This is the webpage for Philosophy 467/855 in Spring 2008. You should monitor this page regularly for news and updates relevant to the course. I'll put links to papers and other things that seem interesting for us. Most documents are pdf. You will need a pdf reader to view them. A reader is free and can be gotten from here.
This is a history of philosophy course, even though the Department has decided that the material is "too new" to count as history for your graduate or undergraduate programs. As if analytic philosophy is still being practiced by anyone!! [Don't get me started!]
Anyway, this course ("Middle-aged Analytic Philosophy") starts after what is called the early analytic philosophy phase of Gottlob Frege, (early) Bertrand Russell, and (very early) Ludwig Wittgenstein. I am starting with readings from 1924 by Russell. We will read this "logical atomism" of Russell's, follow it with a selection of readings from the "logical positivists", and follow that up with some "ordinary language philosophy". This latter material can be divided into three areas, roughly chronologically given as: informal ordinary language philosophy, systematic ordinary language philosophy, and finally some topics in the evidence that is relevant to ordinary language philosophy.
The course ends with material from the mid-1960s. After that, Analytic Philosophy was in its very old age; and soon thereafter it died (at least in the forms it had taken earlier - of course there are some philosophers who still describe themselves as analytic, but they don't really do the same thing).
Recall that although Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus was published in German in 1921 (and in English the year following), it wasn't until 1929 that it was used as the basis for a PhD from Cambridge. Frank Ramsey was the (official) supervisor, G.E. Moore and Bertrand Russell were the examiners at the Viva (as the final oral exams were called). Here is a "recreation" of Wittgenstein's Viva - sort of on the "unfriendly" side.
Your first reading should be Russell's 1924 article "Logical Atomism". It is in our Ayer anthology, as well as in various things on reserve in the library. If you are keen, try reading the much longer "Lectures on Logical Atomism" (1918), which is also in various things on reserve in the library.
There is a nice article on Russell's Logical Atomism in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy that you might like to look at. As a comparison with Wittgenstein, here is an article on Wittgenstein's logical atomism from the same Encyclopedia. And here is a prepublication version of an article by Bernard Linsky on the metaphysics of Russell's logical atomism. It was published in The Cambridge Companion to Russell (ed. N. Griffin, 2003).
I sent around an email about the readings for Logical Positivism. Here are the relevant portions:
The material on the Positivists is
Schlick "The Turning Point in Philosophy" (in Ayer)
Schlick "Positivism and Realism" (in Ayer)
Schlick "The Future of Philosophy" (in Rorty)
Carnap "The Elimination of Metaphysics Through Logical Analysis of Language" (in Ayer)
Carnap "On the Character of Philosophical Problems" (in Rorty)
Carnap "Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology" (in Rorty)
And of course
Ayer "Language, Truth, and Logic" (we will spend most time on the Intro)
This material will take us at least two more weeks of classes.
If you are a keener, and have all the books (or are willing to go to the Library and read or photocopy off the Reserve material), you could read it all. (It's good for you!)
Otherwise, try to read at least two Schlicks or two Carnaps, and at least one of the other. Everyone should read Ayer...which will come up toward the end of our discussions of the Postitivists. And at the time we look at Ayer's intro, we'll also read Hempel
Hempel "The Empiricist Criterion of Meaning" (in Ayer)
The first "short descriptive paper" is due on Tuesday, Feb. 12th, either by paper in class or electronically before that class. If electronic, I can accept the following formats: pdf, Word, rtf, ps, tex, dvi, txt. I can't read WordPerfect (.wpd) documents, so please save them as pdf or rtf and send that to me. These short papers are intended to be summaries of an article. I would like them to be two pages (1.5 spacing, about 800 words), and summarize an article on Logical Positivism that we are not reading for the class lectures (see above). Look either in the Rorty or the Ayer anthology for other articles to summarize. What should be in a summary? Here is a guideline for constructing these sorts of short summaries. This was originally written for graduate students and is aimed at providing them with relevant information for their future research, so it is a bit of overkill for the purposes of this course. Nonetheless, you can use it as somewhat of a guide. Try to be clear in your summary what the main topic of the paper is and why it is important, according to the author. It is not intended to be a "critical" paper, although if you feel compelled, and if you don't thereby go way beyond the suggested length, you might make a few critical comments.
