Analytic philosophy and transformative philosophy

RICHARD RORTY ANALYTIC PHILOSOPHY AND TRANSFORMATIVE PHILOSOPHY (1999) 1. Platonists, Positivists, and Pragmatists. Introduction ANALYTIC PHILOSOPHY AND TRANSFORMATIVE PHILOSOPHY Many analytic philosophers do not like to think of their discipline as one of the humanities. They regard their own brand of philosophy as the disciplined pursuit of objective knowledge, and thus as resembling the natural sciences. They view the humanities as an arena for unarguable clashes of opinion. Philosophers of this sort prefer to be placed, for administrative purposes, as far as possible from professors of literature and as close as possible to professors of physics. That is why, in the tables of organization of US universities, philosophy departments are sometimes found in the Division of Social Sciences rather than the Division of the Humanities. It is also why beleaguered non-analytic US philosophers sometimes try to rally under a banner inscribed “humanistic philosophy”. When analysts and non-analysts get on each other's nerves, academic administrators sometimes try to solve the problem by splitting the department in two—creating one department for the analytic “techies” and another for the non-analytic “fuzzies”. The antagonism between analytic and non-analytic philosophy is tediously familiar to all us insiders. But references to that split often puzzle non-philosophers. They have no idea what the fuss is about. They are quite unclear about what distinguishes analytic philosophy from other brands, what problems analytic philosophers spend their time talking about, and why American philosophy departments are often content to have figures like Hegel, Heidegger, Derrida, and Foucault taught elsewhere in the university (by the political scientists, or the professors of comparative literature, or the intellectual historians, for example). I shall devote most of this lecture to the history and the sociology of analytic philosophy within the US academy. This will supply the background for my claim that the analytic philosophers have completely failed to do what they most hoped to do: put philosophy on the secure path of a science. But I shall conclude by saying that the analytic philosophers who have done most to undermine the scientistic pretensions of the movement have made a permanent, very valuable, contribution to philosophy. The moral of my lecture will be that both the failure of analytic philosophy and the history of its autocritique give additional reasons to abandon, once and for all, the very idea that philosophy can be made into any sort of science. Both help us replace the assumption that philosophy should add bricks to the edifice of knowledge with the thought that philosophy is, as Hegel said, its time held in thought. There is often said to be a “crisis” in the humanities departments of American universities. But people who say this usually have in mind the excessive political correctness which is still sometimes found in US departments of literature. American philosophy departments had their last crisis back in the 1940’s and 1950’s—the period during which analytic philosophy accomplished its takeover. There has been no dramatic generational shift since then, except for the sudden emergence, in the 70’s, of feminist philosophy as a new area of specialization. Whereas the aftermath of the radicalism of the 60’s had a profound impact on several disciplinary matrices elsewhere in the university, it left American philosophy largely unaffected. Many analytic philosophers were politically active, but this activity usually did not lead them to change either their professional self-images or their reading habits. Analytic philosophy may crudely be defined as an attempt to combine the switch from discussing experience to discussing language—what Gustav Bergmann called “the linguistic turn”—with one more attempt to professionalize the discipline by making it more more scientific, The linguistic turn is common to all twentieth-century philosophy--as evident in Heidegger, Gadamer, Habermas and Derrida as in Carnap, Ayer, Austin and Wittgenstein. What distinguishes analytic philosophy from other twentieth-century philosophical initiatives is the idea that this turn, together with the use of symbolic logic, makes it possible, or at least easier, to turn philosophy into a scientific discipline. The hope is that philosophers will become able, through patient and cooperative research, to add bricks to the edifice of knowledge. So there will no longer be philosophical schools, but only philosophical specialities. Prior to the linguistic turn, Edmund Husserl had made a similar attempt. His exhortations to scientificity and teamwork sound much like those of Carnap and Reichenbach a few decades later. But in Being and Time Heidegger managed to package Kierkegaardian and Nietzschean thoughts in a jargon that made them sound like respectable philosophical doctrines, rather than mere literary conceits. By imposing a quasi-Kantian, professional-sounding form on Kierkegaardian and Nietzschean content, Heidegger helped make it possible for philosophers to be much more interesting to literary intellectuals than either Carnap or Husserl thought they had any business to be. He thereby founded the tradition that analytic philosophers refer to as “Continental philosophy”-a tradition which, in the US, is studied in many humanities departments, but not usually in the philosophy department. Carnap and Husserl both thought that Plato was on the right track when he preferred the mathematicians to the poets. But whereas Husserl’s initiative was nipped in the bud by Heidegger, Carnap’s hopes for scientificity, and his suspicion of Heidegger and of literary types who take