What is Analytic Philosophy?

What is Analytic Philosophy?

Analytic philosophy also known as analytical philosophy is an early 20th century academic philosophical movement which emphasized that philosophy should apply logical techniques in order to achieve conceptual clarity. In other words the use of language to analyse philosophical problems. This philosophy was advanced by Cambridge philosophers the likes of Bertrand Russell and E. Moore. Analytic philosophy developed primarily in English speaking countries like U.S.A. and England. The main strands of analytic philosophy is both philosophy of language and logic.

Foundations of Analytic Philosophy.

The main foundations upon which analytic philosophy is based include:

1). The rejection of grand theories thereby favouring attention to detail as well as use of common sense and ordinary language against the pretentions of traditional metaphysics.

2). There is no specific philosophical truths and that the object of philosophy is the logical classification of thoughts.

3). Logical classification of thoughts can only be achieved by analysis of the logical form of philosophical propositions of philosophy.

Differentiation with Continental Philosophy

The main differentiation between the two philosophies comes from the methodology. Whereas Continental philosophy focuses on analysis or synthesis, analytic philosophy tries to solve philosophical problems mainly through analysis of thoughts and language.

Formalism and Natural Languages

As you know by now the main aim of analytic philosophical approach is to solve problems by examining and clarifying languages used to express such problems. This has led to major advances in study, recognizing the main importance of sense and reference in construction of meaning and differentiation between semantics and syntax. This was advanced by Bertrand Russell in the theory of definite descriptions.

Analytic philosophy and Ordinary language

Analytic traditions always seek to analyze the natural language often called the ordinary language spoken by the people example French, German or English. Rather than viewing a philosophical problem through a lens of formal logic, ordinary language philosophy tries to use ordinary linguistic terms to solve such philosophical problems.  Here is a closer look.

Logic atomism

Analytic philosophy centers around advancement of predicate logic. This has permitted sentences to be parsed into logical forms. Bertrand Russell adopted this philosophical tool as he sort to set clear distinctions in the different use of deferent words in various sentences.

Ethics in Analytic philosophy

In relation to its early advancement, philosophy had no set standards that governed it. Most always claimed that works brought forward were merely personal attitudes towards the given matter. In the later years people adopted the universal perspectivism which led to new interests thise philosophy governing ethics.

The History of Analytic Philosophy

The History of Analytic Philosophy

The Literal meaning of the word philosophy is, “the love of knowledge” but this does not capture much of the sense of this word. In many ways, philosophy is about questioning and understanding the world and about how we see it. By utilizing the techniques and procedure of philosophy and by learning how to love the search for knowledge we can find a portion of the value and significance of philosophy. Nothing else is quite as important and as disregarded as philosophical thought.

Philosophy as a Field

Philosophy is unique as a field. Rather than building on its self like most realms of study, the history of philosophy and philosophy itself are one and the same. Philosopher’s works are very rarely are usurped by more modern text; instead, modern text seeks to understand and interpret the works of past philosophers and, if refinements are present they are found more commonly as alternatives rather than replacements. Throughout this long history, philosophy has had thinker that were more influential than others who have contributed and advanced many thoughts and ideas to a variety of fields of philosophy and to this day much of their work is studied and analyzed by modern philosophers.

Philosophy is also known for is having a lot of “-isms”. It is true that philosophers have created many terms to categorize and describe their philosophy, in many ways the archaic terminology is necessary to cover the breadth of ideas philosophers yield. For example;

  • Rationalism – The philosophy that at least some things are knowable outside of experience,
  • Idealism – The philosophy that the world exists only as thought or in someone’s mind,
  • Materialism – The philosophy that in some sense a physical world does exist etc.

Philosophy is also typically divided into two main categories: by area of study, and whether the philosophy is analytic or continental. The primary fields of study within philosophy are typically broken down into the following 4 groups:

  • Metaphysics – the philosophical study of being
  • Epistemology – the philosophical study of knowledge,
  • Ethics and Aesthetics – the philosophical study of value
  • Logic – the philosophical study of correct reasoning. The bigger difference is in the analytic vs. continental divide. The difference is complicated but to put it simply:

Analytic philosophy focuses on logic and rigor and is typical of the English speaking world, whereas Continental philosophy is usually done on Continental Europe and covers, with much less rigor, a very wide variety of philosophers. In conclusion, to fully answer what philosophy is in a few short sentences is difficult. Philosophy covers, at least to some extent, all areas of human knowledge and any kind of definition you would give to it would far from doing the subject justice. To truly understand the spirit of philosophy nothings helps more than learning, thinking, and philosophizing. To quote one the philosophers, “Wonder is the feeling of the philosopher, and philosophy begins in wonder.”