Analytic philosophy (sometimes analytical philosophy) is a style of philosophy that came to dominate English-speaking countries in the 20th century. In the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Scandinavia, Australia, and New Zealand, the vast majority of university philosophy departments identify themselves as "analytic" departments.
The term "analytic philosophy" can refer to:
- A broad philosophical tradition characterized by an emphasis on clarity and argument (often achieved via modern formal logic and analysis of language) and a respect for the natural sciences.
- The more specific set of developments of early 20th-century philosophy that were the historical antecedents of the broad sense: e.g., the work of Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, G. E. Moore, Gottlob Frege, and logical positivists.
In this latter, narrower sense, analytic philosophy is identified with specific philosophical commitments (many of which are rejected by many contemporary analytic philosophers), such as:
- The logical positivist principle that there are no specifically philosophical truths and that the object of philosophy is the logical clarification of thoughts. This may be contrasted with the traditional foundationalism, which considers philosophy to be a special science (i.e. discipline of knowledge) that investigates the fundamental reasons and principles of everything. Consequently, many analytic philosophers have considered their inquiries as continuous with, or subordinate to, those of the natural sciences.
- The principle that the logical clarification of thoughts can only be achieved by analysis of the logical form of philosophical propositions. The logical form of a proposition is a way of representing it (often using the formal grammar and symbolism of a logical system) to display its similarity with all other propositions of the same type. However, analytic philosophers disagree widely about the correct logical form of ordinary language.
- The rejection of sweeping philosophical systems in favour of attention to detail, or ordinary language.
According to a characteristic paragraph by Bertrand Russell:
"Modern analytical empiricism [...] differs from that of Locke, Berkeley, and Hume by its incorporation of mathematics and its development of a powerful logical technique. It is thus able, in regard to certain problems, to achieve definite answers, which have the quality of science rather than of philosophy. It has the advantage, in comparison with the philosophies of the system-builders, of being able to tackle its problems one at a time, instead of having to invent at one stroke a block theory of the whole universe. Its methods, in this respect, resemble those of science. I have no doubt that, in so far as philosophical knowledge is possible, it is by such methods that it must be sought; I have also no doubt that, by these methods, many ancient problems are completely soluble."
- Ideal language analysis 1.1
- Logical positivism 1.2
- Ordinary language analysis 1.3
Contemporary analytic philosophy 2
- Philosophy of mind and cognitive science 2.1
Ethics in analytic philosophy 2.2
- Normative ethics 2.2.1
- Meta-ethics 2.2.2
- Applied ethics 2.2.3
- Analytic philosophy of religion 2.3
Political philosophy 2.4
- Liberalism 2.4.1
- Analytical Marxism 2.4.2
- Communitarianism 2.4.3
- Analytic metaphysics 2.5
- Philosophy of language 2.6
- Philosophy of science 2.7
- Epistemology 2.8
- Aesthetics 2.9
- See also 3
- Notes 4
- References 5
- Further reading 6
- External links 7
Late 19th-century English philosophy was dominated by British idealism, as taught by philosophers like F.H. Bradley and Thomas Hill Green. It was against this intellectual background that the founders of analytic philosophy, G. E. Moore and Bertrand Russell, articulated the program of early analytic philosophy.
Since its beginning, a basic principle of analytic philosophy has been conceptual clarity, in the name of which Moore and Russell rejected Hegelianism, which they accused of obscurity. Inspired by developments in modern logic, the early Russell claimed that the problems of philosophy can be solved by showing the simple constituents of complex notions. An important aspect of British idealism was logical holism — the view that the aspects of the world cannot be wholly known without also knowing the whole world. This is closely related to the view that relations between things are actually internal relations, that is, properties internal to the nature of those things. Russell, along with Wittgenstein, in response promulgated logical atomism and the doctrine of external relations — the belief that the world consists of independent facts.
Russell, during his early career, along with his collaborator Alfred North Whitehead, was much influenced by Gottlob Frege, who developed predicate logic, which allowed a much greater range of sentences to be parsed into logical form than was possible with the ancient Aristotelian logic. Frege was also an influential philosopher of mathematics in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. In contrast to Husserl's 1891 book Philosophie der Arithmetik, which attempted to show that the concept of the cardinal number derived from psychical acts of grouping objects and counting them, Frege sought to show that mathematics and logic have their own validity, independent of the judgments or mental states of individual mathematicians and logicians (which were the basis of arithmetic according to the "psychologism" of Husserl's Philosophie). Frege further developed his philosophy of logic and mathematics in The Foundations of Arithmetic and The Basic Laws of Arithmetic where he provided an alternative to psychologistic accounts of the concept of number.