Heidegger seriously, are alive and well today in American philosophy departments. Such hopes and suspicions help explain the Blimpish outrage displayed by many American philosophy professors when they learned that Cambridge University was about to offer Derrida an honorary degree. Between 1945 and 1960, analytic philosophy took over most of the important American philosophy departments. Emigré logical empiricists such as Carnap and Hempel replaced Dewey and Whitehead as the heroes of the younger generation. This replacement produced a striking, thorough-going, change in the graduate curriculum of these philosophy departments, and in the self-image of the Ph. D’s who graduated from those departments. Before analytic philosophy took over, the study of philosophy in both anglophone and non-anglophone countries had centered around the history of philosophy. Anybody who taught philosophy was expected to be able to talk about the relative merits of Plato and Aristotle, Hobbes and Spinoza, Kant and Hegel, Nietzsche and Mill. That was of course not all you were supposed to do: you also had to take part in current debates in the journals. But nobody in this period had any doubt that philosophy was one of the humanities. For advanced training in philosophy did not differ all that much from advanced training in departments of literature: one read canonical texts, developed views about their relative merits, and tried to stitch them together in interesting new patterns. Up through the forties, university teachers of literature and history in the US usually had some idea of the interests and views of their colleagues in the philosophy department, and conversely. This had ceased to be the case by 1965. As a graduate student of philosophy in the years 1950-54, I found myself caught between two quite different sorts of teachers: those who, like McKeon and Hartshorne, expected me to develop views on what was living and what dead in the thought of various great philosophers and those who, like Carnap and Hempel, expected me to be familiar with current journal articles: in particular, articles centered on attempts to provide what were then called “rational reconstructions” of various parts of culture—for example, the testing of scientific theories. One of the hot topics we discussed in Hempel’s philosophy of science seminar was the Raven Paradox—the fact that familiar accounts of “the logic of scientific confirmation” had a counter-intuitive consequence: the existence of any non-black non-raven confirms the proposition that all ravens are black. I spent some years, and a portion of my rather schizophrenic dissertation, worrying about a related problem: that of nomologicality. A true non-nomological generalization such as “All the coins in my pocket are silver” does not license the counterfactual claim “If this penny were in my pocket it would be silver”. A true nomological generalization such as “All ravens are black”, on the other hand, does license the counterfactual claim that “If this bird were a raven, it would be black”. But it is harder than one might think to specify what makes a generalization nomological. My dissertation was a comparison between three treatments of the concept of potentiality: those offered by Aristotle, by the 17th-century rationalists, and by Hempelian/Carnapian philosophy of science. So I spent two-thirds of my dissertation research reading commentaries on great dead philosophers and the other third reading up-to-the-minute journal articles offering exciting new analyses of subjunctive conditional sentences. My dissertation research left me, if you will forgive the awkward metaphor, stranded between the ebbing wave and the rising tide. By the time I had finished with graduate school and military service, it was 1958. By then it was clear that if you did not know about analytic philosophy you were not going to get a good job. Looking like a promising young philosopher at Princeton, where I got a job in 1961, was almost exclusively a matter of talking the new talk—of keeping up with the current journals and getting on the right preprint circuits. If you were hoping to get tenure, as I was, there was little percentage in being in being historically minded. This was partly because of the influence of Willard van Orman Quine. Quine was Carnap’s best student, the arbiter elegantarium of analytic philosophy, and everybody’s ego-ideal. He was openly scornful about the study of the history of philosophy. In his own student years, Quine had made a point of reading as few of the canonical texts as possible, and he recommended this practice to his students at Harvard. He believed the history of philosophy to be just as irrelevant to current philosophical inquiry as is the history of physics to current research in that field. Quine admired Carnap for having, when asked to teach an introductory course in Plato, responded that he would not teach Plato, because he would teach nothing but the truth. Quinean attitudes of this sort were widespread at Princeton. The Princeton students dutifully competed with one another in argumentative skill and dialectical acumen, rather than in acquiring a wide range of learning. We excused one of our cleverest students from the foreign language requirement on the ground that it would be unfair to let an idiosyncratic genetic disability—lack of Sprachgefuehl—delay the brilliant career this student was destined to have (and which, in fact, he went on to have). No such compassion would have been shown to a student who claimed that his genes made it impossible for him to master symbolic logic. Toward the end of my time at Princeton, around 1980, the philosophy department abolished the foreign language requirement for graduate students altogether. That step