Students of Philosophy Association, Concordia University

Henry D. Aiken – The Rise of Analytic Philosophy in England

Posted by admin | 31 December 2008 | Comments Off

From: William Barrett and Henry D. Aiken, Philosophy in the Twentieth Century, (New York: Random House, 1962)

The Rise of Analytic Philosophy in England



At the turn of the twentieth century, English philosophy was largely under the domination of the English exponents of absolute idealism, T. H. Green, Bernard Bosanquet, and, above all, F. H. Bradley. Green is best remembered for his monumental edition of the works of Hume, whom he interpreted, characteristically, as an inadequate poser of questions which were more properly formulated by Kant and largely answered by the great German idealists, and for his own interesting ethical and political theories in which Hegel’s Philosophy of Right is, in typical British fashion, transformed into a liberal and indeed socialistic moral philosophy which is by no means oblivious to the more utilitarian doctrines of Hume and the philosophical radicals, Bentham and Mill. Bosanquet’s major influence was also in the spheres of moral and political philosophy and, significantly, in aesthetics, where he reformulated in terms more intelligible to the English the ideal of the work of art as a kind of perceptual microcosm of the organic reality referred to by the idealists as “the Absolute.” In ethics, Bosanquet sought to mediate between the spiritual imperatives of “the other world” and the empirical interests and pleasures of “this world.” And his view of social life, which in many ways parallels that of Dewey, conceives of the moral life of the community as something which grows out of individual co-operation in a social context in which each person is at once informed and liberated by his participation in the collective endeavors of the group. For those who are not offended by his idealist idioms, Bosanquet remains an interesting writer whose social thought, one imagines, is often deeper and truer than that of most of his contemporaries and immediate successors.

The most influential and perhaps the most powerful mind among the British idealists was F. H. Bradley, whose best-known contributions, significantly, lie mainly in the fields of logic and the theory of knowledge. Bradley was dissatisfied with the traditional British empiricism of Locke and Hume and Mill, which to his mind failed to distinguish adequately between questions of logic and questions of psychology, between questions concerning the meanings of propositions and those concerning their genesis. He sought to show how the meaning of any proposition which purports to state that something exhibits a certain quality is constantly breaking down, as we seek to explicate it, into a statement of its relations to other things, and how these relations in turn break down into an endless series of other relations in which the original subject of discussion ceases utterly to appear as a distinct object of thought. It was Bradley’s intention to show how shallow is the Humean thesis that ideas are “copies” of distinct and original impressions, which at best are “loosely” connected by natural association with one another. It was similarly his aim to show how pointless is a theory of truth which judges the truth of any proposition by its excisable “correspondence” to a distinct object in a world independent of experience. The validity of what philosophers call “appearances” cannot be measured by their correspondence to an external reality to which we have no independent access, but only by their coherence with other appearances within an infinitely extendable system of judgments. The world of appearance is a system of infinitely complex “internal” relations within which clear-cut, unambiguous ideas are impossible to find. There was, in consequence, an element of deep philosophical skepticism in Bradley’s thought, and while he passionately believed in the reality of the Absolute, which is the ultimate subject matter of all thought, he was doubtful of the adequacy of any human idea of it. As H. J. Paton puts it, the philosophy of the British idealists was “Hegelianism modified by Anglo-Saxon caution.” And in Bradley’s case this caution was to function as a preoccupation with problems of logic and meaning which the empirical tradition in British philosophy had been all too prone to ignore.

It is also characteristic of the British idealists, as of their German predecessors, to view their logical and metaphysical theories as of immense importance for the spiritual life. Bosanquet, for example, went so far as to assert that if we “experience the positive quality of the absolute,” “the intrinsic connexion of reality and value becomes here transparent to us.” And, in terms that seem strangely reminiscent of William James, James McTaggart, the teacher of G. E. Moore and Bertrand Russell, asserted that “The utility of metaphysics is to be found in the comfort it can give us.” Taken seriously, this bluntly pragmatic view of the function of metaphysical thought suggests, if it does not actually state, that the aim of metaphysics, unlike science, is not to describe the world but rather to enable us to adjust ourselves more happily to it. The implication seems to be that the “Reality” which, according to the idealists, lies beyond the ordinary appearances of things, is to be conceived not as an actual entity of a rather unlikely sort, but only as an ideal of perfect intellectual coherence and spiritual union. In that case, metaphysics cannot possibly be understood, as the older rationalists had conceived it, as an a priori super-science which purports merely to describe the most general traits of being, but rather as the encompassing normative discipline whose aim is to prescribe the most general principles of orientation that are necessary to the conduct of life in any sphere.

So conceived, it might seem perverse to criticize idealistic metaphysics on the ground that it does not provide any information about the world; that, so it might be argued, is not its intention. Unfortunately, the British idealists were unwilling (or unable) to view their doctrines merely as ideals of reason. Like their master Hegel, they always succumbed in the end to the further ambiguous and incontinent claim that the actual world of science and common sense is itself only an appearance of that perfect ideal reality, “the Absolute”; and that our middle-sized, garden-variety factual perceptions and judgments are imperfect, partial glimpses of what is ideally “there.” In short, as the preceding quotation from Bosanquet indicates, the idealists tended to blur the very distinction between fact and value, between what is and what ought to be, upon which their own defense of the essentially spiritual aim of metaphysics depended. Because of this they were subject to the charge, which was shortly to be made with such devastating effect by Moore and Russell, that they themselves were incurably muddle-headed, that their logic (what must be) was faulty; their conception of reality (what there is), paradoxical and sentimental; and their ethics (what ought to be), confused, complacent, and strangely grubby.

As we have already observed in our discussion of the pragmatists, it is possible at this distance in time to discern virtues in idealism which were totally obscure to Moore and Russell and their followers. And it seems clear at this late date that the latter, rather compulsively, threw out the elusive baby with the dark and murky bath. In some respects, their own radical break with idealism involved a return to an older, less self-conscious, “realistic” tradition whose own weaknesses would once again come to light only after much intellectual travail. At the time, however, it seemed a glorious relief to Moore and Russell to insist that a spade is only a spade, that their memory of last night’s dinner was not a dream of ultimate perfection, and that there is no reason in logic why, in saying that sugar is sweet, we must be supposed, if we only knew it, to be talking inadequately about an imponderable Something Else.

In their student days, Moore and Russell themselves had been enthusiastic admirers of Bradley. And they had experienced the comforting afflatus which comes when one “sees” that time is unreal and that nothing real can possibly exist. But for them it was a pleasure which did not last. Moore led the way by challenging the logic of Bradley’s characteristic arguments for idealism. In his charming “An Autobiography,” he tells how he came to question Bradley’s view that “the ‘meaning’ of an idea consists in a part of its content ‘cut off, fixed by the mind, and considered apart from the existence’ of the idea in question.” As he says, “It seemed to me, if I remember right, that the meaning of an idea was not anything ‘cut off’ from it, but something wholly independent of mind. I tried to argue for this position, and this was the beginning, I think, of certain tendencies in me which had led some people to call me a’Realist,’ and which was also the beginning of a break-away from belief in Bradley’s philosophy. ..:’ Soon Moore was insisting, from what he took to be a purely logical point of view, on the unimpugnable validity of the “common-sense” belief in the independence of an external world and in the independence of the world of “natural” fact from the “non-natural” domain of value. At the same time, however, he himself went beyond the purely logical thesis that judgments about what ought to be are not reducible to or deducible from factual statements about what is desired or agreeable or consistent—or real—to the “ontological” claim that in addition to all the good things in the world there is, besides, a unique, independent, and simple quality of goodness. And it is precisely at this point that Moore shows his own readiness to depart from ordinary logic and common sense and to follow the lead of rationalistic metaphysicians, from Plato to Hegel, who profess to be able to prove by purely dialectical arguments something about the nature of reality.

In fact, neither Moore nor Russell seems to have had any general doubts about the meaningfulness of metaphysical theories or arguments; nor did they question the ability of the intellect, unaided by empirical observation, to demonstrate the existence of abstract “objects” entirely remote from the cows and trees and mad Irishmen that populate the natural world of common sense. They were, to be sure, “analytical,” but only because they were much concerned about the meaning of particular concepts such as goodness, truth, and existence. And the reason for this concern, at first, was the belief that it is impossible to know whether something is good if one is completely confused about the nature of goodness or whether a statement is true if one hasn’t the foggiest notion of what it is to say that a statement is true. But neither Moore nor Russell was greatly concerned at first about general disciplinary questions as to the nature of philosophical analysis, or about the precise relations of philosophical theses to those of logic and science and ethics. They wanted, above all, to say what was true, or if not true, then at least clear and distinct. But to the question, “What is it to be clear?” they did not stay long for an answer. Consequently, unlike the pragmatists, they did not worry themselves overmuch about the meaning of meaning; nor did they, like the positivists, propose a general “theory” of meaning whose purpose it was to separate en bloc the good sheep of science and common sense from the naughty goats of metaphysical philosophy. They were pluralists to the manner born and were quite content to study the meaning of a particular form of words without having to ask in advance what is the nature of meaning, and to consider the validity of a particular philosophical argument without bothering to consider what a philosophical argument really amounts to.