Like Frege, Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead attempted to show that mathematics is reducible to fundamental logical principles. Their Principia Mathematica (1910–1913) encouraged many philosophers to renew their interest with the development of symbolic logic. Additionally, Bertrand Russell adopted Frege's predicate logic as his primary philosophical method, a method Russell thought could expose the underlying structure of philosophical problems. For example, the English word “is” has three distinct meanings which can be parsed in predicate logic as the following:
- For the sentence 'the cat is asleep', the is of predication means that "x is P" (denoted as P(x))
- For the sentence 'there is a cat', the is of existence means that "there is an x" (∃x);
- For the sentence 'three is half of six', the is of identity means that "x is the same as y" (x=y).
Russell sought to resolve various philosophical issues by applying such logical distinctions, most famously in his analysis of definite descriptions in "On Denoting."
Ideal language analysis
From about 1910 to 1930, analytic philosophers like Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein emphasized creating an ideal language for philosophical analysis, which would be free from the ambiguities of ordinary language that, in their opinion, often made philosophy invalid. This philosophical trend can be called "ideal-language analysis" or "formalism". During this phase, Russell and Wittgenstein sought to understand language, and hence philosophical problems, by using formal logic to formalize the way in which philosophical statements are made. Ludwig Wittgenstein developed a comprehensive system of logical atomism in his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. He thereby argued that the world is the totality of actual states of affairs and that these states of affairs can be expressed by the language of first-order predicate logic. Thus a picture of the world can be construed by means of expressing atomic facts in the form of atomic propositions, and linking them using logical operators.
During the late 1920s, '30s, and '40s, Russell and Wittgenstein's formalism was developed by a group of philosophers in Vienna and Berlin, who were known as the Vienna Circle and Berlin Circle respectively, into a doctrine known as logical positivism (or logical empiricism). Logical positivism used formal logical methods to develop an empiricist account of knowledge. Philosophers such as Rudolf Carnap and Hans Reichenbach, along with other members of the Vienna Circle, claimed that the truths of logic and mathematics were tautologies, and those of science were verifiable empirical claims. These two constituted the entire universe of meaningful judgments; anything else was nonsense. The claims of ethics, aesthetics and theology were, accordingly, pseudo-statements, neither true nor false, simply meaningless. Karl Popper's insistence upon the role of falsification in the philosophy of science was a reaction to the logical positivists. With the coming to power of Adolf Hitler and National Socialism in Germany and Austria, many members of the Vienna and Berlin Circles fled Germany, most commonly to Britain and America, which helped to reinforce the dominance of logical positivism and analytic philosophy in the Anglophone countries.
Logical positivists typically considered philosophy as having a very limited function. For them, philosophy concerned the clarification of thoughts, rather than having a distinct subject matter of its own. The positivists adopted the verification principle, according to which every meaningful statement is either analytic or is capable of being verified by experience. This caused the logical positivists to reject many traditional problems of philosophy, especially those of metaphysics or ontology, as meaningless.
Ordinary language analysis
After World War II, during the late 1940s and 1950s, analytic philosophy took a turn toward ordinary-language analysis. This movement had two main strands. One followed in the wake of Wittgenstein's later philosophy, which departed dramatically from his early work of the Tractatus. The other, known as "Oxford philosophy", involved J. L. Austin. In contrast to earlier analytic philosophers (including the early Wittgenstein) who thought philosophers should avoid the deceptive trappings of natural language by constructing ideal languages, ordinary language philosophers claimed that ordinary language already represented a large number of subtle distinctions that had been unrecognized in the formulation of traditional philosophical theories or problems. While schools such as logical positivism emphasize logical terms, supposed to be universal and separate from contingent factors (such as culture, language, historical conditions), ordinary language philosophy emphasizes the use of language by ordinary people. The best-known ordinary language philosophers during the 1950s were Austin and Gilbert Ryle.
Ordinary language philosophy often sought to dissolve philosophical problems by showing them to be the result of misunderstanding ordinary language. See for example Ryle (who attempted to dispose of "Descartes' myth") and Wittgenstein, among others.
Contemporary analytic philosophy
Although contemporary philosophers who self-identify as "analytic" have widely divergent interests, assumptions, and methods—and have often rejected the fundamental premises that defined the analytic movement before 1960—analytic philosophy, in its contemporary state, is usually taken to be defined by a particular style characterized by precision and thoroughness about a narrow topic, and resistance to "imprecise or cavalier discussions of broad topics."