would have been unthinkable thirty years before (and was, in fact, later reversed.). By 1980 the difference between students trained in anglophone departments of philosophy of the Harvard/Princeton type and those trained in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and most other European countries (outside of Britain and Scandanavia) had become very great indeed. The latter students typically knew both Hegel and Heidegger reasonably well. They had views about the relative merits of the grand geistesgeschichtlich stories those two men told, as well as about how to interweave such stories with various equally grand stories about the history of art and literature on the one hand, and the history of social and political institutions on the other. Some anglophone students also had read these two philosophers and had views about such stories, but such students were atypical, and often marginalized. Again, some students in non-anglophone countries were intensely interested in analytic philosophy, and prepared to follow Quine’s advice about ignoring the history of philosophy. But they too were atypical, and often marginalized. Most of these deep differences persist today. There is still a big difference between young people aspiring to become philosophy professors in anglophone and in non-anglophone parts of the world. The greatest difference is in their differing notions of what it means to be a philosopher--in the self-image and the ambitions which an advanced student of the subject acquires. It is this difference which makes it very unlikely that there will be a rapprochement between the analytic tradition and a tradition that still trains students by shepherding them through the canonical Plato-to-Nietzsche sequence. Among anglophone philosophers, sheer argumentative ability—of the sort typical of forensic litigators--matters most. It is still most important to be what my Princeton colleagues used to call “quick in the head”. Elsewhere, on the other hand, it is still most important to be learned---to have read a lot, and to have views on how to pull the various things one has read together into some sort of story, a story which draws a moral. That is why non-anglophone students of philosophy on the Continent usually have little problem chatting up, and being chatted up by, students of literature and history. Philosophy graduate students in the US often have a problem doing this. The anti-historicism of analytic philosophy has, however, not prevented the study of the history of philosophy from making something of a comeback in the US. There is far more first-rate work being done in this area by American philosophers nowadays than twenty years ago. But it is typically work that avoids Geistesgeschichte. Rather, it sticks to a particular figure or period, and points no world-historical moral . It has few points of contact with the concerns of people who take seriously Hegel’s and Heidegger’s stories about the Plato-to-Kant sequence. This study of the history of philosophy is, however, equally far removed, however, from the concerns of the so-called “core” areas of analytic philosophy. It owes very little to analytic philosophy, and is continuous with historical work done before Russell and Carnap proposed the paradigm-shift which revolutionzed anglophone philosophy. The historians of philosophy in American philosophy departments are, so to speak, “analytic” only by courtesy. Whereas in the first flush of analytic enthusiasm there were some awkward attempts to make Aristotle a sort of proto-Russell or proto-Austin, and to make Kant a mixed-up proto-Strawson, nowadays there is often little difference between commentaries on canonical texts written by philosophy professors and those written by political scientists or intellectual historians. As with the history of philosophy, so with moral and political philosophy. John Rawls would have written the same book even if Russell and Carnap had never lived, and even if the linguistic turn had never been taken. Insofar as writers like Rawls or Charles Taylor or Peter Singer use “methods” they are the same “methods” used by Sidgwick, Mill and T. H. Green. The linguistic turn has made no difference to their inquiries. The only effect which the dominance of analytic philosophy has had on these fields is to relegate the history of philosophy, moral philosophy, and political philosophy to the margins of the philosophical curriculum. The central position in American philosophy departments is now occupied by the so-called ‘core’ specialities—metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of language, and philosophy of mind. The presumed centrality of these areas encourages students to think work in other areas of philosophy as soft and wimpy. The hard “core” consists precisely in work which is not only wildly different from anything done by professors in literature or history, but whose point is obscure to anyone who is not a philosopher by profession. The “core” status of this work is due to the fact that this is the part of philosophy which still seems to offer hope of achieving definitive, quasi-scientific results—of attaining knowledge, as opposed to mere opinion. To give you a feel for the sort of thing that hard-core analytic philosophers take seriously, consider the following example. It was pointed out by Edmund Gettier in 1962 that there was a flaw in the traditional definition of knowledge as justified true belief—the definition first put forward by Plato. Gettier noted that you could have a justified true belief which would nevertheless not count as knowledge, simply because it was caused in the wrong way—caused by irrelevant events. For example, if I believe that somebody in my department now owns a BMW, but believe it to be