G. E. Moore was born in a suburb of London in 1873, two years after the birth of Russell. As Moore himself has informed us, this is contrary to the common impression that Moore was the elder of the two. Also contrary to a widespread notion, Russell was already an accomplished student of philosophy when Moore entered Cambridge University in 1892. In the beginning, Moore’s interests were primarily in classics, of which he modestly aspired to become a teacher “to the Sixth Form of some Public School,” and “it was mainly owing to his [Russell's] advice and encouragement that I began to study philosophy.” Moore is characteristically punctilious in acknowledging his continuing philosophical debts to Russell as well as self-deprecatory in regard to Russell’s own professed debts to him. In his “An Autobiography,” he has remarked that, “I do not know that Russell has ever owed to me anything except mistakes; whereas I have owed to his published works ideas which were not mistakes and which I think very important.” This amusing Alphonse and Gaston act is perfectly sincere on both sides. It is probably true also that the influence of each upon the other was about equal, although of very different sorts. Their gifts and trainings were so unlike, and their destinies both as men and as thinkers so widely divergent, that one is bound to feel that neither could for very long remain teacher or pupil to the other and that they were joined by historical accident in an almost holy alliance against philosophical obscurity and bunkum. As we shall see, however, they did not in the end share the same views about the nature of obscurity or of bunkum. Russell was essentially a writer and (later) a publicist, whose immense influence upon other philosophers was owing mainly to the power of his incredibly facile and witty pen. Moore, on the other hand, was primarily a teacher, whose greatest impact was upon the students who came to Cambridge to study with him. The accomplished Russell was inventive, mercurial, almost too ready to change his mind when a better idea seemed to come in view. He moved with the greatest ease from immensely complicated inquiries into the logical foundations of mathematics to pacifistic propaganda that landed him in jail during the First World War, and from thence to a long and varied series of philosophical, historical, educational, and political writings whose impact upon the nonacademic intelligentsia, as well as upon professional philosophers, would be hard to overstate. Undoubtedly Russell has been the most widely read as well as the most discussed philosophical personage of the twentieth century. Moore considered himself “very deficient in moral courage,” though he was always exceedingly tenacious in the defense of any “truth” to which he had committed himself. His mind was critical, cautious in reaching an opinion, but, once he reached it, like a bulldog in his commitment to it. He was well content to stay at home and to stick to his own rather narrow philosophical last, never consciously aspiring to reach a large nonprofessional public or to influence the attitudes of other public men. In point of fact, Moore’s reputation soon spread well beyond the university circles in which he moved. And in a country in which there has always been a rapid circulation of the intellectual elite, the extraordinary purity of Moore’s intellectual passion and his intensely personal way of doing philosophy came to have a great fascination for many cultivated men of letters and affairs who did not in the least profess, in his sense of the term, to be “philosophers.” No less a person than J. M. Keynes has remarked at length upon the “beauty of the literalness of Moore’s mind, the pure and passionate intensity of his vision, unfanciful and undressed up.” And other members of the famous Bloomsbury set, which included the biographer Lytton Strachey, and Leonard Woolf, the husband of Virginia Woolf, were deeply impressed by Moore’s unworldly, unhurried, and dedicated effort to get a really clear idea of what is good, what is just, and what is true. In more senses than one, G. E. Moore was a philosopher’s philosopher, but at least in his own country this proved to be no bar to his saying things that are of consequence to men who have little interest in the abstract technicalities of analytical philosophy.

Moore’s philosophical reputation has two main aspects which, although not unrelated, are not of equal significance. It is true that Moore led Russell in the English revolt against idealism, and it is also true that it is he, rather than Russell, with whom philosophers immediately associate that sturdy, imperturbable, common-sense realism which insists, unequivocally and in the teeth of all dialectical objections, upon the objective reality of ordinary middle-sized material objects. Yet it is not so much his realism as the manner of his defense of it, and still more the concealed implications of that defense, which made him a leading figure in the movement of analytical philosophy in England. By a still more curious paradox, it is not so much Moore’s own controversial and inconclusive analyses of common-sense propositions that have proved most enduring; nor is it his own more characteristic analytical principles that have kept his memory green among more recent analytical philosophers. It is rather his dogged, unwavering certainty of the truth of common-sense ideas about reality and his refusal to be fazed by any sort of dialectical fireworks or by any attempts at sophisticated logical reconstruction of their meaning that ultimately made the profoundest and most enduring impression upon later philosophers, many of whom were professionally far less interested than he in defending the truth of the statement, say, that justice is good and more interested in correctly analyzing it. In short, although Moore is less memorable for his own positive, often highly conventional philosophical theories than for the dogmatic beliefs whose meanings those theories purported to explain, he is also less to be remembered for the beliefs themselves than for the fact that he considered it outlandish and absurd—although perhaps not meaningless—to question their truth. It is here that the pressure of his thought exerted its greatest influence.

About the philosophical truths in which Moore believed, what needs to be said here can be quickly told. As we have intimated, he was a “realist” who accepted without doubt the absolute reality both of the middle-sized objects of ordinary, common-sense discourse and of the conscious minds which apprehend them. Bertrand Russell has amusingly remarked that contemporary psychology has called into question the reality of mind and that contemporary physics has made us wonder whether there is such a thing as matter. Moore, at any rate, had no doubts about the existence of either; he professed only to be very puzzled about the proper analysis of statements about minds and physical objects. Like the early Russell, Moore was also committed to the highly “philosophical,” un-common-sensical belief in the independent reality of the abstract “ideas,” “meanings,” or, as philosophers traditionally call them, “universals.” Moore professed to see no better reason for thinking that (the concept of) whiteness or goodness is merely a construction of the human mind than for supposing that the material objects men call white or good exist only when and insofar as they are perceived. One can distinguish logically between the statements “there is a white object” and “I perceive a white object”; one can also distinguish what is meant in saying that a white object exists from what is meant in saying that someone perceives or is conscious of a white object. Perception and the thing perceived are two things, not one, and the facts which would tend to confirm the fact that I perceive a white object are plainly not logically identical with those which would confirm the fact that a white object exists. Likewise, the meaning of a concept (or proposition) and my awareness of its meaning, my comprehension of whiteness and whiteness itself, are distinct realities. So far as Moore could see, the logical distinction between thought or consciousness and that which thought or consciousness is of applies just as well and just as conclusively to whiteness as to white things and to goodness as to the things that are good. Accordingly he was an unrepentant “realist” on both scores.

It is plain, however, that Moore’s belief in the independent reality of universals implied that, however much he might be committed to the gospel of common sense, and however much he might have disciplined himself to reject as plainly false metaphysical theories that are inconsistent with common sense, he was by no means opposed to metaphysics as such. Nor did he for a moment dream of denying the right of philosophers to affirm the reality of “facts” in which common sense happens to take no interest. In short, it was never a part of Moore’s program to discredit traditional metaphysical and epistemological theories en bloc but only to oppose those which are flatly inconsistent with common sense or in which, independently of common sense, there seem to be no good grounds for belief. Nor did he in the least wish to limit other philosophers to the problems which most interested himself, problems, that is, about the meanings of certain philosophical statements and the validity of certain arguments made in their defense. Moore said, “I do not think that the world or the sciences would ever have suggested to me any philosophical problems. What has suggested philosophical problems is things which other philosophers have said about the world or the sciences.” But he did not suppose that all other philosophers should confine themselves to so limited a regimen. On the contrary, as he tells us quite explicitly in Some Main Problems of Philosophy, “it seems to me that the most important and interesting thing which philosophers have tried to do is no less than this: namely: To give a general description of the whole of the Universe, mentioning all the most important kinds of things which we know to be in it. …” What he objected to were descriptions of reality which are incompatible with what plain men know to be the case about the world in which they live. Nor did Moore think for a moment that moral philosophers should restrict themselves to the study of the meaning of “right” and “good” and of the arguments of other philosophers for supposing that (for example) all goods are pleasures or that nothing is right unless it conduces to the greatest happiness of the greatest number. And in his Principia Ethica, he not only offered certain important views about the meaning of “good,” but also professed, with not the least embarrassment as a philosopher, his belief in a good many ethical principles which, if true, must be of the greatest importance to the conduct of human life.

Another feature of Moore’s philosophy which distinguishes it from the commitments of the proverbial and unreconstructed man of “common sense,” as distinct from his philosophical front runner, is his belief that all knowledge of material objects in some way depends upon our perceptions of certain simple and basic perceptual entities called “sense-data.” As Moore discovered, it is by no means easy to describe sense-data. But for him this much seems clearly true: they are to be distinguished both from universals, like whiteness, and from material objects such as white cows. Rather are they (to pursue the same example) like particular patches of white which, at least in veridical perception, form parts of the “surfaces” of the material objects to which they are ascribed. Moore was never satisfied with his own account of sensedata or of the means of their identification; he was also unclear about the way in which statements about material objects “depend” upon statements about sense-data. Are the former logically reducible to complex statements about the latter? If so how shall we know, in cases of disagreement, whether one proposed reduction or another is correct? Or are the latter merely to be regarded as evidence for the former? If so, then what are the logical rules whereby a statement about a white patch may be taken as evidence for the existence of a white cow? Most important of all, how could Moore maintain that such statements as “this is a hand” may be absolutely certain if they depend, in ways which are very unclear and uncertain, upon statements about sense-data? If we can be sure by inspection that this is a hand, it would seem that we don’t need observations of sense-data to confirm the fact. But if, as the empiricists maintained, we are only certain of the sense-data themselves, then it would seem that “this is a hand” must be viewed as highly uncertain, since at most the sense-data of which we are immediately aware are not the whole hand.