In the 1950s, logical positivism was influentially challenged by Wittgenstein in the Philosophical Investigations, Quine in "Two Dogmas of Empiricism", and Sellars in Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind. Following 1960, Anglophone philosophy began to incorporate a wider range of interests, views, and methods. Still, many philosophers in Britain and America still consider themselves to be "analytic philosophers." Largely, they have done so by expanding the notion of "analytic philosophy" from the specific programs that dominated Anglophone philosophy before 1960 to a much more general notion of an "analytic" style. This interpretation of the history is far from universally accepted, and its opponents would say that it grossly downplays the role of Wittgenstein in the sixties and seventies.
Many philosophers and historians have attempted to define or describe analytic philosophy. Those definitions often include a focus on conceptual analysis: A.P. Martinich draws an analogy between analytic philosophy's interest in conceptual analysis and analytic chemistry, which "aims at determining chemical compositions." Steven D. Hales described analytic philosophy as one of three types of philosophical method practiced in the West: "[i]n roughly reverse order by number of proponents, they are phenomenology, ideological philosophy, and analytic philosophy".
Scott Soames agrees that clarity is important: analytic philosophy, he says, has "an implicit commitment—albeit faltering and imperfect—to the ideals of clarity, rigor and argumentation" and it "aims at truth and knowledge, as opposed to moral or spiritual improvement [...] the goal in analytic philosophy is to discover what is true, not to provide a useful recipe for living one's life". Soames also states that analytic philosophy is characterised by "a more piecemeal approach. There is, I think, a widespread presumption within the tradition that it is often possible to make philosophical progress by intensively investigating a small, circumscribed range of philosophical issues while holding broader, systematic questions in abeyance".
A few of the most important and active fields and subfields in analytic philosophy are summarized in the following sections.
Philosophy of mind and cognitive science
Motivated by the logical positivists' interest in verificationism, logical behaviorism was the most prominent theory of mind in analytic philosophy for the first half of the twentieth century. Behaviorists tended to hold either that statements about the mind were equivalent to statements about behavior and dispositions to behave in particular ways or that mental states were directly equivalent to behavior and dispositions to behave. Behaviorism later became far less popular, in favor of type physicalism or functionalism, theories that identified mental states with brain states. During this period, topics in the philosophy of mind were often in close contact with issues in cognitive science such as modularity or innateness. Finally, analytic philosophy has featured a few philosophers who were dualists, and recently forms of property dualism have had a resurgence, with David Chalmers as the most prominent representative.
John Searle suggests that the obsession with the philosophy of language of the last century has been superseded by an emphasis on the philosophy of mind, in which functionalism is currently the dominant theory. In recent years, a central focus for research in the philosophy of mind has been consciousness. And while there is a general consensus for the global neuronal workspace model of consciousness, there are many views as to how the specifics work out. The best known theories are Daniel Dennett's heterophenomenology, Fred Dretske and Michael Tye's representationalism, and the higher-order theories of either David M. Rosenthal—who advocates a higher-order thought (HOT) model—or David Armstrong and William Lycan—who advocate a higher-order perception (HOP) model. An alternative higher-order theory, the higher-order global states (HOGS) model, is offered by Robert van Gulick.
Ethics in analytic philosophy
Philosophers working in the analytic tradition have gradually come to distinguish three major branches of moral philosophy.
- Meta-ethics whose function is the investigation of moral terms and concepts
- Normative ethics whose function is the examination and production of normative ethical judgments
- Applied ethics whose function is the investigation of how existing normative principles should be applied in difficult or borderline cases, often cases created by the appearance of new technologies or new scientific knowledge.
The first half of the twentieth century was marked by skepticism toward, and neglect of, normative ethics. Related subjects, such as social and political philosophy, aesthetics, and philosophy of history, moved to the fringes of English-language philosophy during this period.
During this time, utilitarianism was the only non-skeptical approach to ethics to remain popular. However, as the influence of logical positivism began to wane mid-century, contemporary analytic philosophers began to have a renewed interest in ethics. G.E.M. Anscombe’s 1958 Modern Moral Philosophy sparked a revival of Aristotle's virtue ethical approach and John Rawls’s 1971 A Theory of Justice restored interest in Kantian ethical philosophy. At present, contemporary normative ethics is dominated by three schools: utilitarianism, virtue ethics, and deontology.
Twentieth-century meta-ethics has two roots. The first is G. E. Moore's investigation into the nature of ethical terms (e.g. good) in his Principia Ethica (1903), which identified the naturalistic fallacy. Along with Hume's famous is/ought distinction, the naturalistic fallacy was a central point of investigation for analytical philosophers.