Although the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy does not have an entry on the Logical Positivists, it does have one on the Vienna Circle and one on A.J. Ayer. You might find these (especially the first) very useful in understanding the agreement and lack of agreement within the Vienna Circle itself. We have been discussing the various ins and outs of a verifiability criterion of meaning. You should have at least a nodding acquaintance with Carl Hempel "The Empiricist Criterion of Meaning" (1950), which is in our Ayer anthology together with a 1958 "Remarks by the Author" reflections on the topic. This article is seen as a very important reflection on Positivism, is reprinted in many anthologies, and is something that you should all have knowledge about.
One of the topics that the Vienna Circle was interested in was the Unity of Science. Here is an article in the Stanford Encyclopedia about this general topic; you should also read the article by Charles Morris that I passed out concerning Schlick's original vision of the project of an Encyclopedia of Unified Science. Here are pages of the tables of contents (vol. I; vol. II) of the two volumes that were eventually published of this Encyclopedia. You will see that there are very many interesting and unexpected names there, such as John Dewey and the like. You might also be interested in the reminiscences of Carl Hempel that I passed out. These were from the first issue of the restarted (in 1975) journal Erkenntnis, which had been the more-or-less official organ of the Vienna Circle during the 1930s when it was edited by Rudolf Carnap and Hans Reichenbach.
The second "short descriptive paper" will probably concern some Ordinary Language Philosophy, and will be due sometime in March. [It is decided: they are due Tuesday, March 18th. As before, the goal is two pages; turn them in during class that day or by email before class. For articles: you can try the new ones I put links to at the bottom of this webpage (Ryle, Henson, Heath), but don't do Russell and probably not Austin on "A Plea for Excuses" (because it's too long). You might think of Waismann "How I see Philosophy" in Ayer, or pretty much any of the articles in Parts III and IV of the Rorty anthology. (Although let me recommend against doing any of the four the articles on Austin).
The graduate students will each do a presentation on the "extra meeting day" we will have April 8th. They may be lecturing on articles out of the Lyas book. There is also a final paper for this course. I put here a short writeup about how to construct academic papers. Most upper-level and graduate students in philosophy have had much experience in writing papers, but I thought I'd just put this into writing.
Let us start our "ordinary language philosophy" with some selection out of:
G. Ryle "Philosophical Arguments" (in Ayer)
F. Waismann "How I see Philosophy" (in Ayer)
G. Ryle "Systematically Misleading Expressions" (in Rorty)
N. Malcolm "Moore and Ordinary Language" (in Rorty)
J. Passmore "Arguments to Meaninglessness" (in Rorty)
We will look at other works in this general tradition a bit later in the course. You should read as many of these as you can, although I realize that some of you don't have easy access to the Ayer anthology. Especially try to read the Ryle and Malcolm articles.
Since we're going to be talking a bit about the "non-systematic" ordinary language philosophers, you might find it interesting/amusing to read an example of their work. Here's a short piece by O.K. Bouwsma on Descartes' evil demon. And here is a piece by Richard Henson, defending Malcolm's "Moore and Ordinary Language" (and ordinary language philosophy generally) from attacks mounted by Bertrand Russell (and others such as Passmore [above] and Heath). The topic of just what sort of attacks and defenses of ordinary language are being made in these (and other) articles, together with an evaluation of who is right, would make an excellent term paper topic!!
Later, after writing The Concept of Mind, Ryle wrote some more general works on methodology of ordinary language philosophy. You might be interested in reading his "Ordinary Language" and his "Use, Usage, and Meaning" (this latter was part of a symposium whose other member was J.N. Findlay, and his contribution is also in this document).
An electronic version of John Austin's "A Plea for Excuses" is here. This contains a nice statement of his views on the point of studying language and how it is actually used. (It also contains some stuff that actually applies it to "excuses" and the like). I will pass out a photocopy of the last part of Austin's How to do Things with Words (pp. 150-162), so that we can discuss more about this very influential start of "speech act philosophy of language".