At all events, whether or not there are sense-data, and whatever their relations may be to ordinary statements of material fact, it seems plain that they form no part of the machinery of common-sense thought; nor is the concept of sense-datum a part of our familiar worka-day conceptual apparatus. Unlike such ordinary words as “blue” or “horse,” which (as both Moore and Russell later admitted) are constantly and correctly used by people who have no notion of how to define them, the phrase “sense-datum” has no established usage; it can be intelligibly employed, therefore, only after it has been defined. But this is precisely what Moore and other proponents of the sense-data theory were unable to do successfully. Nor have they since been able to agree with one another about the use of the concept in the structure of empirical knowledge.

One other set of substantive philosophical theses occupy a prominent place in Moore’s philosophy. These belong to the domain of ethics. Here we must distinguish between the purely logical aspect of Moore’s ethical theory, which is largely negative in its implications, and the philosophical conclusions which he allows himself to draw from his logical theses about the meaning of “good.” Now one of the most influential of Moore’s views about the meaning of “good” was his contention that such statements as “this is good” or “this is desirable” are not logically reducible to such other statements as “this is pleasant,” “this is desired,” “this is rational,” or even “this is consistent.” His main argument was quite simple: Of anything which is pleasant, desired, rational, consistent, etc., we can always ask whether it really is good or desirable. And the fact that we can significantly ask such questions plainly shows that “good” and “pleasant” or “desirable” and “desired” cannot mean the same thing. Obviously no one who debates the question whether pleasure alone is good is asking whether these expressions have the same meaning; on the contrary, he assumes to begin with that goodness and pleasure have different meanings, and it is only because of this that he concerns himself about the important substantive question whether all things that are pleasant are also good. In short, the question whether all pleasures are good is a moral question, not a logical question, and this very fact presupposes a difference between the meanings of the two concepts. Moore concluded that goodness is an indefinable notion and that those who attempt to define it are guilty of an error which he dubbed “the naturalistic fallacy.” This fallacy has itself been variously described by Moore. And once more we must face the fact that among philosophers who follow Moore’s general thesis about the logical irreducibility of the concept of goodness, there is no common agreement concerning the precise nature of the error involved in commissions of the naturalistic fallacy. It is significant that Moore did not deny that the word “good” may be synonymous with certain other words; in fact he himself took it for granted that “good” and “desirable” and “valuable” are synonyms. He objected, therefore, only to certain kinds of definitions of good. What kinds? About the most one can say is, definitions that do not include such other ethical terms as “desirable,” “valuable,” etc. But how are we to tell which are the ethical terms from those which are non-ethical? Here, unfortunately, Moore leaves us to our own devices—whereby hangs a lengthy tale to which endless chapters have been written by Moore’s successors.

Let us now turn to Moore’s own philosophical conclusions concerning the meaning of goodness. In the first place, he claimed that there is an objective quality of goodness, wholly distinct from the things we call good, and independent of any feelings, sentiments, or opinions we may have about it or them. Here again we encounter Moore’s ontological commitment to the irreducible reality of abstract entities or universals. Secondly, he also concluded that since the concept cannot be defined “naturalistically,” i.e., in terms of pleasure, desire, etc. (how shall we fill out the “etc.”?) it must be assumed to be an absolutely unique, simple, and “nonnatural” quality, whose instances cannot be apprehended through sense perception. There are, that is to say, no moral “sense-data” which are perceptual parts of the material objects on which ethical terms are predicated.

One further feature of Moore’s moral theory requires mention here, not only for its own intrinsic interest, but for the light that it sheds upon his more general views about the nature of human knowledge and the range of philosophical reflection. From what has hitherto been said, it is evident that Moore is committed to the view that there are certain simple concepts, such as goodness, whose distinctive meaning is given by a form of nonsensuous intuition. However, it is entirely possible that, as a good anti-Hegelian pluralist, he might have held that the relations holding between goodness and all “natural” characteristics are external and that the things that are in fact good might share no other characteristic in common. And indeed, it is a cardinal thesis of his ethics that it would be a radical mistake to infer that just because, as it turns out, all intrinsically good things are, say, agreeable to behold, there is any logical connection between “being agreeable to behold” and “being good.” Now some of Moore’s critics, who have not carefully read beyond the first chapters of Principia Ethica, do apparently believe that for Moore all general propositions in ethics, like all (or most) general propositions about material objects, are merely contingent. They are mistaken.

Now so far as statements about material objects are concerned, Moore claims only to know with certainty the truth of such singular statements as “This is a hand” and “That is a tree.” He does not appear to have believed that such general statements about material objects as “All swans are white” can be known with absolute certainty to be true. Outside of ethics, the only general propositions which he appears to have regarded as absolutely certain are the truths of logic and such “analytic truths” as “All brothers are male siblings.” He also claims, even within ethics, that “All moral laws . . . are merely statements that certain kinds of actions will have good effects,” and hence that “Not a single question in practical Ethics can be answered except by a causal generalisation.” (p. 146) Hence, although causal generalizations do not as such suffice to establish even the probability of any moral law (since the question whether certain effects of our actions are good is not itself a causal generalization but an ethical judgment), all knowledge of what is right or wrong depends upon them. In a very important respect, then, all moral laws are contingent truths, the certainty of which is merely probable.

However, although all moral laws which aim to tell us what is right and wrong in the domain of conduct cannot be known for certain to be true, moral laws do not exhaust the universe of general ethical truths or principles. Ethical principles, on the other hand, do not purport to tell us what sorts of actions will have the best effects in the long run, but, rather, what sorts of things are intrinsically good in themselves. And in this sphere, Moore does believe that there are certain fundamental principles of ethics which “must be self-evident.” These principles, unlike “all brothers are male-siblings,” are not analytic, since they do not tell us anything we could infer merely from an analysis of the meaning of “all (intrinsically) good things.” As we have seen, goodness is a simple, unanalyzable quality. Hence any ethical principle, such as the principle of hedonism, which asserts that all good things are pleasures or objects of desire must be, in terms that Moore borrows from Kant, “synthetic”; that is to say, it asserts a relation between good things and, say, pleasant things whose truth is not entailed by any conjunction of those (analytic) truths which tell us what “good” means and what “pleasant” means.

Moore himself of course rejects the view that pleasure alone is good. He also rejects the view that certain types of action such as truth-telling or promise-keeping are intrinsically good. But after a great deal of reflection and analysis, the details of which cannot be recounted here, he finally concludes that although there is perhaps no one sort of thing which alone is intrinsically good, there are two sorts of things which are indubitably so, namely, “the pleasures of human intercourse and the enjoyment of beautiful objects.” And, “it is only for the sake of these things-that anyone can be justified in performing any public or private duty; . . . they are the raison d’etre of virtue; . . . it is they … that form the rational ultimate end of human action and the sole criterion of social progress. . . .”

There are a number of important conclusions to be drawn from these remarks. In the first place, unlike Hume and (later) the logical positivists, Moore does not believe that all non-analytic general truths are uncertain; nor does he believe that all non-analytic (or synthetic) truths are empirical hypotheses about observable matters of fact. There are, for him, some general synthetic truths, principally ethical, which are self-evident. In the second place, he also believes that through philosophical analysis and reflection, we may come to know that certain synthetic truths which have been alleged to be self-evident are not so, and that certain others are so. Thirdly, it follows that for Moore philosophical analysis has a dual function: (a) to clarify concepts and propositions, and (b) to establish certain general principles of knowledge, value, and metaphysics, the validity of which cannot be ascertained by either pure logic alone or by natural or empirical science alone. Thus, like the classical rationalists before him, Moore still assigns to philosophy a positive constructive role beyond its purely explicative function, a role which has as its proper end the knowledge of substantive truth about reality. And the fact that Moore himself did not get very far in his efforts as a constructive philosopher was owing, from his own point of view, merely to his intellectual limitations.

These all too sketchy remarks markedly fail to account for the enormous influence of G. E. Moore upon the subsequent course of twentieth-century philosophy. As we shall see presently, the fact is that Moore’s influence was, in certain respects, merely a by-product of his own philosophical investigations. He was interested more in questions of truth than in questions of meaning, or, better, he was, at least in the beginning, interested in questions of meaning only because in certain important cases, such as ethics, we cannot hope to know whether propositions are true unless we have a clear idea of what it is that they assert. (Later, Moore, like Russell, became convinced that our knowledge of the truth of most, if not all, statements in no way depends upon our being able to begin with to state exactly what they mean.) Yet his influence has been to direct the energies of his successors, some of whom suffered not at all from his own acknowledged limitations of interest and ability, away from questions of truth to questions of meaning. And some of his spiritual heirs, certainly, have converted those limitations into a kind of philosophical manifesto or principle: philosophy, according to them, is to concern itself solely with problems of analysis, leaving to science the task of describing reality, and to ethics the task of prescribing what we ought to do. From their point of view, a philosophical problem, by definition, is a problem of meaning and logic, and those who attempt by philosophical argument to establish truths either about what exists or about what ought to exist are merely confused. Such, as we have seen, was by no means Moore’s own view. Moreover, although Moore was passionately interested in the defense of the truths of common sense against philosophical skeptics and uncommon-sensical metaphysicians, he never claimed that the ordinary language of common-sense discourse is the one and only correct language. He himself resorted unconsciously to philosophical jargon both in his epistemological discussions of sense-data and in his moral philosophy where he talks in a very extraordinary way about goodness as a non-natural quality. But, again, some of Moore’s philosophical heirs have considered that the half-concealed philosophical pearl in his defense of common-sense truth is, rather, his implicit defense of the correctness of the familiar language in which those truths are expressed. And his prestige, which at present is higher in many quarters than that of Russell, is largely owing to this implication of his thought. Finally, although Moore himself held very conventional and highly questionable views about the nature of meaning and of analysis (in this respect he seems notably to have failed as a philosopher’s philosopher), he was somehow a profound stimulus to others for whom these questions have become peremptory. And in fact it was in part owing to their efforts to overcome some of the difficulties in which Moore’s working opinions about meaning and analysis landed him, both in ethics and in the theory of knowledge, that his successors were gradually led to a revolutionary philosophy of language and to a radically different conception of analysis which would in the end undercut a very large part of Moore’s own results. But this story cannot be told until we have said something about the man whom Santayana called the “Francis Bacon” of twentieth-century philosophy, Bertrand Russell.