The second is in logical positivism and its attitude that statements which are unverifiable are meaningless. Although that attitude was adopted originally as a means to promote scientific investigation of the world by rejecting grand metaphysical systems, it had the side effect of making (ethical and aesthetic) value judgments (as well as religious statements and beliefs) meaningless. But since value judgments are obviously of major importance in human life, it became incumbent on logical positivism to develop an explanation of the nature and meaning of value judgements. As a result, analytic philosophers avoided normative ethics, and instead began meta-ethical investigations into the nature of moral terms, statements, and judgments.
The logical positivists held that statements about value—including all ethical and aesthetic judgments—are non-cognitive; that is, they make no statements that can be objectively verified or falsified. Instead, the logical positivists adopted an emotivist position, which held that value judgments expressed the attitude of the speaker. Saying, "Killing is wrong", they thought, was equivalent to saying, "Boo to murder", or saying the word "murder" with a particular tone of disapproval.
While non-cognitivism was generally accepted by analytic philosophers, emotivism had many deficiencies, and evolved into more sophisticated non-cognitivist positions such as the expressivism of Charles Stevenson, and the universal prescriptivism of R. M. Hare, which had its foundations in J. L. Austin's philosophy of speech acts.
These positions were not without their critics. Phillipa Foot contributed several essays attacking all these positions. J. O. Urmson's article "On Grading" called the is/ought distinction into question.
As non-cognitivism, the is/ought distinction, and the naturalistic fallacy began to be called into question, analytic philosophers began to show a renewed interest in the traditional questions of moral philosophy. Perhaps most influential in this area was Elizabeth Anscombe, whose landmark monograph Intention was called by Donald Davidson "the most important treatment of action since Aristotle", and is widely regarded as a masterpiece of moral psychology. A favorite student and close friend of Ludwig Wittgenstein, her 1958 article "Modern Moral Philosophy" introduced the term "consequentialism" into the philosophical lexicon, declared the "is-ought" impasse to be a dead end, and led to a revival in virtue ethics.
A significant feature of analytic philosophy since approximately 1970 has been the emergence of applied ethics—an interest in the application of moral principles to specific practical issues.
Analytic philosophy of religion
In Analytic Philosophy of Religion, Harris noted that
analytic philosophy has been a very heterogeneous 'movement'.... some forms of analytic philosophy have proven very sympathetic to the philosophy of religion and have actually provided a philosophical mechanism for responding to other more radical and hostile forms of analytic philosophy.:3
As with the study of ethics, early analytic philosophy tended to avoid the study of philosophy of religion, largely dismissing (as per the logical positivists' view) the subject as part of metaphysics and therefore meaningless. The collapse of logical positivism renewed interest in philosophy of religion, prompting philosophers like William Alston, John Mackie, Alvin Plantinga, Robert Merrihew Adams, Richard Swinburne, and Antony Flew not only to introduce new problems, but to re-open classical topics such as the nature of miracles, theistic arguments, the problem of evil, (see existence of God) the rationality of belief in God, concepts of the nature of God, and many more.
Plantinga, Mackie and Flew debated the logical validity of the free will defense as a way to solve the problem of evil. Alston, grappling with the consequences of analytic philosophy of language, worked on the nature of religious language. Adams worked on the relationship of faith and morality. Analytic epistemology and metaphysics has formed the basis for a number of philosophically-sophisticated theistic arguments, like those of the reformed epistemologists like Plantinga.
Analytic philosophy of religion has also been preoccupied with Ludwig Wittgenstein, as well as his interpretation of Søren Kierkegaard's philosophy of religion. Using first-hand remarks (which was later published in Philosophical Investigations, Culture and Value, and other works), philosophers such as Peter Winch and Norman Malcolm developed what has come to be known as contemplative philosophy, a Wittgensteinian school of thought rooted in the "Swansea tradition," and which includes Wittgensteinians such as Rush Rhees, Peter Winch, and D. Z. Phillips, among others. The name "contemplative philosophy" was first coined by D. Z. Phillips in Philosophy's Cool Place, which rests on an interpretation of a passage from Wittgenstein's "Culture and Value." This interpretation was first labeled, "Wittgensteinian Fideism," by Kai Nielsen but those who consider themselves Wittgensteinians in the Swansea tradition have relentlessly and repeatedly rejected this construal as a caricature of Wittgenstein's considered position; this is especially true of D. Z. Phillips. Responding to this interpretation, Kai Nielsen and D.Z. Phillips became two of the most prominent philosophers on Wittgenstein's philosophy of religion.
