Morris Weitz, "Philosophical Analysis"






Begins by noting contrasts:  e.g., idealism vs. materialism


Asks "what does analysis contrast with?"


o     Does not Answer, but Principle of Non-Vacuous Contrast


o     Either earlier/later Anglo-American or non-Anglo-American



Bertrand Russell


Defense of External Relations

Idealism/monism:  relations not ultimate

Render unintelligible asymmetrical relations

o     "Greater than" varies with same object in relation to other objects

o  Absolute idealism and monism by asserting one subject and its predicates Òreduces identity in difference to absolute identityÓ

Relations are real




Formal Analysis and Logical Atomism

"Examination of the world from a purely logical point of view

Proper name as symbol for particular "which is the meaning of the name"

Atomic proposition:  x is y

o     "Atomic facts correspond to atomic propositions"

o     "A molecular proposition is one that contains other propositions as its components":  includes truth function words (or, if, and)


Theory of Descriptions

Rejects his earlier realist view that object of thought or discourse "has being, i.e., is in some sense" (Prin. Math.)

Example of "The round square does not exist"

o     Example is a significant and true proposition

o     Need to distinguish proper name and description

¤      Proper name is a simple symbol

¤      Description is a complex symbol

Allows discourse on "unreal and self-contradictory objects" (99/7

Involve "propositional functions and variable, not objects"


What Russell Means by Analysis

"Never stated what he means by analysis"

Form of definition



G.E. Moore


Analysis as "form of definition, not of words, but of concepts"

o  "Analysis is confined to clarification and definition of concepts or propositions"

o    "The central point of doing analysis is the clarification of concepts, not the discovery of facts about the world"

Did not reduce philosophy to analysis; it is only one of task



Some Followers of Russell and Moore




"Tractatis Logico-Philosophicus is universally acknowledged as a classic of twentieth-century analytic philosophy"


"Resolve all descriptive, complex propositions into their elementary ones"

o     "These into their ultimate units of unanalyzable name and their combinations"

o     "Make every statement an adequate picture of reality"


Analysis as "form of linguistic transformation"

Atomic constituents and connections that show their correct logical form

Neither ontological nor conceptual definition

"Resolution of grammatically misleading propositions into their correct logical expression"



Wisdom and Ryle



Logical Positivism


From Vienna Circle (1922) to Hempel (1950)


Key features

o     Verifiability theory of meaning

o     Rejection of metaphysics

o     Unity of science

o     Conception of language as a calculus

o     Conventionalist interpretation of logic and mathematics

o     Legitimate philosophy as logical analysis


View that cognitive meaning of a sentence is its method of verification "sinned against itself"

Philosophy as the systematic presentation of the logical syntax of the language of science

o     Carnap

o     Ayer

Philosophy "makes no factual claims"

Philosophy "exhausts itself in formulating certain definitions of symbols in use"



o     Carnap and Ayer later repudiate their early views on analysis

o     Still identified philosophy with analysis



The Rejection of Analysis


"Contemporary philosophical analysis began with Russell and ended with logical positivism"


Some writers try to retain by referring to "linguistic analysis" or "ordinary language analysis"


Reject view of language as a picture or isomorphic structure of the world

"Look and see"


o     Language as toolbox


o     Relate words and sentences to use


"The need to analyze vanishes with the illusion that produced it"