Jones, who told me last month that he owned one, then I may have a justified true belief. But, because Jones sold his BMW yesterday, my belief is only true because it was another of my departmental colleagues, Smith, who bought it from Jones. Because my justified belief was caused by the wrong thing, so to speak, I do not know that a colleague owns a BMW, even though one of them in fact does, and even though my belief that one of them does is justified. Getter's observation has given rise to what are called “causal theories of knowledge”. Such theories try to specify what kind of causal link obtains between knowings and objects of empirical knowledge. Those interested in such theories go on to discuss whether such links exist as well in the case of mathematical and moral knowledge. Such inquiries tie in with Kripke-inspired causal theories of reference. These are theories about how what we are talking about is determined not by what we say about it, but rather by causal linkages between our use of certain words and the things those words were originally used to name. There is much debate among analytic philosophers about the value of such theories—about whether we need either a theory of knowledge or a theory of reference, about whether Getter's discovery is of any philosophical interest, about whether causal theories can ever be made to work, and about what they would be good for if they did. But a student of analytic philosopher is expected to have views on all these topics, if only to be sure of passing the “epistemology and metaphysics” section of the Ph. D. qualifiying exam. You will get more points in my profession for having a novel argument relevant to these topics than you would get from, for example, publishing a comprehensive history of moral philosophy in Europe from Montaigne to Kant. Such a history was published a few years ago by Jerome Schneewind, who teaches philosophy at Hopkins, Fifty years ago, when Lovejoy, Jaeger, Cornford, Gilson, Wolfson, and Kemp Smith, were still names to conjure with, a long, learned, original, and imaginative work in the history of philosophy such as Schneewind’s THE INVENTION OF AUTONOMY would have been heralded as one of America’s most important recent contributions to philosophy. Nowadays, however, it will probably find more readers outside of philosophy departments than inside. The majority of American teachers of philosophy will remain unaware of its existence. The main reason for this distribution of prestige is, once again, that analytic phliosophers would like, above everything else, to feel that they are adding bricks to the edifice of knowledge. Analytic philosophers are of course not as suspicious of historians as they are of literary critics. For they acknowledge that historians who confine themselves to ascertaining which events actually occurred do offer knowledge rather than mere opinion. . But because historians of philosophy like Lovejoy or Schneewind are concerned with trends rather than events, they are often classed with the opinion-mongers. They are thought of as looking more like literary critics than real philosophers, professional philosophers, ought to look. This is because telling a story about trends is an invitation to the next generation of intellectual historians to tell another, competing, story about the same trends, just as setting up a literary canon invites the next generation of critics to revise that canon. By contrast, the explanation of a macrostrural physical phenomenon by reference to detailed microstructural arrangements typically does not invite the next generation to offer a competing explanation. For the first explanation is often agreed to have added a brick to the edifice of knowledge, making it unnecessary to revisit that spot on the wall. That sense of definitiveness and finality is what analytic philosophers yearn for. Such a sense is obviously not achievable by a book like Schneewind’s. The contrast between analytic and non-analytic philosophy roughly parallels C. P. Snow’s contrast between the scientific and the literary cultures—the, hard-soft, or techie-fuzzie, contrast I mentioned earlier.. Most people who go in for what the analytic philosophers call “Continental philosophy” are willing, and often eager, to fuzz up the boundaries between philosophy, intellectual history, literature, literary criticism, and culture criticism. They are relatively indifferent to the results of the so-called hard sciences. They see every reason why philosophy professors should read THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS and little reason why they should subscribe to SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN. The typical reader of Heidegger and Derrida views the hard sciences as handmaidens of technological progress, rather than as providing windows through which to glimpse reality unveiled. Such a reader will agree with Kierkegaard and Nietzsche that Plato and Aristotle were mistaken in thinking that the pursuit of objective truth is the most worthwhile, and the most distinctively human, activity of which we are capable. Most such readers will agree with Nietzsche that what the Greek philosophers missed was the priority of art and literature to science and mathematics—the need to view science through the optics of art and of life.. Plato envisaged a science-centered education, whereas Nietzsche envisaged an art-centered culture, one in which we acknowledge that the poets determine our ends, and that the scientists merely provide means to realize these ends. This line of thought is nicely summarized by Kierkegaard’s insistence that what we call “objective knowledge”, whether it is of mathematical theorems or of physical facts or of the occurrence of historical events is merely “accidental” knowledge. The bricks that make up the edifice of human knowledge are irrelevant for the only purpose that really matters. That purpose is to transform what Kierkegaard calls “the existing individual”. “All knowledge,” Kierkegaard writes, “which does not inwardly relate itself to existence, in the reflection of inwardness, is, essentially viewed, accidental knowledge; its degree and scope is essentially indifferent… Only ethico-religious knowledge has an essential relationship to the knower.” The paradigm case of existential transformation for Kierkegaard is becoming a New Being in Christ. But this is obviously not the only example of acquiring what Heidegger called authentic existence—a life whose goals are not simply taken over from one’s culture or one’s tradition, but which are the result of an idiosyncratic, alienating, ecstatic encounter with something or somebody new. This is the sort of encounter Plato had with Socrates, Pico della Mirandola with Plato, Romeo with Juliet, Hitler with Wagner, Quine with Carnap, Harold Bloom with Blake, and many idealistic young people with social movements such as Marxism, feminism, fascism, and gay liberation. Clearly, not everybody in the humanities is looking for existential transformation. Nor are all non-analytic philosophy professors. But the existence of the phenomenon of existential transformation is as important for the humanities as the phenomenon of consensus among knowledgeable experts is for the scientific culture. If there were no such phenomenon, there would be no literary culture, just as there would be no scientific culture if attaining consensus were not a familiar and expected product of conducting laboratory experiments. This does not mean that the chief products of humanities departments are books which effect existential transformation. Rather, the principal product of those departments are contributions to Geistesgeschichte: stories about past transformations, especially narratives connecting many successive transformations in social and individual self-images. These are stories about, for example, how the Greeks got from Homer to Aristotle, how literary criticism got from Dr. Johnson to Harold Bloom, how the German imagination got from Schiller to Habermas, how Protestantism got from Luther to Tillich, and how feminists got from Harriet Taylor to Catherine MacKinnon. These narratives tell us how human beings managed to change their most important self-descriptions. All such narratives are endlessly contestable, and endlessly revisable in the light of more recent changes. So the very idea of a last, definitive historical account of any of these transitions is as silly as the idea of a last, definitive, Bildungsroman. Such narratives, when woven together with one another, and with a reader’s own unwritten Bildungsroman, offer that reader a sense of what Hegel called the course of the World-Spirit. Books which weave together many such narratives, and which imbed a moral within the design of the resulting tapestry, perform the task which Hegel called “holding our time in thought.” That phrase was one of Hegel’s many definitions of philosophy. It seems to me a plausible definition of what the humanities departments of our universities hope to do for their students. By telling stories about past transformative encounters, members of these departments hope to put students in a better position to have similar encounters of their own, encounters some of which may help shove the World-Spirit along.. Holding one’s time in thought is to the humanities what puzzle-solving is to the sciences. One of the chief satisfactions of being a natural scientist, even a very minor-league natural scientist, is that you may solve a puzzle, at least a minor-league puzzle, once and for all. A great scientist is one who solves a great big, long-standing puzzle—why the planets move in ellipses, for example, or the microstructure of radioactivity, or the physical realization of genetic coding. A very great natural scientist may solve puzzles in a way that transforms our whole sense of how things work. This is why Einstein is sometimes referred to as a “philosopher-scientist”. His achievement conforms to Wilfrid Sellars’ definition of philosophy as an account of how things, in the largest sense of the term, hang together, in the largest sense of the term. But a very great philosopher, someone like Plato or Hegel , may do the same sort of thing that Einstein did. So may a very great religious writer like Kierkegaard or a very great poet like Shakespeare. The things being made to hang together in a new way are different , but the largeness is comparable. In the scientific case the relevant things are non-human objects (including pieces of human beings such as neurons or genes). In the humanities, they are human things—human institutions, lives, character-traits, achievements, and so on. Great, but not very great, historians, literary critics, and philosophers stand to people like Kant and Shakespeare as run-of-the-mill Nobel Laureates in physics stand to Einstein. They do not effect transformations, but they facilitate the next round of such transformations. Whereas the physicists build up to the next transformation by solving puzzles, the humanists build up to it by telling stories about how past transformations do or do not hang together. Comte and Marx, for example, were trying to hold their time in thought, when they spun retrospective narratives in support of their respective suggestions about how the cruel inequalities that had survived the French Revolution might be corrected. . So were the Renaissance humanists when they offered suggestions about what Christendom might become, now that we had become able to appropriate the wisdom