Current analytic political philosophy owes much to John Rawls, who in a series of papers from the 1950s onward (most notably "Two Concepts of Rules" and "Justice as Fairness") and his 1971 book A Theory of Justice, produced a sophisticated and closely argued defence of a broadly liberal egalitarian account of distributive justice. This was followed in short order by Rawls's colleague Robert Nozick's book Anarchy, State, and Utopia, a defence of free-market libertarianism. Isaiah Berlin also had a lasting influence on both analytic political philosophy and Liberalism with his lecture the Two Concepts of Liberty.
Recent decades have also seen the rise of several critiques of liberalism, including the feminist critiques of Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin, the communitarian critiques of Michael Sandel and Alasdair MacIntyre (though it should be noted both shy away from the term), and the multiculturalist critiques of Amy Gutmann and Charles Taylor. Although not an analytic philosopher, Jürgen Habermas is another important—if controversial—figure in contemporary analytic political philosophy, whose social theory is a blend of social science, Marxism, neo-Kantianism, and American pragmatism.
Consequentialist libertarianism also derives from the analytic tradition.
Another development in the area of political philosophy has been the emergence of a school known as Analytical Marxism. Members of this school seek to apply the techniques of analytic philosophy, along with tools of modern social science such as rational choice theory to the elucidation of the theories of Karl Marx and his successors. The best-known member of this school is G. A. Cohen, whose 1978 work, Karl Marx's Theory of History: A Defence, is generally taken as representing the genesis of this school. In that book, Cohen applied the tools of logical and linguistic analysis to the elucidation and defense of Marx's materialist conception of history. Other prominent Analytical Marxists include the economist John Roemer, the social scientist Jon Elster, and the sociologist Erik Olin Wright. The work of these later philosophers have furthered Cohen's work by bringing to bear modern social science methods, such as rational choice theory, to supplement Cohen's use of analytic philosophical techniques in the interpretation of Marxian theory.
Cohen himself would later engage directly with Rawlsian political philosophy to advance a socialist theory of justice that stands in contrast to both traditional Marxism and the theories advanced by Rawls and Nozick. In particular, he points to Marx's principle of from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.
Communitarians such as Alasdair MacIntyre, Charles Taylor, Michael Walzer, and Michael Sandel advance a critique of Liberalism that uses analytic techniques to isolate the key assumptions of Liberal individualists, such as Rawls, and then challenges these assumptions. In particular, Communitarians challenge the Liberal assumption that the individual can be viewed as fully autonomous from the community in which he lives and is brought up. Instead, they push for a conception of the individual that emphasizes the role that the community plays in shaping his or her values, thought processes and opinions.
One striking break with early analytic philosophy was the revival of metaphysical theorizing in the second half of the twentieth century. Philosophers such as David Kellogg Lewis and David Armstrong developed elaborate theories on a range of topics such as universals, causation, possibility and necessity, and abstract objects.
Among the developments that led to the revival of metaphysical theorizing were Quine's attack on the analytic-synthetic distinction, which was generally taken to undermine Carnap's distinction between existence questions internal to a framework and those external to it. Important also for the revival of metaphysics was the further development of modal logic, including the work of Saul Kripke, who argued in Naming and Necessity and elsewhere for the existence of essences and the possibility of necessary, a posteriori truths.
Metaphysics remains a fertile area for research, having recovered from the attacks of A.J. Ayer and the logical positivists. And though many discussions are continuations of old ones, inherited from previous decades and centuries, the debate remains fierce. The philosophy of fiction, the problem of empty names, and the debate over existence's status as a property have all risen out of relative obscurity to become central concerns, while perennial issues such as free will, possible worlds, and the philosophy of time have had new life breathed into them.
Science has also played an increasingly significant role in metaphysics. The theory of special relativity has had a profound effect on the philosophy of time, and quantum physics is routinely discussed in the free will debate. The weight given to scientific evidence is largely due to widespread commitments among philosophers to scientific realism and naturalism.
Philosophy of language
Philosophy of language is another area that has slowed down over the course of the last four decades, as evidenced by the fact that few major figures in contemporary philosophy treat it as a primary research area. Indeed, while the debate remains fierce, it is still strongly under the influence of those figures from the first half of the century: Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, J.L. Austin, Alfred Tarski, and W.V.O. Quine.
In Naming and Necessity, Kripke influentially argued that flaws in common theories of proper names are indicative of larger misunderstandings of the metaphysics of necessity and possibility. By wedding the tools of modal logic to a causal theory of reference, Kripke was widely regarded as reviving theories of essence and identity as respectable topics of philosophical discussion.