As we have observed, Russell was Moore’s senior by two years. He was born in 1872, and (at the present writing) is the only philosopher with whom we have had to do so far in this volume who is still extant. “Extant” is hardly the word; like Dewey, whom he resembles in only two major respects, Russell has been philosophically creative throughout his entire adult life, and is, at the present time, actively engaged in a very lively philosophical vendetta against the later philosophy of his one-time pupil, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and of Wittgenstein’s philosophical heirs and assigns. The other respect in which Russell resembles Dewey is in his active concern with public affairs and with problems of education. Unlike Dewey, however, Russell does not regard these interests as part of his work as a philosopher. And, as we shall see, this fact is of great philosophical importance in its own right. Russell came by his interests in public affairs naturally. His grandfather, Lord John Russell, introduced the famous Reform Bill of 1832 which started England on the road toward full democracy; he was also Prime Minister of England during the Mexican War and the revolutions of 1848. As Bertrand Russell remarks, with touching pride, “In common with the whole Russell family, he [Lord John] inherited the peculiar brand of aristocratic liberalism which characterized the Revolution of 1688 in which his ancestor played an important part.” Bertrand, whose parents died before he could remember, was brought up by his grandparents, and was in consequence “taught a kind of theoretic republicanism which was prepared to tolerate a monarch so long as he recognized that he was an employee of the people and subject to dismissal if he proved unsatisfactory.” But it was John Stuart Mill, his godfather, “so far as it is possible in a non-religious sense,” who had the first important influence upon his philosophical thought, and it was from Mill that he acquired that passion for liberty and for the methods of empirical science which are among his most salient and enduring characteristics. Later, he came to believe that “Mill deserved the eminence which he enjoyed in his own day, not by his intellect but by his intellectual virtues.” And in certain important respects, which will be mentioned presently, his own philosophy differs radically from Mill’s. It is also true that for a time, after he went “up” to Cambridge, he fell under the influence of Hegel, whose works Mill himself could not read without feeling slightly “nauseated.” But the influence of Hegel, in Russell’s case, was passing and superficial, and the underlying philosophical attitudes which he imbibed from his reading of Mill have remained with him throughout his long and eventful life.

Although Russell himself makes the sharpest possible distinction between philosophical knowledge and what may be called philosophical temperament, and between the evidence for a philosophical belief and the psychological or moral reasons which may lead a particular philosopher to espouse such a belief, there can be little doubt that Russell’s own peculiar temperament had a great deal to do with his development as a philosopher. For one thing, Russell’s extraordinary, almost Shelleyean, idealism (which has nothing directly to do with the technical arguments for the thesis that mind is the fundamental reality) has made him especially susceptible to any motives, whether in the domain of philosophy or logic or ethics, which are “pure,” that is, which are uncontaminated by vulgar pragmatic interests in “success” or “adjustment” or “comfort.” The Fichtean notion that a man should adopt a philosophy conformable to the “kind of man he is” seemed to him utterly repulsive—just because he was (and is) a man for whom it would be dishonorable to adopt a belief because it accorded with the demands of his own temperament or personality. Russell plainly learned much and agreed with much in the later philosophy of William James. What he could never stomach, either in the writings of James or, later, of Dewey, was the idea that personal feeling or satisfaction could have anything whatever to do with the truth of any philosophical doctrine. Yet it is clearly true, from his own statements, that although he did not reject the philosophy of Hegel and Bradley until he had convinced himself that it is logically untenable, he felt an enormous personal satisfaction when, following Moore, he was able to see through the Hegelian and Bradleyan dialectic. As he says, Moore “took the lead in rebellion and I followed, with a sense of emancipation. Bradley argued that everything common sense believes is mere appearance; we reverted to the opposite extreme, and thought that everything is real that common sense, uninfluenced by philosophy or theology, supposes real. With a sense of escaping from prison, we allowed ourselves to think that grass is green, that the sun and stars would exist if no one was aware of them, and also that there is a pluralistic timeless world of Platonic ideas. The world, which had been thin and logical, suddenly became rich and varied and solid. Mathematics could be quite true, and not merely a stage in dialectic.” Elsewhere he adds, “For some years after throwing over Hegel I had an optimistic riot of opposite beliefs. I thought that whatever Hegel had denied must be true. … I took the view that, whenever Hegel’s proof that something does not exist is invalid, one may assume that the something in question does exist—at any rate when that assumption is convenient to the mathematician. Pythagoras and Plato had let their views of the universe be shaped by mathematics, and I followed them gaily.” And for a time, in effect, the study of mathematics and logic became, for Russell, the great avenue to absolute, philosophic truth, and the world which he presumed to be depicted by logic and mathematics became the object which, as a pure lover of truth, he could delight to contemplate and in whose inconsequential contemplation he could find—as Moore had argued—an example of an unsullied, intrinsic goodness.

As it turned out, however, Russell’s own passion for mathematics was less pure than he had supposed. Like Plato, he had believed that mathematics (and the formal symbolic logic which he and Whitehead had shown to provide its logical foundation) truly describes a world of absolute intellectual realities which can be known by pure reason alone. Subsequently, owing to the influence of Wittgenstein, he was convinced that logic and mathematics as purely formal disciplines can tell us nothing whatever about reality, and that its world, although in its own domain delightful, “is the domain of imagination.” And owing to the influence of Whitehead, “who was the serpent in this paradise of Mediterranean clarity,” he at least became convinced that the exactitude to which the pure mathematician aspires can be approached, but never realized in the decidedly unideal world of material objects. And gradually he came to think not only that there is nothing in reality which corresponds to the perfect circles and exact yards of the mathematician, but that indeed “the phrase ‘exactly a yard’ had no definite meaning.” As he significantly goes on to say, “Exactness, in fact, was a Hellenic myth which Plato located in Heaven. He was right in thinking it can find no home on earth. To my mathematical soul, which is attuned by nature to the visions of Pythagoras and Plato, this is a sorrow. I try to console myself with the knowledge that mathematics is still the necessary implement for the manipulation of nature.” But it is an instrument which has the effectiveness and crudity of a “battle-ax.” Pure mathematics, he came to think, “must live with music and poetry in the region of man-made beauty, not amid the dust and grime of the world.” Its truth, though perfect, has nothing to do with existence. Applied mathematics, on the other hand, is a superb device and in fact essential for making battleships and bombs; but it is, for all that, merely a device which can be used, according to the predilections of its user, either for good purposes or evil. As such, it has neither the intricacy or elegance which, for a subtle mind, are necessary to the intrinsic values of aesthetic contemplation, nor the substantial virtues of knowledge about the real world. And once he had become convinced that mathematical logic could contribute nothing to our knowledge of reality, it lost its appeal for him, and after the First World War, he abandoned it for other philosophical and non-philosophical subjects in whose importance, either as contributions to knowledge or as sources of human betterment, he could still believe.

Russell’s mature philosophy is not easily summarized. It must be emphasized that he prided him self on his ability to change his mind, and that, at least on matters of comparative detail, he did change his mind many times. The following remarks, therefore, merely indicate the drift of some of the less mutable aspects of his teaching. To begin with, it can perhaps be said that in part Russell’s philosophy is an amalgam of (a) Moore’s passion for clarity, his realism, and his commitment to the thesis that the aim of philosophy itself is not “adjustment” but truth, (b) William James’s later metaphysical pluralism, his radical empiricism, and his doctrine that the material world described by physics and the mental world described by psychology are merely different descriptions of the same “neutral” world of “pure experience,” and (c) his own faith, which is the result of his work in formal logic, in

the virtue of the method of “logical reconstruction,” by means of which the truths both of common sense and of developing empirical science may be systematically recast in the notation of a “logically perfect language” which, for the first time, enables us to know precisely what we ‘ire saying and whether what we are saying may be true.

Russell differs from Moore primarily in his logician’s contempt for ordinary language as a vehicle of truth, in his readiness to abandon common sense whenever science or “scientific philosophy” seems to require it, and in his firm conviction that there is no irreducible metaphysical difference of kind between material objects and the minds that are sometimes conscious of them, but only a difference in the way psychological theories and physical theories select and group the neutral raw material disclosed in experience. Both minds and material objects are, according to Russell, to be considered as groups of events or a series of such groups. Perhaps most important of all Russell differs from Moore in regard to the nature and purpose of philosophical analysis, but of this more presently.

