In Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations, one can find a number of remarks that could be seen as antithetical to classic philosophical analysis. There are passages seemingly rejecting the ideas of concept decomposition, regression to first principles, and semantic substitution. The criticism, I argue, is aimed not at analysis in particular, but rather at some idealizations that pervade a certain picture of philosophy. This picture can be contrasted with Wittgenstein’s pragmatist view of explanations of meaning which, I believe, can inform a different attitude towards philosophical method that aligns well with a vision of philosophy as conversation. If we think of philosophy as engaging in the development and exchange of explanations of meaning, we can see how various methods can coexist insofar as they are useful, and as long as the urge to sublimate them beyond our practices can be avoided.
What does the way we clarify and revise concepts reveal about the nature of concepts? This paper investigates the ontological commitments of conceptual analysis and explication regarding their supposed subject matter – concepts. It demonstrates the benefits of a cognitivist account of concepts, according to which they are not items on which the subject operates cognitively, but rather ways in which the subject operates. The proposed view helps to handle alternating references to ‘concepts’ and ‘terms’ in instructions on analysis and explication. Furthermore, its virtue lies not in the capacity to render concepts ‘shareable’ but in its ontological parsimony.
Pseudoproblems, pseudoquestions, pseudosentences (etc.) constitute an iridescent group of concepts which were prominently used by the Vienna Circle (including Wittgenstein). In the course of an explication this paper presents a compilation of the many different meanings that were given to these expressions. This includes the more prominent Viennese approaches as well as a more recent one by Roy Sorensen. A novel proposal concerning the use of the term is made, suggesting that nothing is just a pseudoproblem, but only relative to a certain state of discourse. While the paper follows an explicative methodology, several uses of ‘pseudoproblem’, including the explicated one, relate pseudoproblemhood to other kinds of analysis.
Conceptual analysis has been typically recognized as a traditional methodology within analytic philosophy, but many philosophers have heavily criticized it. In contrast, the methodology of Carnapian explication has been undergoing a revival as a methodological alternative due to its revisionary aim. I will make explicit the shared structural properties and goals of Carnapian explication and the kind of conceptual analysis advanced by the advocates of the Canberra Plan. Also, I will argue that although their goal to make philosophy more scientific is desirable, they cannot achieve their goal of clearly distinguishing philosophy from science. Moreover, since traditional conceptual analysis is an element of both revisionary methodologies, it is also unable to mark a clear distinction between them. The comparison throws some light on the relationship between traditional conceptual analysis and the two revisionary methodologies, their implicit theoretical commitments and deficiencies.
Collingwood’s An Essay on Philosophical Method provides an insightful critique of Russell’s analysis and metaphysics of logical atomism, proposing an unduly neglected neo-idealist alternative to Russell’s philosophical method. I summarize Collingwood’s critique of analysis and sympathetically outline the philosophical methodology of Collingwood’s post-Hegelian dialectical method: his scale of forms methodology, grounded on the overlap of philosophical classes. I then delineate Collingwood’s critique of the metaphysics of logical atomism, demonstrating how the scale of forms methodology is opposed to Russell’s logical atomism. Finally, I reflect on the reasons Collingwood’s Essay aroused little interest upon publication and the importance of continually rethinking the history of philosophy.
In this paper, it is argued that there are relevant similarities between Aristotle’s account of definition and Carnap’s account of explication. To show this, first, Aristotle’s conditions of adequacy for definitions are provided and an outline of the main critique put forward against Aristotle’s account of definition is given. Subsequently, Carnap’s conditions of adequacy for explications are presented and discussed. It is shown that Aristotle’s conditions of extensional correctness can be interpreted against the backdrop of Carnap’s condition of similarity once one skips Aristotelian essentialism and takes a Carnapian and more pragmatic stance. Finally, it is argued that, in general, a complementary rational reconstruction of both approaches allows for resolving problems of interpretational underdetermination.