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.
Ever since the rise of the so-called analytic school in 20th century philosophy, philosophical analysis has often been considered to be synonymous with conceptual analysis. However, criticism has also been levelled at the conceptual analysis procedures, which undermined confidence in the merits of conceptual analysis. As far as the clarification of concepts is concerned, explication is therefore sometimes proposed as an alternative means. Combining historical and systematic perspectives, this volume collects new work on analytical and explicatory methods within 20th century philosophy. The contributions explore how clarificatory and reformatory methods of engaging with concepts have been construed and utilized by such different authors as Aristotle, Russell, Wittgenstein, Carnap or Mackie, marking out underappreciated congruencies and reevaluating historical disputes. They explore the role of analysis in metaphysics as well as metaethics and examine how methodological accounts relate to underlying ideas about concepts.