Another influential philosopher, Pavel Tichý founded Transparent Intensional Logic, an original theory of the logical analysis of natural languages – the theory is devoted to the problem of saying exactly what it is that we learn, know and can communicate when we come to understand what a sentence means.
Philosophy of science
Reacting against both the verificationism of the logical positivists on the one hand, and the philosopher of science Karl Popper, who had suggested the falsifiability criterion on which to judge the demarcation between science and non-science, discussions in philosophy of science in the last forty years were dominated by social constructivist and cognitive relativist theories of science. Thomas Samuel Kuhn with his formulation of paradigm shifts and Paul Feyerabend with his epistemological anarchism are significant figures in these discussions. The philosophy of biology has also undergone considerable growth, particularly due to the considerable debate in recent years over the nature of evolution, particularly natural selection. Daniel Dennett and his 1995 book Darwin's Dangerous Idea, which defends Neo-Darwinism, stand at the foreground of this debate.
Owing largely to Gettier's 1963 paper "Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?", epistemology saw a resurgence within analytic philosophy over the last 50 years. A large portion of current epistemological research aims to resolve the problems that Gettier's examples presented to the traditional justified true belief model of knowledge, including developing theories of justification in order to deal with Gettier's examples, or giving alternatives to the justified true belief model. Other and related areas of contemporary research include debates between internalism and externalism, basic knowledge, the nature of evidence, the value of knowledge, epistemic luck, virtue epistemology, the role of intuitions in justification, and treating knowledge as a primitive concept.
In the wake of attacks on the traditional aesthetic notions of beauty and sublimity from post-modern thinkers, analytic philosophers were slow in taking on analyses of art and aesthetic judgment. Susanne Langer and Nelson Goodman addressed these problems in an analytic style in the 1950s and 60s. Since Goodman, aesthetics as a discipline for analytic philosophers has flourished. Rigorous efforts to pursue analyses of traditional aesthetic concepts were undertaken by Guy Sircello in the 1970s and 80s, resulting in new analytic theories of love, sublimity, and beauty.
- "Without exception, the best philosophy departments in the United States are dominated by analytic philosophy, and among the leading philosophers in the United States, all but a tiny handful would be classified as analytic philosophers. Practitioners of types of philosophizing that are not in the analytic tradition—such as phenomenology, classical pragmatism, existentialism, or Marxism—feel it necessary to define their position in relation to analytic philosophy." John Searle (2003) Contemporary Philosophy in the United States in N. Bunnin and E.P. Tsui-James (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Philosophy, 2nd ed., (Blackwell, 2003), p. 1.
- See, e.g., Avrum Stroll, Twentieth-Century Analytic Philosophy (Columbia University Press, 2000), p. 5: "[I]t is difficult to give a precise definition of 'analytic philosophy' since it is not so much a specific doctrine as a loose concatenation of approaches to problems." Also, see Stroll (2000), p. 7: "I think Sluga is right in saying 'it may be hopeless to try to determine the essence of analytic philosophy.' Nearly every proposed definition has been challenged by some scholar. [...] [W]e are dealing with a family resemblance concept."
- See Hans-Johann Glock, What Is Analytic Philosophy (Cambridge University Press, 2008), p. 205: "The answer to the title question, then, is that analytic philosophy is a tradition held together both by ties of mutual influence and by family resemblances."
- Brian Leiter (2006) webpage “Analytic” and “Continental” Philosophy. Quote on the definition: "'Analytic' philosophy today names a style of doing philosophy, not a philosophical program or a set of substantive views. Analytic philosophers, crudely speaking, aim for argumentative clarity and precision; draw freely on the tools of logic; and often identify, professionally and intellectually, more closely with the sciences and mathematics, than with the humanities."
- Glock, H. J. (2004). "Was Wittgenstein an Analytic Philosopher?". Metaphilosophy 35 (4): 419–444.
- Colin McGinn, The Making of a Philosopher: My Journey through Twentieth-Century Philosophy (HarperCollins, 2002), p. xi.: "analytical philosophy [is] too narrow a label, since [it] is not generally a matter of taking a word or concept and analyzing it (whatever exactly that might be). [...] This tradition emphasizes clarity, rigor, argument, theory, truth. It is not a tradition that aims primarily for inspiration or consolation or ideology. Nor is it particularly concerned with 'philosophy of life,' though parts of it are. This kind of philosophy is more like science than religion, more like mathematics than poetry – though it is neither science nor mathematics."
- See Aristotle Metaphysics (Book II 993a), Kenny (1973) p. 230.