Russell’s main difference from James has two related aspects, one of them concerning the nature of truth, the other concerning the function of philosophy. Russell wholly disapproves of the Jamesian thesis that “the ‘true’ is only the expedient in the way of our thinking. . . .” More profoundly, he disapproves of a conception of truth which assimilates its meaning to that of goodness. Such an assimilation, he appears to think, would blur the distinction between the factual descriptions of science whose truth or falsity are wholly independent of our human aspirations and interests and the non-factual prescriptions of ethics which, in later years, be regarded as merely expressions of attitude and emotion. He argued, moreover, that the Jamesian theory is fundamentally incoherent, for, according to Russell, it holds that our estimate of the truth of any belief is in effect as estimation of the worth of its consequences; but this judgment itself is presumably either true or false; according to the theory, however, it follows that if we assert that this judgment is true we are once again merely asserting that it has good consequences, and so on ad infinitum. “Obviously,” says Russell, “this won’t do.” And so it won’t. Russell himself has steadfastly insisted, in opposition to the pragmatists, that truth is an objective or “real” relation, like fatherhood or similarity. In fact he has added very little that is new to the traditional realist view according to which truth is, as some philosophers put it, a “semantical” relation holding between sentences and “facts.” When that relation—let us call it “correspondence”—holds, a sentence is true, and when not, false. In a way, Russell’s conception of truth is thus a bit like Moore’s conception of goodness. That is to say, just as Moore believed that the word “good” designates an independent and objective quality of objects, so Russell believes that the word “true” designates an independent and objective relation which, in this case, holds between certain linguistic enlities called “sentences” and other entities (linguistic or otherwise) which the sentences are said to be “about.”
Now just as the early Russell had followed Moore’s lead in their revolt against idealism, so he followed Moore’s lead in ethics. That is, he agreed with Moore not only that goodness is indefinable, but also that the word “good” designates an objective, if also unanalyzable, quality. Consequently, like Moore he accepted without question the possibility of an objective science of ethics whose basic principles truly describe certain peculiar and “non-natural” facts about the world. Subsequently, owing in part to the criticisms of Santayana, he abandoned Moore’s positive views about the nature of goodness, and in the end came to the conclusion, which had been most forcefully stated by the logical positivists, namely, that such words as “good” and “bad” do not designate anything at all, and that sentences containing them are not statements of fact of any sort but merely expressions of our attitudes and emotions. As such, he concluded, they cannot be either true or false. Hence any hope of a science of ethics is completely illusory. What is of interest here, however, is not so much Russell’s theories of ethics which, late as well as early, are completely unoriginal, but rather the light which they shed upon his conception of philosophy. So long as Russell could persuade himself that ethical judgments are true or false statements about an independently existing reality and so long therefore as he could persuade himself that an objective science of ethics is possible, he accepted without question the propriety of viewing ethics, and not merely the logical analysis of ethical terms and judgments, as a philosophical subject. Briefly, the knowledge of objective truth is the sole concern of philosophy; certain ethical principles are a part of that knowledge; ergo, ethical principles are a proper part of the concern of philosophy. However, once he was persuaded that ethical terms refer to nothing at all and that ethical principles cannot be a part of the objective truth about the world as he conceived it, he forthwith decided that ethics is not a part of philosophy at all, and that when philosophers elect to moralize, they must do so on their own time.
Of course, Russell, who had more time at his disposal than most philosophers and had many passionate interests outside of philosophy, did not allow this philosophical disillusionment about the status of ethics to prevent him from doing a great deal of moralizing. Nor was there anything inconsistent in his practice. It did mean, however, that so far as Russell himself was concerned one whole subject, which had been traditionally assigned to philosophy and which, indeed, many philosophers had regarded as the fundamental philosophical subject, was now completely lost to philosophy. And this in part explains why in philosophical quarters where Russell’s influence has been greatest, interest in ethical questions has almost wholly disappeared. It also suggests how widely divergent were the view of the English philoso­phers whom we are considering and those of their American contemporaries about the fundamental role of philosophy. Briefly, the philosophical aim of the pragmatists was, in the broadest sense, moral: what they sought was wisdom in the conduct of life, and they viewed the philosophical analysis of concepts and methods as ancillary to that end. To this extent they may be viewed as sons of Socrates and as cousins by marriage of the idealists. The English philosophers, on the contrary, tended to think of themselves primarily as logicians and as (in a broad sense) scientists whose only philosophical concern is knowledge of reality and the clarification of the concepts and propositions through which that knowledge is articulated. There was no place in their scheme of philosophical inquiry for any investigations which do not, directly or indirectly, result in public knowledge of the world. And when, as in the case of Russell, they came to the conclusion that some subject, whether it be ethics or politics or metaphysics or theology, does not afford such knowledge, they forthwith abandoned it to the moralists, Lhe statesmen, the poets, and the theologians.
As we shall observe, the history of English philosophy in the twentieth century is, in large part, a history of the gradual attrition of the scope of philosophical inquiry. In Moore’s case, ethics and metaphysics remained philosophical subjects par excellence, and though he himself had little to say either about political or theological questions, he did not deny them a rightful place in the philosophical curriculum. In Russell’s case, ethics was cast into the outer darkness. He continued to lake metaphysics and even theology seriously, but only because he remained convinced that there is such a thing as objective metaphysical ;ind theological truth. And his well-known atheism, for example, was regarded by him as an objective scientific hypothesis about the independent world of fact. It should be added that Russell did not object to religious feeling, so long as it does not interfere with the pursuit of philosophical and scientific truth andd so long as it is not wedded to theological creeds which dispose us to believe what is not true. In fact, his own moving essay, A Free Man’s Worship, is evidence of his pro­found religious humility and piety toward the world of nature, and Many passages in his works testify to his quasi-religious veneration of h rul h and of the ideals of human brotherhood and peace.
It remains for us to say a few words about what, in professional philosophical circles, has been perhaps the most influential and most conitroversial feature of his philosophy, namely, his own conception of philosophical analysis itself. It should be said, to begin with, that although Russell has had a great deal to say about meaning and language, uh of what is important and interesting, his underlying conceptions of meaning and of the functions of language, like his conception of truth, are not only not revolutionary, but in fact involve a reversion to an older and more conservative tradition which antedates not only pragmatism and idealism, but, in certain respects also, even Berkeley and Hume. As Russell succinctly puts it, “Words have two functions: on the one hand to state facts, and the other to evoke emotions.” It is, of course, important for the philosopher to acknowledge the existence of these two functions, and, in practice, not to confuse them. Much time has been wasted by philosophers, for example, in ethics, owing to the mistaken apprehension that they are investigating the truth of certain factual statements when, at best, they are merely trying to decide how they feel about certain matters or to persuade others to feel about things as they do. However, since the fundamental interest of the philosopher is knowledge of the objective world, and the statements which express that knowledge, the role of language and the modes of “meaning” which are of primary concern to him are those which are involved in stating, or trying to state, facts. Two main sorts of words are essential for any sort of factual discourse: (a) “object words” such as “John,” “rat,” “blue,” and “run,” whose meanings are learned either by confrontation with objects which are what they mean, or instances of what they mean,” and (b) “logical words” such as “all,” “some,” “if,” “or,” and “not,” which, unlike object words, have no meaning in isolation and do not designate objects in the world of empirical perception. A little child first learns and for a time gets along with nothing but object words. However, there can be no science, and especially no exact or mathematical science, without sentences and groups of sentences involving the use of logical words. Thus any attempt on the part of the philosopher to clarify the language of exact science requires definitions, ostensive or otherwise, of its object terms as well as of its logical words. Concerning the latter, Russell believed that a large part of the work had been done by Whitehead and himself in their monumental work Principia Mathematica in which, or so it was claimed, all of pure mathematics and logic were formally derived from a few “primitive” principles or axioms involving the use of no object words (in their place were employed “variables” which are not words, but as it were, empty forms for which words may be substituted) and only three undefined logical words, “all,” “some,” and “neither-nor.” Originally, Russell believed that even these basic logic words must signify something, and as he says, “I tried to believe that in some logicians’ limbo there are things that these words mean, and that perhaps virtuous logicians may meet them hereafter in a more logical cosmos.” Later he toyed with the idea (which would have been abhorrent to the early Russell or to Moore) that logical words “correspond,” even if they do not designate, to broadly empirical facts. Thus, in his An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth, he suggested that the logical word corresponds to the psychological state of “hesitation” preceding choice. Yet he remained, characteristically, very tentative about such a thesis, and he seems still to think that whatever the correct analysis of the meanings of basic logic words may be, they must, if they are to have a legitimate use in scientific discourse, refer to something empirical or otherwise.

Russell’s practice in regard to the meanings of logical terms was applied also, very brilliantly, to object terms. In both spheres, it was his aim as an analyst to construct, or to suggest the way toward a construetion of, an impeccably clear and precise language of science, from which every element of “emotive” or non-referential and non-logical meaning has been eliminated, and which includes no words, such as “all” and “or,” which are not absolutely essential to the mathematical formulation and transformation of empirically verifiable theories, and no non-logical object words which do not signify something whose instances at least can be directly observed. However, the word “construction” is important here, and in suggesting what Russell had in mind by his doctrine of “logical construction” we may also make clear the differences between his conception of analysis and that of Moore, as well as their differences in regard to the logical status of commonsense ideas.

Now Moore seems to have thought that the aim of philosophical analysis is primarily to provide definitions of words already in use which may be regarded as substitute synonyms for them. Yet, at least in the case of complex ideas, an illuminating definition, for Moore, does not merely provide another single term which is synonymous with the term to be defined, but rather a phrase in which all of the simple “parts” of the idea (if it has parts) are clearly set forth. Thus it is not illuminating to say that “good” means the same thing as “desirable,” for although “good” and “desirable” signify the same thing, the definition does not, as it stands, enable us to distinguish what, if anything, either term designates, whether what it designates is simple or complex, and if it is complex, what are the simple elements which compose its meaning. A somewhat better example of Moore’s conception of an illuminating logical analysis is the standard chestnut, “All brothers are male siblings.” This statement is analytic, since (presumably) the terms “brother” and “male sibling” have the same meaning and are substitutable for one another in any sentence without altering its truth value. Yet “male sibling” provides an analysis of the meaning of “brother” in a way that “desirable” does not in the case of “good.” In short, “male sibling” exhibits the simpler constituent parts of which the meaning of “brother” is composed, thereby providing a clearer idea of what it is to be a brother3always providing we already know how to identify males and siblings. For Moore, a thoroughly satisfactory analysis, which the preceding example presumably is not, would leave us with a definition in which its parts are irreducible, that is, in which each constituent term stands for a wholly distinct concept which is itself incapable of further “analysis.”

