What is postanalytic philosophy?



I came across a reference to the postanalytic philosophy today, and I'm wondering what exactly that is. Is it related (if not it itself) to postmodern philosophy? What are the main ideas behind it? Which philosophers support this movement?

And if you have any book/article suggestions on it, I'd love to hear them too.

Yechiam Weiss

Posted 2018-01-29T07:38:19.177

Reputation: 3 468



Wikipedia has an article titled postanalytic philosophy with the names of Quine, Davidson, Putnam, and Rorty given as examples. But I have not seen the term used much at all lately, it appears to be obsolete. The same names are often listed under logical pragmatism, together with Wittgenstein, and, with more names added, like Kuhn, Feyerabend and the Stanford Disunity Mafia, under postpositivism. Of these only Kuhn, Feyerabend and Rorty can be said to represent the analytic version of postmodernism. For Rorty's "creative" medley of pragmatism and continental postmodernism, which he termed "neo-pragmatism" and sometimes characterized as "post-philosophy", see e.g. Have any philosophers applied the concept of “underdetermination” to non-scientific contexts? Zammito's book referenced their is a nice critical review of "analytic postmodernism".

Even according to Wikipedia, "the term "postanalytic philosophy" itself has been used in a vaguely descriptive sense and not in the sense of a concrete philosophical movement". The term probably derives from Rajchman and West edited 1985 volume Post-Analytic Philosophy, which was inspired by Rorty. But it is clear now that they spoke too soon. "Postanalytic" philosophers are still commonly described as just analytic, and soon after the volume came out another major change came, the end of the linguistic turn, or at least the beginning of the end.

Language came to be seen as a disappointment as the master key to all philosophical mysteries, the first philosophy, and this downgraded the status of the initial insight of analytic philosophy derived from Frege and Russell, analysis of language. According to Burge, the focus shifted to philosophy of mind, the next "first philosophy". It would make more sense to call post-linguistic turn analytic philosophers "postanalytic", see Is it thought that analytic philosophy is in decline after the linguistic turn? (no).


Posted 2018-01-29T07:38:19.177

Reputation: 38 006

Thanks, I thought the Wikipedia page wasn't very descriptive, so I came here. Your answer is better than Wikipedia ;) – Yechiam Weiss – 2018-01-29T08:23:53.180

By the way, I haven't heard of a "shift to philosophy of mind" - I always thought that the philosophy of language and philosophy of mind were examined distinctively, while the philosophy of mind (epistemology I assume) the "first philosophy" as you've said, and the philosophy of language as the "first ontological philosophy". – Yechiam Weiss – 2018-01-29T08:29:04.270

Look at Burge's historical essay referenced under the last link. "No other area of philosophy assumed quite the status that the philosophy of language had had since the 1950s. But the degree of interest in relatively "pure" philosophy of language has certainly diminished. Moreover, there has been a perceptible shift of ferment toward issues in the philosophy of mind. Some reasons for this change are internal to the subject. The discussions of meaning by Quine and Grice showed that there is a systematic interplay between meaning and propositional attitudes, like belief and intention." – Conifold – 2018-01-29T08:34:29.560

"Another internal reason was that some of the most difficult and persistent specific problems within the philosophy of language, accounting for Frege's puzzle about Hesperus and Phosphorus in the light of the new theory of reference, accounting for the cognitive value of demonstratives, giving an account of the truth conditions and logical form of sentences about propositional attitudes, explicating de re belief - all pointed toward the philosophy of mind... An external reason... was the rise of the computer paradigm... that had apparent significance for philosophical problems." – Conifold – 2018-01-29T08:34:40.433

am I correct in assuming the philosophy of the mind is the epistemology? Or is it in the physical, neuro-philosophical area? – Yechiam Weiss – 2018-01-29T10:27:09.630

A little remark as this answer was accepted immediately: OP had 4 questions. The main question (title) is "What is postanalytic philosophy", and the extended text contains "What are the main ideas behind it?". While this answer is nice, it only addresses the questions "Is it related (if not it itself) to postmodern philosophy?" (kind of) and "Which philosophers support this movement?". I would be very interested in having the main question ("what is it") covered, maybe with examples...the Wikipedia page linked here does not really do that (it mainly tells what p.a. p. is not ...). – AnoE – 2018-01-29T10:39:28.210

'Postanalytic philosophy' looks like an oxymoron to me, – None – 2018-01-29T12:38:26.000

@YechiamWeiss Epistemology is a separate field, it concerns how knowledge is acquired and justified. Philosophy of mind is more about how the mind functions, not necessarily regarding knowledge, and what it is, neurophilosophy is a part of that. There is some overlap of course, but the purposes are distinct. – Conifold – 2018-01-29T20:25:32.573

@AnoE As I noted, the term is not current. Some philosophers that Wikipedia calls "postanalytic" are discussed under Have any philosophers applied the concept of “underdetermination” to non-scientific contexts?, but this is more of a loose grouping than something with "ideas behind it", there never was such a "movement" .

– Conifold – 2018-01-29T20:30:47.923

I haven’t seen the term used, myself, but it seems to be mainly “post logical positivism”. Does this seem right? – Dennis – 2018-01-29T21:44:46.090

@AnoE I accepted this answer because it shows exactly why my questions are a bit unanswerable - as Conifold said, you can't really explain an "idea" behind a current that doesn't really exists. Though if someone would like to elaborate on that aspect, I'd love to hear it. – Yechiam Weiss – 2018-01-29T21:49:55.673

@PeterJ not every philosophy is analytical, just the main modern one. – Yechiam Weiss – 2018-01-29T21:50:44.650

1@Dennis It seems to be derived from Rorty, and he apparently had something more ambitious than generic postpositivism in mind: radicalizing Wittgenstein and Quine, mixing in continental postmodernism, cultural politics in place of epistemology, etc. But it seems that the term never took in either narrow or broad sense. Rorty's broad "pragmatism" fared better. Brandom and Taylor adopted it and describe Wittgenstein, Sellars, Quine, Davidson, Putnam and Rorty as pragmatists (along with early Heidegger). Glock calls Quine and Davidson "logical pragmatists". – Conifold – 2018-01-30T00:03:27.267

@YechiamWeiss - Yes, I wondered if someone would come back on this point. The problem is the word 'analytical'. When I use it I mean 'thinking about stuff logically'. The distinction between 'analytic' philosophy and other kinds makes no sense to me at all and imo confuses many issues. By 'analytic' I mean systematic. . . – None – 2018-01-30T13:30:36.860