- This is an attitude that begins with John Locke, who described his work as that of an "underlabourer" to the achievements of natural scientists such as Newton. During the twentieth century, the most influential advocate of the continuity of philosophy with science was Willard Van Orman Quine: see, e.g., his papers "Two Dogmas of Empiricism" and "Epistemology Naturalized".
- A.P. Martinich, "Introduction," in Martinich & D. Sosa (eds.), A Companion to Analytic Philosophy (Blackwell, 2001), p. 1: "To use a general name for the kind of analytic philosophy practiced during the first half of the twentieth century, [...] 'conceptual analysis' aims at breaking down complex concepts into their simpler components."
- Wittgenstein, op. cit., 4.111
- Scott Soames, Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century Vol. 1 (Princeton UP, 2003), p. xv: "There is, I think, a widespread presumption within the tradition that it is often possible to make philosophical progress by intensively investigating a small, circumscribed range of philosophical issues while holding broader, systematic questions in abeyance. What distinguishes twentieth-century analytical philosophy from at least some philosophy in other traditions, or at other times, is not a categorical rejection of philosophical systems, but rather the acceptance of a wealth of smaller, more thorough and more rigorous, investigations that need not be tied to any overarching philosophical view." See also, e.g., "Philosophical Analysis" (catalogued under "Analysis, Philosophical") in Encyclopedia of Philosophy , Vol. 1 (Macmillan, 1967), esp. sections on "Bertrand Russell" at p. 97ff, "G.E. Moore" at p. 100ff, and "Logical Positivism" at p. 102ff.
- See, e.g., the works of G.E. Moore and J.L. Austin.
- A History of Western Philosophy (Simon & Schuster, 1945), p. 834.
- A.C. Grayling (ed.), Philosophy 2: Further through the Subject (Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 2: "Analytic philosophy is mainly associated with the contemporary English-speaking world, but it is by no means the only important philosophical tradition. In this volume two other immensely rich and important such traditions are introduced: Indian philosophy, and philosophical thought in Europe from the time of Hegel." L.J. Cohen, The Dialogue of Reason: An Analysis of Analytical Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 1986), p. 5: "So, despite a few overlaps, analytical philosophy is not difficult to distinguish broadly [...] from other modern movements, like phenomenology, say, or existentialism, or from the large amount of philosophizing that has also gone on in the present century within frameworks deriving from other influential thinkers like Aquinas, Hegel, or Marx." H.-J. Glock, What Is Analytic Philosophy? (Cambridge University Press, 2008), p. 86: "Most non-analytic philosophers of the twentieth century do not belong to continental philosophy."
- Mautner, Thomas (editor) (2005) The Penguin Dictionary of Philosophy, entry for 'Analytic philosophy, pp.22–3
- See for example Moore's A Defence of Common Sense and Russell's critique of the Doctrine of internal relations,
- "Analytic philosophy opposed right from its beginning English neo-Hegelianism of Bradley's sort and similar ones. It did not only criticize the latter's denial of the existence of an external world (anyway an unjust criticism), but also the bombastic, obscure style of Hegel's writings." Jonkers, Peter (2003). "Perspectives on Twentieth Century Philosophy:A Reply to Tom Rockmore".
- Baillie, James, "Introduction to Bertrand Russell" in Contemporary Analytic Philosophy, Second Edition (Prentice Hall, 1997), p. 25.
- Willard, Dallas. "Husserl on a Logic that Failed". Philosophical Review 89 (1): 52–53.
- Russell, Bertrand (1905). "On Denoting".
- Carnap, R. (1928). The Logical Structure of the World. Felix Meiner Verlag.
- Popper, Karl R. (2002). The Logic of Scientific Discovery. Routledge.
- Important amongst these were Ludwig Wittgenstein and Rudolf Carnap. Karl Popper might also be included, since despite his rejection of the term his method is similar to the analytic tradition.
- Analytic Philosophy Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Hales, Steven D. (2002). Analytic philosophy : classic readings. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning. pp. 1–10.
- Soames, Scott (2003). The dawn of analysis (2nd print., 1st paperb. print. ed.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press. pp. xiii–xvii.
- Graham, George, "Behaviorism", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2010 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.). 
- Dualism entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Postrel and Feser, February 2000, Reality Principles: An Interview with John R. Searle at http://www.reason.com/news/show/27599.html
- Dennett, D. (2001). "Are we explaining consciousness yet?". Cognition 79 (1–2): 221–237.