Russell, on the other hand, was not greatly interested in the definitions of isolated common-sense terms. Nor was he much bothered when it was pointed out that some of his own definitions did not provide exact synonyms of their definiens, as these are used in ordinary discourse. For example, he was quite unimpressed by the fact that his own definition of implication in Principia Mathematica, according to which statements of the form “P implies Q” are true just in case P is false or Q is true, permit us to say that The moon is made of green cheese implies that Eisenhower is a Republican on the condition that it is false that the moon is made of green cheese or it is true that Eisenhower is a Republican. Moore himself considered Russell’s definition as an enormous “howler” which was quite out of accord with the common-sense meaning of “implies.” But Russell remained unperturbed, since his definition, in addition to being completely clear (as presumably the ordinary sense of the term is not), appeared to handle systematically and concisely all purely mathematical cases of implication. In short, Russell was not so much interested in defining “implication” as in redefining it in such a way as to simplify, unify, and hence clarify a whole body of hitherto relatively disorganized and unclear scientific thought. For him, a good definition is not a faithful translation of current usage, which itself is always in process of change. but a device for abbreviating and economizing the symbolic machinery by means of which, in science and in mathematics, men seek to understand and to explain the world.

It is for a similar reason that instead of redefining a term which still serves a useful purpose in scientific inquiry, Russell often merely abandons the traditonal concepts of common sense altogethar in favor of others which, in his opinion, are scientifically and logically more useful and perspicuous. In his view the common-sense notion of a material substance, embodying as it does the outmoded and confused metaphysics of the ancient Greeks, is incapable of a clear logical reconstruction. Instead, therefore, he proposes to talk only about events and processes. Again, the notion of causality, which involves the notion of separate substantial entities standing to one another in relations of cause and effect, has lost its usefulness in exact science where all laws of nature are expressed in terms of differential equations that describe continuous rates of change.

In brief, Russell conceives of philosophical analysis or reconstruction as an indispensable part of the enterprise of scientific knowledge of the world. Its aim is not to provide a more detailed dictionary of common usages, many of which are unclear and hence incapable of exact definition, but to enable the philosopher-scientist better to comprehend the external physical universe of which he himself is an integral part. But analysis itself is continuous with scientific inquiry, and there is no reason for the philosopher to submit to a pointless division of labor which assigns to him the purely analytical role of clarifying ideas and to the scientist the substantive, synthetic role of discovering and explaining what is true. For analysis apart from factual inquiry is pointless, and inquiry which is uncertain of the meanings of its concepts and operations is confused.


At the present time in England, by all odds the most influential of contemporary philosophers is Ludwig Wittgenstein. During the last decade, his influence has been increasingly felt throughout the English-speaking world, including the United States. Wittgenstein is one of the most controversial figures in modern philosophy. Some of his disciplesand it is a significant fact about him that he has disciples in something like the literal sense of the word-regard him as a kind of philosophical messiah. On the other hand, his critics, who are many, deplore his strange charismatic power and regard him, at least in his later phase (like Beethoven, Wittgenstein had a number of radically different “styles”) as the great traducer and trivializer of modern philosophy. Whichever view one takes of him, he cannot be ignored, and even his bitterest opponents must concede that he is a thinker of great originality and power.

Wittgenstein was born in 1889 in Vienna, the youngest child of a cultivated and well-to-do family, all of the members of which were highly endowed intellectually or musically. Wittgenstein’s brother Paul, who lost an arm during the First World War, is the distinguished pianist for whom the composer Ravel wrote his famous piano concerto for the left hand. Wittgenstein himself was also very musical and, like William James, naturally gifted in the plastic arts. His writings also display a remarkable literary purity and elegance, and there can be no doubt that, like Russell at his best, Wittgenstein deserves to be read, if for no other reason then as a master of prose. As a person, Wittgenstein displayed throughout his life a selflessness in all matters of personal preferment and a complete indifference to worldly success or material gain. Upon his father’s death in 1912, he inherited a large fortune, which he gave away, and thenceforth he lived with utmost frugality and simplicity. It appears that he was deeply impressed by the ethical and religious writings of Leo Tolstoy, whose ideals he evidently sought to emulate in his own conduct. Wittgenstein shunned publicity of any sort. Yet his friends testify to his openness and directness in all personal relations. But he was also a difficult and demanding friend, and the stories are legend of his misunderstandings and eventual breaks with people who did not measure up to his own high standards of excellence. G. H. von Wright states in his “Biographical Sketch” that “It is probably true that he lived on the border of mental illness. A fear of being driven across it followed him throughout his life.”1 Von Wright denies, however, that there was anything morbid about his work, and he contends that “It is deeply original but not at all eccentric.” It was original no doubt; but that it was uneccentric not all philosophers will agree. Like Peirce, with whom he displays certain other intellectual affinities, Wittgenstein never managed to expound his ideas in a finished systematic form. He did not write treatises, but, as it were, maps of treatises. In later life, his manuscripts, like the later writings of Nietzsche, were series of brilliant paragraphs between which it is not always easy for an informed reader to discern any connection. However, this may well be regarded as an ingrained quality of Wittgenstein’s thought itself, and any attempt on the part of his followers to reduce his “investigations” and “remarks” to systematic form should be viewed with utmost suspicion.

Like Joseph Conrad, Wittgenstein as a writer belongs essentially to England, even though, unlike Conrad, he wrote primarily in his native language. The first major influence upon his philosophical thought was Bertrand Russell, and it was through the study of the “new” mathematical logic of Russell, Whitehead, and the German mathematician Frege that Wittgenstein made his entrance into philosophy. Between 1911 and 1913, he went to Cambridge University where he was enrolled first as an undergraduate and later as an “advanced student.” He was soon on intimate terms with Russell, who subsequently testified that “Getting to know Wittgenstein was one of the most exciting intellectual adventures of my life.” In Cambridge he also saw a good deal of Moore and Whitehead. In 1929, he eventually obtained a Ph.D. from Cambridge and in the following year became a Fellow of Trinity College. In 1937, he succeeded Moore as Professor of Philosophy at Cambridge, but in 1947, he resigned his chair, in order to devote all of his time to his own work. In 1949, shortly before his death, Wittgenstein went to the United States for a visit with his friend and former student, Norman Malcolm, whose affecting work, Ludwig Wittgenstein, A Memoir, provides us with some of the most illuminating glimpses of Wittgenstein’s unique and enigmatic character. Wittgenstein died in 1951. Few men have cared less for public acclaim, yet few philosophers in our century are likely to have a fame that is more enduring.

Wittgenstein’s philosophical career has at least two distinct phases. During the first phase, when he was closely associated with Russell, he wrote his first work, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, which provided one of the principal sources of the movement which was later known as “logical positivism.” During the second, in which Wittgenstein largely rejected the ideas embodied in the Tractatus, he published almost nothing, but through his teaching and through informal writings which, in typescript, were widely circulated and much discussed, he prepared the way for the so-called “philosophy of ordinary language” which, at present, dominates English philosophy. His posthumously published Philosophical Investigations and Remarks on the foundations of Mathematics, as well as of the earlier, preparatory “Blue Book” and “Brown Book” (as they are now known) confirm the impression conveyed by

his own students that in his later years Wittgenstein was groping toward a point of view which, so far as analytical philosophy is concerned, is in most respects antithetical to that of Russell and the logical positivists and in which Americans, at any rate, may discern a deep affinity with certain aspects of pragmatism. It should be added that, like most charismatic teachers, Wittgenstein was often obliged to repudiate the results of his own influence, and it is by no means clear that he would have sympathized with all of the trends in the recent philosophy of ordinary language that are associated with his name.

In order to give even a casual impression of Wittgenstein’s later thought, it is necessary to say something about the Tractatus, a work which offers, with some differences, the most radical restatement of some of Russell’s most influential theories. In the first place, Wittgenstein developed in that work the clearest formulation of the Russellian notion that the world, as it would be described by a perfectly lucid and logically immaculate language of science, is composed of elementary “logical atoms” which constitute the irreducible and simple elements of what there is. “The world,” he said in the gnomic sentences which comprise the Tractatus “is everything that is the case.” But the world also “divides into facts,” any one of which can “either be the case or not be the case, and everything else remain the same.” (Shades of both Russell and Moore.) “What is the case, the fact, is the existence of atomic facts,” and “An atomic fact is a combination of objects (entities, things),” and “The configuration of objects forms an atomic fact.” Any “object” which can enter into a “configuration,” and which is not itself a configuration, must be an unanalyzable and simple “entity.” The basis of any true and perspicuous science must be statements which describe atomic facts, that is, configurations of things that are themselves absolutely simple. Such statements, moreover, are themselves logical “pictures” of atomic facts, and from an analysis of their essential forms, one can gain, as it were, a logical photograph of the elementary atomic structure of the real world. In short, an analysis of the basic forms of a proper scientific language, automatically provides a kind of mirror of the fundamental structure of reality itself. Of course, no general science, as it stands, is concerned with the description or picturing of particular atomic facts. But at this time it was still Wittgenstein’s belief that all general scientific truths are nothing but logical compounds of true atomic propositions, that is, again, propositions which picture basic atomic facts.

