Analytic Philosophy

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Analytic Philosophy


a trend of modern bourgeois philosophy, chiefly Anglo-American, which reduces philosophy to the analysis of linguistic and conceptual (usually considered, in the final analysis, the same way as the linguistic) modes of cognition. Here the philosophic-gnoseological analysis of the modes of cognition which is characteristic of classical philosophy and connected with the fundamental problems of the relation of subject and object is replaced, as a rule, by the investigation of specific scientific problems—logical, logicolinguistic, semiotic, and so on. Within the bounds of these investigations, the representatives of analytical philosophy have made definite progress in the study of the nature of linguistic tools of philosophy, the possibilities of logical formalization of fragments of “natural” language, the logicosemantic analysis of philosophical concepts, and such. At the same time, the advocates of analytical philosophy contrast this concept of analysis to philosophy as an investigation of fundamental problems of world view, treating the latter as “metaphysics” devoid of scientific cognitive importance. Analytical philosophy thereby continues the line of positivism in modern philosophy. Within modern analytical philosophy one can distinguish two trends: the philosophy of logical analysis, which employs the methodology of modern mathematical logic as a means of analysis, and linguistic philosophy, which rejects logical formalization as the basic method of analysis and is concerned with the investigation of types of usage of expressions in natural, everyday language, even when such language is applied in the formation of philosophical concepts. The first trend is represented by the logical empiricism of R. Carnap, H. Feigl, C. Hempel, and P. Frank—the direct continuation of Austro-German logical positivism on American soil—and by the so-called logical pragmatism of W. Quine, N. Goodman, and others. The philosophy of linguistic analysis (G. Ryle, J. Austin, P. Strawson, and J. Wisdom) achieved a prevailing influence in Great Britain. Although both trends are alike in their claims of having achieved a positivist “revolution in philosophy,” they express different frames of mind: whereas the philosophy of logical analysis is considered the philosophy of science and represents a line of so-called scientism in modern bourgeois philosophy, the advocates of the philosophy of linguistic analysis come out against any cult of scientific knowledge and are adherents of a “natural” relationship to the world, expressed in ordinary language.

The concept of analysis accepted in analytic philosophy emerges in the bourgeois philosophy of the 20th century in the works of B. Russell and G. Moore as a specific method of treating philosophical problems, which is in contrast to the speculative system-creation characteristic in particular of the absolute idealism of F. Bradley and B. Bosanquet. In essence, the points of departure and basic directions of analytical philosophy were already laid down in prewar neopositivism, particularly in the logical positivism of the Vienna circle and the English philosophers of the 1920’s and 1930’s, the followers of Moore and the later L. Wittgenstein. However, the term “analytical philosophy” itself became current only after World War II, embracing various neopositivist currents of bourgeois philosophy which took linguistic material as their subject of analysis. The dissemination of the term “analytical philosophy,” which displaced the term “neopositivism,” resulted mainly from setbacks in the realization of the neopositivist program even in its early stages—it proved impossible to eliminate classical philosophical problems to realize an all-embracing analysis of the “language of science” proceeding from neopositivist principles, to “de-ideologize” philosophy completely, and so on. While preserving the idea of analysis as “anti-metaphysics,” analytical philosophy as a contemporary stage in the evolution of neopositivism is characterized by a tendency to attain maximum freedom from any substantive premises of a philosophical nature (including such rigid gnoseological postulates of early neopositivism as the principle of verification), to regard analysis as pure technique, and to refuse to limit analysis to any presupposed forms connected with specific concepts of knowledge. Because of this, modern analytical philosophy leads either to the complete liquidation of itself as a philosophy, with the replacement of philosophical investigation by logicolinguistic, logicosemantic, and other such analysis, or to a return in veiled form to problems of a philosophical character. In addition, modern analytical philosophy is characterized by a drive to combine elements of different variants of analysis and to unite analysis to the concepts of existentialism, neo-Thomism, and others, which were traditionally considered the antithesis of modern positivism.


Begiashvili, A. F. Metod analiza v sovremennoi burzhuaznoi filosofii. Tbilisi, 1960.
Gellner, E. Slova i veshchi. Moscow, 1962. (Translated from English.)
Bogomolov, A. S. Anglo-amerikanskaia burzhuaznaia filosofiia epokhi imperializma. Moscow, 1964. Chapters 9–10.
Hill, T. E. Sovremennye teorii poznaniia, part 5. Moscow, 1965. (Translated from English.)
Sovremennaia idealisticheskaia gnoseologiia. Moscow, 1968.
Pap, A. Elements of Analytic Philosophy. New York, 1949.
The Revolution in Philosophy. With an introduction by G. Ryle. London, 1956.
Urmson, J. O. Philosophical Analysis. Oxford, 1956.
R. Ammerman, ed. Classics of Analytic Philosophy. New York, 1965.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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KEY WORDS: analytic philosophy broadly conceived, English, research, publications, non-English speaking countries
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