- For summaries and some criticism of the different higher-order theories, see Van Gulick, Robert (2006) "Mirror Mirror—Is That All?" In Kriegel & Williford (eds.), Self-Representational Approaches to Consciousness. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. The final draft is also available here . For Van Gulick's own view, see Van Gulick, Robert. "Higher-Order Global States HOGS: An Alternative Higher-Order Model of Consciousness." In Gennaro, R.J., (ed.) Higher-Order Theories of Consciousness: An Anthology. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
- Brennan, Andrew and Yeuk-Sze Lo (2002). "Environmental Ethics" §2, in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
- Gruen, Lori (2003). "The Moral Status of Animals," in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
- See Hursthouse, Rosalind (2003). "Virtue Ethics" §3, in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and Donchin, Anne (2004). "Feminist Bioethics" in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
- Harris, James Franklin (2002). Analytic philosophy of religion. Dordrecht: Kluwer. (432 pages) (volume 3 of Handbook of Contemporary Philosophy of Religion, ISSN 1568-1556)
- (a notable exception is the series of Michael B. Forest's 1934–36 Mind articles involving the Christian doctrine of creation and the rise of modern science).
- Peterson, Michael et al. (2003). Reason and Religious Belief
- Mackie, John L. (1982). The Miracle of Theism: Arguments For and Against the Existence of God
- Adams, Robert M. (1987). The Virtue of Faith And Other Essays in Philosophical Theology
- Creegan, Charles. (1989). Wittgenstein and Kierkegaard: Religion, Individuality and Philosophical Method
- Phillips, D. Z. (1999). Philosophy's Cool Place. Cornell University Press. The quote is from Wittgenstein's Culture and Value (2e): "My ideal is a certain coolness. A temple providing a setting for the passions without meddling with them.
- Fideism entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Nielsen, Kai and D.Z. Phillips. (2005). Wittgensteinian Fideism?
- S. Yablo and A. Gallois, Does Ontology Rest on a Mistake?, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volumes, Vol. 72, (1998), pp. 229-261+263-283 first part
- Zimmerman, Dean W., "Prologue" in Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, Volume 1 (Oxford University Press, 2004), p. xix.
- Everett, Anthony and Thomas Hofweber (eds.) (2000), Empty Names, Fiction and the Puzzles of Non-Existence.
- Van Inwagen, Peter, and Dean Zimmerman (eds.) (1998), Metaphysics: The Big Questions.
- Glock 2008, p. 47.
- Hull, David L. and Ruse, Michael, "Preface" in The Cambridge Companion to the Philosophy of Biology (Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. xix & xx.
- Lennox, James G., "Darwinism and Neo-Darwinism" in Sakar and Plutynski (eds.), A Companion to the Philosophy of Biology (Blackwell Publishing, 2008), p. 89.
- Bonjour, Laurence, "Recent Work on the Internalism—Externalism Controversy" in Dancy, Sosa, and Steup (eds.), A Companion to Epistemology, Second Edition (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), p. 33.
- Susanne Langer, Feeling and Form: A Theory of Art (1953)
- Nelson Goodman, Languages of Art: An Approach to a Theory of Symbols. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1968. 2nd ed. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1976. Based on his 1960-61 John Locke lectures.
- Kivy, Peter, "Introduction: Aesthetics Today" in The Blackwell Guide to Aesthetics (Blackwell Publishing, 2004), p. 4.
- Guy Sircello, Love and Beauty. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989.
- Guy Sircello "How Is a Theory of the Sublime Possible?" The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 51, No. 4 (Autumn, 1993), pp. 541-550
- Guy Sircello, A New Theory of Beauty. Princeton Essays on the Arts, 1. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1975.
- Aristotle, Metaphysics
- Geach, P., Mental Acts, London 1957
- Kenny, A.J.P., Wittgenstein, London 1973.
- Analytic philosophy entry by Aaron Preston in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
- The London Philosophy Study Guide offers many suggestions on what to read, depending on the student's familiarity with the subject: Frege, Russell, and Wittgenstein
- Dummett, Michael. The Origins of Analytical Philosophy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993.
- Hirschberger, Johannes. A Short History of Western Philosophy, ed. Clare Hay. Short History of Western Philosophy, A. ISBN 978-0-7188-3092-2
- Hylton, Peter. Russell, Idealism, and the Emergence of Analytic Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.
- Soames, Scott. Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century: Volume 1, The Dawn of Analysis. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003.
- Passmore, John. A Hundred Years of Philosophy, revised ed. New York: Basic Books, 1966.
- Weitz, Morris, ed. Twentieth Century Philosophy: The Analytic Tradition. New York: Free Press, 1966.
- Analytic philosophy entry in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Analytic philosophy entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Analytic philosophy at DMOZ