There are several important aspects of this view which remain to be observed.

In the first place, the primary business of language is to assert or deny facts. For this purpose, ordinary natural languages are radically defective. Their terms are incurably vague, often ambiguous, frequently redundant. They provide no clear rules for the reduction of complex concepts to their simple components; in many cases, in fact, it is impossible to determine whether they are logically irreducible or not. Similarly, it is also impossible to decide whether statements in ordinary languages are statements of atomic facts and, when they are not, to determine what conjunctions of atomic propositions they might be reduced to. It is for these reasons, among others, that ordinary languages present us with so many imponderable problems of meaning and implication, and it is for these reasons, and perhaps for them alone, that philosophical problems of analysis exist. If we had a logically perfect language, such as Russell aspired to and as he and Whitehead approximated at the purely formal level in Principia Mathematica, all such problems would disappear, or if they arose, could be settled more or less mechanically. Such a language would establish a clear boundary line between sense and nonsense by a clear and explicit statement both of the conditions for the uniqueness, simplicity, and reference of all referential terms in the language and of the logical conditions of their combination and recombination in sentences. In short, an ideal language would resemble a calculus whose logic or syntax is absolutely explicit and whose basic terms are quite clear, simple, and unambiguous. The only question which Wittgenstein seemed not to have settled in the Tractatus is the question of establishing the precise conditions for determining the uniqueness, simplicity and meaningfulness of terms of reference. But in that case how can we know for certain, even in an ostensibly perfect language, whether statements actually do describe facts or whether the facts which they purport to describe are truly atomic. Thus, even if we had an absolutely perfect logic for determining the truth values of complex statements, this would not help us in the least to know whether such statements really are meaningful and true, unless we could determine independently, whether their supposedly atomic components are also meaningful and true. Mathematical logic is a purely formal discipline, which itself tells us nothing at all about the world; what it tells us is merely what we can infer from statements whose truth or falsity is already known. It is thus of no help whatever to know how to determine the truth values of combinations of atomic propositions so long as the truth values and the meanings of the latter remain indeterminate. The great advantage of an ideal language, if there were such a thing, is that it would enable us to resolve all so-called analytical questions mechanically by an appeal to the “formation” and “transformation” rules of the language. It would, to that extent, eliminate the need for philosophy, at least in its analytical role. The problem, however, is to construct such a language and to make it work.

Meanwhile, of course, there would still remain the problem of deciding what in the world we are saying and doing when we employ ordinary languages. And, to the extent that the basic verbal directions for the employment of an ideal language have to be given, somehow, in the terms of ordinary languages, there would also remain in practice the problem of cutting the umbilical cord between the ideal and perfect language of science from its natural and imperfect parent. Here, it seems, even the most ideal or perfect of languages runs into the problem of “original sin.” There remained in any case many problems which, for a critical and honest reader, the Tractatus had left unsolved. Some of his followers, including the logical positivists, sought to answer these questions by an improvement of Wittgenstein’s own recipes for the construction of logically proper languages; others, including Wittgenstein himself, gradually came to see that the problems were insuperable, and they forthwith renounced the whole enterprise of the Tractatus.

There is one further aspect of Wittgenstein’s theory in the Tractatus about which something must be said. Were this theory “true,” then even though philosophy were divested of any logical or scientific function, it would go far toward reestablishing the metaphysical importance of analytical philosophy itself. Now we have said that, on Wittgenstein’s view in the Tractatus, the primary business of language is to state facts. But, as Russell points out in his own “introduction” to the Tractatus, “stating facts” seems to require an essential correspondence between “the structure of the sentence and the structure of the fact.” “This,” said Russell approvingly, is “perhaps the most fundamental thesis of Mr. Wittgenstein’s theory.” In a word, Wittgenstein, like Russell himself, still clings to the ancient doctrine of a Logos which is mirrored in the basic patterns of rational discourse. Given the syntax of a scientifically correct language, one can determine in a general way the pervasive ontological structure of objective reality. Thus, even if formal logic itself provides nothing more than the transformation rules for getting logically from one statement to another, the analytical philosophy of language and of logic enables us to show what the metaphysical traits of “being” really are.

However, since on Wittgenstein’s earlier view, it is the fundamental task of discourse to state facts, and since that which allegedly is common to facts and the forms of words which represent them are not facts, but only in some sense a representation thereof (the analogy of the relation of a photograph to that which it represents is perhaps helpful here), it seems to follow that what the philosopher asserts to be in common between a logically perfect language and that which it represents cannot itself be said in language. The philosopher, in short, states nothing; like the painter he merely shows us what there is. And the reason for this is simply that language, whose function by definition is to state facts, cannot at the same time state the primordial likeness between facts and the propositions which state them. In other words, although a perfect language would reveal the fundamental ontological structure of the world, and just because it does so, no statement in that language would be capable of stating it. In attempting to say what that structure is, the philosopher who seeks to describe it would have to use the very language which exhibits it, and thus beg the very point at issue.

Wittgenstein’s doctrine in the Tractatus thus in effect denies the possibility of philosophical paraphrase. And just as the literary critic can only suggest certain things about the significance of a poem, whose concrete meaning he can never precisely restate, so also the philosopher can only intimate the direction of what he is trying, impossibly, to say about the relations between a form of words and the states of affairs which it purports to describe. Thus, any basic philosophy such as Wittgenstein’s which aims not merely to restate the meanings of particular terms and statements, but also to disclose the fundamental “logic” of factual discourse, can literally say nothing at all about reality. At best it can display the fundamental syntactical forms through which exact science purports to tell us what there really is.

The great thing is that Wittgenstein was wholly consistent. He did not think that the Tractatus itself makes sense. On the contrary, because it necessarily employs language in an attempt to show what the metaphysical structure of the world really is, it is itself literally meaningless. Scientific philosophy thus provides a scaffolding which must be torn down as soon as the substantive work of science itself has begun. As Wittgenstein says, “My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them.” And so he concluded the Tractatus with the pregnant, although from his own point of view senseless, proposition that “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” The upshot is that philosophy itself is not a theory but an activity, which, no more than morality or religion, enables us “to see the world rightly.” Even at its Wittgensteinian best, it is merely an informal, metaphorical way of clearing our heads for the proper work of discourse which is the description of matters of fact. In short, the proper aim of philosophy is ultimately its own supercession, and a good philosophy is one which, having set logicians and scientists on the path of human knowledge, bows itself out like the musicians in the Farewell Symphony of Haydn. In an odd way, for the early Wittgenstein, the aim of analytical philosophy is purely ideological. The only peculiarity concerning his ideology was, like that of Russell and Moore before him, his exclusive preoccupation with the articulation of matters of fact.

The influence of Wittgenstein’s earlier point of view upon the logical positivists will be described elsewhere. In this section there remains to describe the features of his later philosophy which involve a repudiation of the doctrines of the Tractatus. But first it will be worthwhile to emphasize certain underlying continuities.

In the first place, although Wittgenstein subsequently repudiated the view that the primary function of language was (roughly) to state facts, he himself had little interest, even in his later writings, in the analysis of sentences whose function, directly or indirectly, are of a radically different sort. He came to think that even in science, as he had previously believed to be true of logic, not all propositions purport to state facts. And his later views concerning the role of general propositions in science are oddly reminiscent of ideas already well developed by the pragmatists. All the same, Wittgenstein himself contributed relatively little in a direct way to the analysis of the analysis of forms of words whose function is not indirectly “descriptive.” And although his later thesis that all language is public and social has wider implications than he was disposed to draw, the fact is that he seems always to have approached problems of language and thought from the standpoint of a person for whom questions of fact are most urgent.

Secondly, Wittgenstein seems never to have grasped the full possibileitis of the view that philosophy itself is an activity whose results are not a part either of formal logic, of positive science, or of commonsense descriptions of the world. For him, apparently, the fundamental aim of philosophy remains in some sense the “elucidation” of the logical syntax of language and the exposure of other philosophical theses which, in one way or another, involve the misuse of language. As he came increasingly to see, language is merely the leading part of forms of activity which are also non-linguistic. And he asserted later, with increasing emphasis, that “forms of words” reflect not the structure of things in themselves, but at best the “forms of life” which they serve to guide and control. Even in his later years, a comparatively small part of Wittgenstein’s thought was directly concerned with the study of those forms of words which are tied to and which reflect actinvites, such as morals, art, or religion, that do not purport directly Or indirectly to be statements of facts. In short, although he helped to liberate other analytical philosophers from a myopic preoccupation with the languages of mathematics and of science as models of logical and linguistic propriety, it is a question how far he himself was interested as a philosopher in any symbolism which does not purport to tell us what exists. One of the great merits of contemporary linguistic philosophy in England and elsewhere is that it has sought to analyze ir detail (hose nondescriptive uses of language in morals, in literature, and in religion, which neither Wittgenstein nor Russell bother to explain. In this respect Wittgenstein resembles Peirce, rather than James: he tells us that the meaning of a word or sentence is to be found through an ,analysis of its use; but he is not himself deeply interested in the analysis of symbolic forms whose aim is not to state anything at all. Possibly for this reason, even in his later phase, Wittgenstein, like Moore, still conceives of the analytical function of philosophy as mainly the explication of statements and the exposure of philosophical utterances which purport to be so, but are not.