of the ancients. The greatest non-analytic philosophers of our century, Dewey and Heidegger, spent a lot of their time telling stories about decline and about progress, stories which led their readers to reconceive themselves and their surroundings. The potentially transformative reconceptions these two men offered obviously cannot be described as providing us with new knowledge. Yet to call them suggestions for change in opinion is equally misleading. For those who follow Kierkegaard in distinguishing the existential and important from the objective and relatively trivial are right to brush aside questions about consensus and certainty. They are also right to have no interest in the knowledge-opinion distinction. . When one switches professions, spouses, lovers, or religions one does not ask for either certainty or consensus about the rightness of one’s choice. Nor is it in point to do so when choosing between Dewey’s upbeat narrative of our ascent to social democracy and Heidegger’s downbeat narrative of our descent into mindless technological gigantism. To illustrate the difference between a history-centered kind of philosophy which has no problem about its relation to the other humanities and the kind of philosophy which considers history inessential, let me recur to Schneewind, whose book I mentioned earlier. In a seminar covering the material of the book, a student who was bewildered by his approach asked Schneewind anxiously “But you do believe, don’t you, that there is a body of objectively correct moral knowledge which moral philosophers are asymptotically approaching?” When Schneewind said that he believed nothing of the sort, the student was genuinely perplexed as to what the point of writing a history of moral philosophy was supposed to be. This perplexity would not, I suspect, have been found in an American philosophy student of fifty years ago. I cite this anecdote in order to suggest how deeply ingrained in the culture of analytic philosophy is the ideal of the pursuit of non-time-bound, unrevisable, truth. If you have this ideal before you, what goes on in departments of literature and history is bound to seem beside any possible philosophical point. Conversely, if you agree with Kierkegaard that knowledge of such truths is trivial by comparison with “ethico-religious” transformation, then you will have little interest in analytic philosophy. Because most readers of philosophy do agree with Kierkegaard, analytic philosophy has few readers outside anglophone philosophy departments. Most of the other professors in anglophone universities neither know nor care what goes on in the philosophy department. Insofar as they think about it all, they dismiss that department as having been taken over by “technicians” whose work is of no interest to non-specialists. . Many analytic philosophers would go along with the view of philosophy put forward by David Lewis, one of the most respected and admired of contemporary American philosophers. His system-building and puzzle-solving abilities, as well as his argumentative acumen, are the envy of his colleagues. But he has as little interest in the history of philosophy, and in whether his students are familiar with this history, as did his teacher Carnap,. Lewis writes that “One comes to philosophy already endowed with a stock of existing opinions. It is not the business of philosophy either to undermine or to justify these opinions, to any great extent, but only to try to discover ways of expanding them into an orderly system. A metaphysician’ analysis of mind is an attempt at systematizing our opinions about it. It succeeds t the extent that (1) it is systematic, and (2) it respects those of our PR-philosophic opinions to which we are firmly attached.” (Lewis, COUNTERFACTUALS, p. 88) Philosophers who agree with Lewis often have little patience with those who, like Kierkegaard, hope that reading a philosophy book may, by undermining or justifying our present opinions, permit self-transformation. Kierkegaard’s claim that only the ethico-religious really matters is the antithesis of Lewis’s view of what philosophy is good for. The difference between the two men is, as I have already suggested, the difference between telling stories, especially stories of redemption or of decline, and solving puzzles. Lewis is the archetypal philosophical puzzle-solver. His solutions to puzzles are original and brilliant, and they fit together into a truly beautiful system. But those who think that philosophy should concentrate on dissolving traditional puzzles rather than on solving them typically do so because they hope that such dissolution will help us replace a worn-out jargon with a new, transformative, way of speaking and thinking. Such people will see Lewis’ system-building as having merely aesthetic value. The sort of philosopher who finds Heidegger useful, precisely because of his attempt to get rid of all the presuppositions common to Plato and to analytic philosophy, is especially likely to take this view. If analytic philosophy is to retain any hope of realizing its dream of scientification and full professionalization, then there must be meanings which stay fixed despite changes of usage, and intuitions which remain platitudinous despite cultural change. It is essential for this movement that historicism have its limits-that not every way of speaking and thinking be up for grabs, not every philosophical problem be a candidate for therapeutic dissolution.. For if all ways of speaking and thinking are potentially replacable, then the analytic puzzle-solvers will always be in danger of finding themselves parochial, time-bound, obsolete. This is the principal reason why, within contemporary analytic philosophy, holism, contextualism, pragmatism, and