philosophy of language from which

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