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May 07, 2007



Interesting stuff, but I'd contest the claim that it's only w/ Dummett's book that analytic philosophers (whatever that means) became interested in the history of the movement. There has been a large group of philosophers, often associated (sometimes wrongly, I think) with Burten Dreben, who have done serious historical work on the development of analytic philosophy and have spent a lot of time working it out in a much clearer and interesting way than Dummett- people like Tom Ricketts (now at Pitt, at Penn and later Northwestern for a long time), Warren Goldfarb (Harvard), Peter Hylton (Illinois-Chicago), Michael Friedman (Stanford), Nancy Cartwright (LSE), Michael Kramer (Chicago), etc. Much of this work pre-dates Dummett's book and is independent of (and to my mind better) than it.

John Protevi

Matt, thanks for these references. Your point is well taken. Do you know of an online bibliography of work in history of AP?


I wrote my dissertation on Dummett, but I agree with Matt that the people he lists are at the minimum more helpful to read. I think most people take Dummett's history to be significant just because it restored Frege to his rightful place. Friedman's reappraisal of the logical positivists as heirs of Marburg school neo-Kantianism is just dynamite.

The big books people are talking about now are Scott Soames' recent volumes I and II of "Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century" (Princeton). From reading secondary sources on Soames' work, I think it is probably extraordinarily good, albeit (pace what I take Soames view to be, not having read the work) I don't think that Kripke's "Naming and Necessity" has heralded in a new day of metaphysics. [Digression- Kripke, Quineans like Putnam, and Goedel all did in the logical positivist's linguistic account of necessity, which according to some views was part of classical analytic philosophy (of course this is a cartoon, people like Friedman showing the original positivist's to have much more interesting views). Unfortunately, I think the possible worlds account that has canonically replaced it suffers from exactly analogous problems.]

Books I'd add to your list are MacIntyre's "After Virtue," Rorty's "Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature," and (perhaps most importantly) Rorty's edited volume "The Linguistic Turn." While people who agree with the substantive conclusions of these authors are probably in a small minority, I think their interpretation of the previous century's dialectic has been far more influential than most philosphers, analytic or continental, realize.

John Protevi

Hi Jon, thanks for these. I really enjoyed Rorty's review of Soames in the LRB: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v27/n02/print/rort01_.html

I don't pretend to get all the issues, but the review provided a good roadmap.

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