historicism are viewed with so much suspicion. For the more meanings, concepts and intuitions seem to be at the mercy of history, the less hope there is that philosophy will someday attain the secure path of a science. Historicism in philosophy is the chief enemy of professionalization. Fear of deprofessionalization has come to play, among the analytic philosophers, a considerable role in the choice of substantive philosophical views. I myself am a convinced holist, historicist, pragmatist, and contextualist. I do not believe that there are any little analyzable nuggets called “concepts” and “meanings” of the sort that the analytic philosophers’ job description requires. My first impulse, upon being told of a philosophical puzzle, is to try to dissolve it rather than to solve it: I typically question the terms in which the problem is posed, and try to suggest a new set of terms, terms in which the putative puzzle is unstatable. This sort of behavior may account for the fact that I am often characterized as an “end-of-philosophy” philosopher. But I am not. Philosophy cannot possibly end unless cultural change ends, and, like everyone else, I hope that such change will continue. Given cultural change, there will always be people trying to put the old and the new together. Plato tried to put the best features of Hesiod’s Olympians together with the best features of axiomatic geometry, Aquinas tried to put Aristotle together with Scripture. Dewey tried to put Hegel together with Darwin, Annette Baier tries to put Hume and Harriet Taylor together with Freud. All these people are appropriately called philosophers, both on Sellars’ and on Hegel’s definitions. They were all trying to make human things hang together in a large, wholesale, way, and also to hold their rapidly changing times in thought. The reason philosophy always buries its undertakers is not that there are deep permanent, puzzles which pop up like jacks-in-the-box in every epoch and in every culture, but simply that the times keep changing. Such change always makes it hard to see how things hang together, because it forces us to describe new phenomena in terms which were designed for use on old phenomena. The useful philosophers are the ones who think up new terms, and thereby make old vocabularies obsolete. .The invention of such terms cannot be made the goal of a program of scientific research. So what I do hope will come to an end is the attempt to set philosophy on the secure path of a science. If such attempts do come to an end, however, analytic philosophy will not be regarded by intellectual historians as having been a waste of time. On the contrary, I believe that they will see analytic philosophy as having produced powerful new considerations in favor of historicism and against scientism. Nothing has so become analytic philosophy as its constant self-criticism—its habit of chipping away at its own foundations, calling its own pretensions into question. Receptiveness to such autocritique as permitted analytic philosophers such as Kuhn and Putnam to formulate far deeper criticisms of Russell and Carnap’s attempt to put philosophy on a scientific footing that any that have been produced outside the analytic movement. The reaction against logical positivism which has dominated analytic philosophy for the last forty years should not be seen as a tempest in an anglophone teapot, but as a substantial contribution to world philosophy. If historians are to appreciate the magnitude of the achievements of analytic philosophy, they would do well to brush aside the self-serving rhetoric which the analytic philosophers unfortunately continue to employ. They can safely disregard the claim that analytic philosophy exhibits an unusual, and perhaps unprecedented, degree of clarity and rigor. They should attend, instead, to the internal dialectic of analytic philosophy. Thanks to what Hegel called “the cunning of reason”, this dialectic has enabled analytic philosophy4rs to explain more clearly than ever before why clarity and rigor are relative to cultural circumstance. In the forty-odd years since analytic philosophy took over, no more agreement has been achieved among American analytic philosophers than was achieved among the neo-Kantian philosophers in Germany during the second half of the nineteenth century, or among the pre-analytic American philosophers who discussed the relative merits of James, Russell, Bradley, Whitehead and Bergson. The Russell-Carnap attempt to use symbolic logic to put philosophy on the secure path of a science has been as complete a fizzle as was Husserl’s attempt to use the phenomenological epoche for that purpose. Analytic philosophers are as quick to divide into schools, each dismissive of the other's importance, as were the scholastics of the fourteenth century. This sort of scholasticism is hard to avoid when a profession has no responsibilities except to itself. What counts as a real problem in, for example, jurisprudence, is a matter on which society as a whole has opinions. But society has no opinions about what counts as a philosophical problem. That is why, ever since philosophy became professionalized in the time of Kant, philosophers have spent at least half their time explaining why their colleagues’ problems are unreal. What one acquires as a graduate student in an analytic philosophy department is not a set of methods or tools, but simply familiarity with the various language-games presently being played by the faculty of that department. These are language-games which may well be viewed with contempt by the analytic philosophers at the next university down the road. Nevertheless, familiarity with such language-games is what constitutes initiation into the profession. In this