Paul L. Franco
A study of development of contemporary analytic philosophy, the revolt against idealism, and the linguistic turn in philosophy.
In this course, we’ll mainly study the analytic tradition in 20th century philosophy. This tradition has been characterized as embodying a linguistic turn in philosophy. Namely, analytic philosophers were united in the conviction that the best way to solve (or dissolve) classic philosophical problems is through the analysis of language. Like many sweeping generalizations about any period in the history of philosophy, there’s probably something right and something wrong about the claim that 20th century philosophy embodies a linguistic turn. Taking this as our cue, at the most general level, our class is concerned with understanding the role of the analysis of language in 20th century philosophy. But, more specifically, we’ll look at some of the answers key figures of analytic philosophy in the 20th century philosophy give to questions like the following: What can philosophy learn about its own concepts and methodologies from the formal and natural sciences? Can philosophy be a science? How do we manage to say meaningful things about imaginary entities like ‘The Present King of France?’ Is there a logic that governs everyday conversation? Should (or can) philosophy apply findings from descriptive fields like psychology to normative, epistemological notions like justification? (Philosophers we’ll read include: Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Rudolf Carnap, P.F. Strawson, W.V.O. Quine, and more!)
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