All the same, Wittgenstein’s rejection of his own earlier conception id’ language has had consequences which those who have felt his influence are still exploring. Above all, the later Wittgenstein rejected the view that language has one basic use, the statement of facts. Moreover, like the pragmatists and idealists, whom in this respect as in others he increasingly resembles, he rejects the notion that words and sentences are, at least when they are functioning properly, to be understood as logical “pictures” of the facts with which they purport to deal. Language, he now argues, is not essentially a pictorial art, and the likenesses which may happen to hold between words or forms of words and nonlinguistic objects are purely coincidental to their conventional linguistic meaning or use. For example, the Greek word “thalassa” sounds a bit like the beating of the waves of the sea. But it does not, as a word, mean the sea in virtue of this resemblance. Language is rather more like a “tool” for getting various jobs of work done, and the meanings of words and sentences are to be analyzed in terms of their uses within the linguistic and extra-linguistic contexts in which we employ them.

Moreover, the notion of a logically perfect language is itself unclear and confused. Not only is it a fundamental mistake to attempt to analyze or to reconstruct the meanings of expressions in ordinary language in terms which, ignoring their familiar linguistic functions, attempt to explicate the meanings which presumably they would or should have if they could be converted into the terms of an ideal language of science; no language employed by men in dealing with the world, including the language of science itself, is or could become a calculus of terms and propositions whose supposed formation and transformation rules, no more and no less, enable us to state the plain unvarnished truth. Words, like tools, have countless uses; nor is there any “ideal” structure or syntax to which words in any proper use must conform. At best, we may hope to discover between “families” of terms certain illuminating likenesses and analogies. But these likenesses are not reducible, either by synonymous definitions or by logical reconstruction, to one identical concept or idea. For philosophers, the task now is to get rid of traditional preconceptions about language and thought which set us off on such wild goose chases as Descartes’, Moore’s and Russell’s search for absolutely “clear and distinct ideas” through which can be provided descriptions of something called atomic facts. Neither the language of science nor the language of common sense works that way.

In one sense, then, Moore was right. He was right in insisting that as they stand common-sense statements make perfectly good sense, and in his continuing worry about the meanings of bad philosophical reconstructions of them that seem inconsistent with what we plainly understand in ordinary terms to be true. He was right, by implication, in resisting the thesis that in order to understand what is being said in ordinary language we must be able to translate the meaning of any statement in that language into the supposedly impeccable terms of an ideal language of science. But he was wrong in supposing that, as in the case of the term “good,” all meaningful words must designate or “stand for” some “object,” if not natural and empirical, then “nonnatural” and trans-empirical. He was also wrong in supposing that the explication of all expressions must take a standard analytic form which attempts merely to formulate in more precise and complex terms an expression which is synonymous with the term to be defined. What we call “simplicity” and “clarity” are not the characteristics of certain unique concepts whose meanings can be determined by inspection. Nor is there any one absolute direction which philosophical analyses of terms or statements ought to take. The ideal of atomic facts, like that of uniquely clear and distinct ideas, is based upon a myth. A useful, and hence genuinely clarifying, analysis can only describe how a term is used in the contexts in which it is normally applied. Such an analysis would, at best, enable us to teach someone how to employ it in certain standard situations. Definitions such as “All brothers are male siblings,” which purport to give us expressions that are exact, if also more detailed, synonyms for the terms to be defined, are at best of very limited value, since unless we already know it, they never show us how the definiens is used in ordinary language. Moore, for example, claims that goodness is indefinable; very well; but no one, on the basis of his analysis, could possibly know how the term “good” is to be used in discourse. In a word, Wittgenstein’s analyses of concepts, unlike Moore’s, no longer aim at definitions which, even were they to be had, would leave us completely in the dark as to the use or function of the term to be defined. Nor like those of Russell do they aspire to provide supposedly “logical reconstructions” which seek to replace the imperfect and vague expressions of ordinary language with the supposedly clearer, simpler, and basic expressions of an ideal language of science.

As Wittgenstein’s opinions of the supposed virtues of an ideal language went down, his opinion of the virtues of ordinary language went up, and in his later writings he devoted most of his attention to studies toward their analysis. His preoccupation with “language games” was animated by the same concern as the pragmatists to determine the functions of thought and language in characteristic existential. contexts of inquiry. Owing to his background, the language games which Wittgenstein sought to play were, as it were, residual legatees of those which Moore and Russell would have played if, divested of all misconceptions about the nature of language and discourse, they had still continued to play their own “analytical” games of truth and consequences. And the philosophical puzzles which he sought to solve were mainly of the sort that unreconstructed logicians and epistemologists and metaphysicians had traditionally fallen into in their endeavor to tell us in principle what is possible, what exists, and what must be.


Wittgenstein’s followers and successors have sought to extend his methods of analysis to forms of words which he himself did not consider in detail. And much of the value of the writings of the “ordinary language” philosophers lies in their attempt to apply his principles to the detailed study of many linguistic “doings,” in such domains as ethics and law and theology. At Oxford, and elsewhere, philosophers of great acumen, such as Gilbert Ryle and John Austen and John Wisdom have refined and extended the applications of Wittgenstein’s later insights about the roles of language in spheres that previous analytical and scientific philosophers, concerned only with questions of “truth” and “knowledge,” had hitherto scarcely conceived. Now, in a curious way, the interest of the idealists in the symbolic forms employed in what they called “Geisteswissenschaft,” as distinct from Naturwissenschaft, is being revived and developed by analytical philosophers with the aid of analytical methods of which the idealist had hardly dreamed. Nor is this wholly surprising. For Wittgenstein, the prime mover of the movement of the philosophy of ordinary language was himself an Austrian who had studied carefully and taken deeply to heart the teachings of the greatest of Germanic philosophers, Immanuel Kant, whose own profound and prophetic “critique of reason” had sought, among other things, to show that there are no principles of scientific knowledge from which sound moral or theological or aesthetic principles can be deduced, and that no analysis of concepts, in any sphere, can show us anything about the structure of things as they are in themselves. In a word, Wittgenstein, like Kant, was a liberator, who will perhaps be remembered less for any specific theory either about language or about the world, than for his rechanneling of the course of analytical philosophy in England and elsewhere in directions which have a relevance to the understanding of every “form of life” that is reflected in the “forms of words” whereby men seek to control their destinies.

The early Wittgenstein, oddly enough, was something of a solipsist. Of course he did not actually think that what the solipsist intends to say can be said in the language whose patterns the Tractatus prescribes. But the implication is clear that the world as it would be described by a Wittgensteinian logician and scientist would be intelligible only to someone who grasped intuitively the sense of the logical pictures of elementary atomic facts. In a way, Wittgenstein’s early philosophy is, like that of Descartes, one which, beginning from scratch, attempts to explain how someone like himself might attempt to formulate a language all of whose basic terms find their referents in the world of his own experience. The fact that somebody else might understand what Wittgenstein is trying to show in the Tractatus is thus a kind of metaphysical miracle. And for the followers of the early Wittgenstein, as for the eighteenth-century Irish philosopher, George Berkeley, who, in so many other ways anticipates the thought of Wittgenstein, it remains a question what we ourselves are to make of statements about other minds than our own.

The later Wittgenstein, like the later Dewey, was extremely hostile to any metaphysics and to any philosophy of language which acknowledges that the problem of knowing other minds is, in principle, any different from that of knowing other bodies than our own. All discourse is a matter of learning to use words, and using words, as well as learning to use them, is a matter of socially conditioned behavior. Indeed, the later Wittgenstein repudiated the very notion of a so-called private language whose atomic sentences are intelligible only to the user. All language, apparently, is a social fact, and the forms of life which it expresses are as much a part of the natural world as jaguars, sunburn, or the Irish sea. Indeed, it now becomes a question, from Wittgenstein’s point of view, how the very notion of a private language could arise and how metaphysical questions about the existence of other minds and their “experiences” could occur. Of course, Wittgenstein himself by no means settled the question, and we may observe in the symposium on “Other Minds” how two of the most distinguished of Wittgenstein’s successors, John Wisdom and John Austin, have struggled to answer it. Readers will doubtless disagree about the respective merits of their views. Some indeed will feel that both of them in some way beg the fundamental question. For them it may seem that the question is not how we acquire and express our knowledge of other minds but whether there is any such knowledge to express. They, it may be thought, are the sons of Russell, who, like Descartes, still seeks to construct the house of human knowledge and understanding from items of bare first-personal acquaintance and commitment. But Wittgenstein and his followers agree rather with Moore that the fundamental analytical questions are not, and cannot be, whether there is an external world, but only what it is to say that such a world exists, not whether there are other minds, (crazy metaphysicians can doubt it), but only what it is that we are saying and doing in our talk of other minds. Radical Cartesian doubt always is the result of some malfunctioning of discourse, and the subsequent task of philosophy is to remove such sources of misunderstanding. Thus, as Professor Wisdom has sometimes suggested, there is a genuine analogy between philosophical analysis and psychoanalysis. The latter seeks to remove the causes of psychological neuroses, the former seeks to remove the linguistic causes of the metaphysical neuroses or “mental cramps” which land us on intellectual Queer Street. And once again we are reminded in an odd way of Immanuel Kant who sought in his Critique of Pure Reason, not only to write a kind of prolegomenon to every future metaphysics, but also to show how all the great traditional metaphysical problems arise, in one form or another, through a misapplication or misuse of the fundamental conceptual forms through which we seek to understand and to control our world.

H. A.


1 The Editors are grateful to Professor von Wright’s “Sketch” for most of the above facts about Wittgenstein’s life.


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