respect, graduate training is precisely the same process for students of David Lewis or Donald Davidson as it for students on the other side of the abyss--disciples of Albrecht Wellmer or Gianni Vattimo, for example. In all four cases, you acquire what suspicious outsiders call pointless jargon and what convinced insiders call indispensable tools. When in 1950 I sat starry-eyed at Carnap’s feet, I actually believed that by the end of the twentieth century philosophers around the world would be bedecking their articles with quantifiers, talking the same ideally perspicuous language, trying to solve the same puzzles, adding bricks to the same edifice. But during my years at Princeton, watching the winds of doctrine veer about, and last yearns urgent new philosophical puzzles wither and die in the blast, I realized this scenario was unlikely to be played out in even a single university, much less on a global scale. Still, the realization that my Princeton colleagues no more agreed about when a brick had been added to the edifice of knowledge than about what counted as an important philosophical problem did not diminish my growing conviction the best of the analytic philosophers have done a lot for the transformation of the human self-image. In various books and articles I have tried to tell a story about how the linguistic turn in philosophy both made it possible for the heirs of Kant to come to terms with Darwin and encouraged an anti-representationalist line of thought which chimes with Nietzsche’s perspectivalism and with Dewey’s pragmatism. This line of thought, running through the later Wittgenstein, as well as through the work of Sellars and Davidson, has given us a new way of thinking about the relation between language and reality. Thinking in this way may, at long last, do what the German idealists vainly hoped to do: it may persuade us to end discussion of tiresome pseudo-problems about the relation of subject and object, and of appearance to reality. These analytic philosophers, I would argue, can help us get philosophy back on the Hegelian, historicist, romantic, path. This is the path that nineteenth-century neo-Kantians , Husserlian phenomenologists, and the founders of analytic philosophy all hoped to block off. The story I have tried to tell elsewhere about how analytic philosophy tried and failed to avoid taking this path culminates in the claim that human beings can, with the help of Wittgenstein, Sellars and Davidson on the one hand, and Heidegger, Foucault and Derrida on the other, get away from the old idea that there is something outside of human beings—something like the Will of God, or the Intrinsic Nature of Reality—which has authority over human beliefs and actions. It is a story about how certain intuitions we inherit from the Greeks can be undermined and replaced, rather than systematized. Whether or not one accepts or likes this story, it is a story of transformation, a story of the sort that Kierkegaard could acknowledge as having ethico-religious import (even though its import is radically atheistic). My story, in short, is not about how to avoid analytic philosophy, but rather about why you need to study certain selected analytic philosophers in order fully to appreciate the transformative possibilities which the intellectual movements of the twentieth century have opened up for our descendants. The disciplinary matrix of analytic philosophy, despite the hollow defensive rhetoric with which it resounds, is one with which future intellectual historians will have to become familiar, just as they have had to become familiar with the disciplinary matrix of German idealism. German idealism too produced a lot of hollow scientistic rhetoric, but it did shove the World-Spirit along. So, I have argued, will the line of holist and contextualist thinking that led Wittgenstein from the TRACTATUS to the INVESTIGATIONS, that persuaded Quine to mock the analytic-synthetic distinction, that led Sellars to abandon the Lockean idea of pre-linguistic awareness, and made Davidson repudiate the very idea of a conceptual scheme. Students of the history of philosophy in the twenty-second century will, I predict, have to struggle through the technicalities that litter this train of thought, just as today’s students have to struggle through the technicalities of Kant’s CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. . For all its pretentious architectonic and its Rube Goldberg-style solutions of pointless pseudo-puzzles, Kant’s book has turned out to have transformative, ethico-religious, effects. We think about ourselves differently because Kant wrote what he did. For all its pseudo-scientistic pretensions, and despite the countless dead ends it has backed itself into, twentieth-century analytic philosophy will also have transformative effects, and so will put our descendants in its debt. Analytic philosophy may not have lived up to its pretensions, and may not have solved the puzzles it thought it had. Yet in the process of finding reasons for putting those pretensions and those puzzles aside it helped earn itself an important place in the history of ideas. By giving up on the quest for apodicticity and finality that Husserl shared with Carnap and Russell, and by finding new reasons for thinking that that quest will never succeed, it cleared a path that leads us past scientism, just as the German idealists cleared a path that led us around empiricism. The anti-empiricist lesson of German idealism took a long time to learn, and so may the anti-scientistic lesson of analytic philosophy. But someday intellectual historians may be able to see these apparently opposed movements as complementary. Richard Rorty November 10, 1999

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