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Thursday, 26 May 2005


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John Gallagher

I'm still slogging through Rorty's Objectivity, Relativism and Truth: Philosophical Papers I. I have some problems with Rorty (mainly his denial that science is a "privileged" methodology), but find myself in considerable agreement with his pragmatism.

Clark Goble

I think calling Rorty's position pragmatism can be problematic. (Although admittedly he is far more pragmatic in the earlier works) I seem to recall Davidson saying a few years before his death that Rorty had given up on the pragmatist label. I tried to find the link but couldn't. On the other hand Rorty has also said that is philosophy is the same as Putnam's, despite Putnam attacking Rorty's views. Likewise Rorty has said there are no real disagreements between his views and Davidson's. At a certain point one wonders what labels for Rorty are worth.

Clark Goble

I should add, that I'm not sure I agree with Bill's readings of the Continental figures. They don't to me to have quite the failings he portrays them as having. But I'll keep my mouth shut until he gets to a text I have at hand and am familiar with. I'd just say that from the quote in the above the author is calling Carnap and his friends "Anglo-Saxon analytic philosophy." However the issue of what is or isn't analytic philosophy seems a reasonable question. (Just as defining the limits of Continental thought can be) While one may disagree with the author's extension for "Anglo-Saxon analytic philosophy" it seems that the earlier sentence in the paragraph makes clear that it was Carnap and his circle that the author was referring to. If it is Carnap and the positivists the is it really so wrong to point out that the "end of philosophy" in that circle meant something quite different from what it meant to Heidegger or within Marxist discourse?


Even if by "Anglo-Saxon analytical philosophy" Deleuze meant the Vienna Circle, I would object to the claim that Carnap was interested in bringing about an end to philosophy (although Deleuze himself doesn't say this in the quote Bill provides - this is Bill's reading I'm going on). Obviously, Carnap objected to speculative "metaphysics", philosophical theology, and so on, and this is different from the beliefs of Heidegger and Marx, but he wanted philosophy (minus the pseud-problems) to continue on just the same. There are all sorts of passages in the Aufbau where Carnap places his work squarely in the context of the history of philosophy. I'm thinking especially of the bit where he talks about his "basic relations" as the solution to the 2,000 year-old debate about Aristotelian/Kantian categories, and his thoroughly footnoted justification of the use of gestalt experience as the universe of discourse.

Bill Vallicella

Clark, Good comment. But surely it is a mistake on Badiou's part to identify "Anglo-Saxon analytic philosophy" with logical positivism as represented by Rudolf Carnap, Moritz Schlick, Hans Hahn, Otto Neurath, A, J. Ayer, et al.) This is a very common mistake made by Continental philosophers. They think that if you are analytic then you are a positivist. That's palpably false and springs from an astonishing ignorance. Al Plantinga is analytic but not a positivist, to take just one example. I don't think there can be any rational debate over whether analytic phil = log positivism. It is self-evident that there are anal. philosophers who are not positivists. The identity fails. Even during the years when log positivism 'reigned' -- the 'thirties and 'forties -- there were analytic types who were not positivists. Of course, the overcoming of metaphysics undertaken by Carnap is quite different from the overcoming of metaphysics underaken by Heidegger. But note that these two have different conceptions of metaphysics -- a fact that cannot be glossed over. Heidegger's thought, early and late, would still count as metaphysics of the very worst sort from the point of view of Carnap. Note also how Badiou conveniently ignores any school of thought that fails to fit his historicist schema. Philosophia perennis dead? What about the neo-Thomists? What about Brand Blanshard? I could go on. I'll fulminate against historicism more later.

Bill Vallicella

You're right, Ian, although we are talking about Badiou at the moment, not Deleuze. Ian's reference is to Carnap's Der logische Aufbau der Welt, The Logical Structutre of the World -- a delightfully romantic title for a logical positivist. But he was a young man in those days.

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