How does logical positivism reconcile with pragmatism?

How does logical positivism reconcile with pragmatism?

(And why isn’t analytic philosophy completely dead yet? If it is, then excuse me–I haven’t received the memo yet.)

it doesn’t


I think people want analytic philosophy to be dead because it’s really hard to do. It’s not dead though. It probably wont be anytime soon.

Then why do people embrace it? :-s

It’s not hard; it’s just stupid.

If a person is going to waste time doing it, then why not do something practical in the first place? Analytics is just like a really complicated board game, except there’s no prize for winning first, second, or even last.

Whatever you say.

What’s hard about analytics?

What’s hard about learning a second language, except memorization?

for the same reason they grasp any religion…


Read Timothy Williamson, then you’ll see whats hard about analytic philosophy. That man could tell a fairy tale and make it complicated. Everything he’s wrote that I’ve read seems to include the phrase ‘let us introduce the following schema’, followed by a lot of logic involving possible worlds.

The only thing that is, in my view, hard about reading analytic philosophy is the level of logical and clear-headed thinking involved. That and there are some horrible, horrible writers out there.

What is ‘analytic philosophy’ realunoriginal? I’ve read ‘analytic philosophers’ who would agree with a lot of the things said on here. Denial of the reality of moral values, denial of the claim that logical sentences are any more than stipulations (i.e. let it be the case that we can infer A from A and B), denials of various types of realisms, the acceptance of the strength of sceptical arguments about knowledge. Hell, you get serious analytic philosophers writing about morality as a convenient fiction: the only difference with Joker is that they view it as convenient. Its a way of doing philosophy, not a substantial philosophical view point.

People react against analytic philosophy because sometimes it requires a lot of work to understand, and some prior knowledge. This is as silly as reacting against quantum physics because it requires a degree of education. Of course, there is bad analytic philosophy. But there is bad anything. I suppose thats the virtue of studying it at university: you get people to pick out the articles that are actually important and give them to you to read.

A point about the dominance of analytic philosophy at academic institutions. If we view it as a way of doing philosophy, then this makes sense. You can, to a degree, teach logical and rigorous thinking. There’s a reason why they don’t teach the sort of wild speculation you get on a place like ILP in the schools - you don’t need to, and can’t, teach that kind of thing. Something I read summed it up pretty well, the job of a university cannot be to create a new Nietzsche or whatever because you can’t create a genius. ‘original philosophy’ can’t be taught because then it wouldn’t be original.

Why would logical positivism reconcile with pragmatism? The 2 viewpoints seem quite opposed in many respects. Logical positivists think that scientific statements are rendered true by empirical verification. I suppose the sense in which they might start to overlap is that people like Quine viewed verification as holistic: is that what you’re getting at?

The analytic philosophy writing style is infused with logic to the point where it is no longer necessary, constructing so many fallacies for thoughts and grammar that the fallacies themselves become fallacious in their given contexts. It is trying to speak a language so precisely that it already passes the point of absurdity and becomes something foreign aways back.

I agree 100%. The problem then, to me, is that people still get paid for this bullshit as if it has some kind of practical use within philosophy. Analytic philosophy should be part of a law program through university studies, not philosophical studies (according to pragmatic thinking of course).

It depends on the context. QM is almost always agreed to be practical, because not only is it a ‘science’, it is capable of producing and manipulating ‘physical’ things through described phenomena.

It shouldn’t matter if it’s ‘logical’ and ‘rigorous’ if it isn’t relevant to people in any way, shape-or-form. Hell, I’ve never even heard philosophy students nor teachers defend it’s validity after the fact. Post-analytics came and went, but it seems like some people value the practice. It just doesn’t make much sense to me.

Logical positivism should reconcile with pragmatism, because pragmatism has all-but-won as the forefront philosophy of the 21st century. It earned it too; by upholding ‘practicality’ as a philosophical virtue, it was able to actually produce things. Namely, conceptual knowledge, language theory, and linguistics are the beneficial results of American pragmatism. Credit is due across the board, yes, but American pragmatism leads the world’s philosophy last I heard, for very good reasons.

Then again, it’s been a couple years since I was in college. I may have missed some kind of crucial information about these insights.

If you say so. Quite frankly I have no idea what you are talking about.

Right, so logical and rigorous thinking has no practical use within philosophy. What exactly do you mean by ‘pragmatic thinking’ here? As far as I’m aware, there’s a lot of ‘pragmatist’ philosophers working within analytic philosophy. Quine was a pragmatist, right?

My point was just that people react against analytic philosophy because it requires some prior knowledge. You can substitute any academic discipline you wish for QM.

Some philosophy is relevant, some is esoteric nonsense. Its always been that way. Who is it meant to be relevant to anyway?

Again, what exactly do you mean by pragmatism? Its a name thats used to describe all sorts of views. Sure, you get plenty of pragmatisms ‘about’ things. Pragmatism about epistemology, about science, whatever. Certainly neither of these are ‘dead issues’ in current philosophy. Pragmatism about epistemology isn’t the dominant view, though it should be. But any of the recent arguments for pragmatism about epistemology I’ve read have been advanced by philosophers who are working within the analytic tradition. Certainly, pragmatism about science is not a dead issue. If it is, somebody should tell the scientists. I don’t know what exactly you’d mean by pragmatism about science, some kind of instrumentalism?

Analytic philosophy is like any method, some do it well, some do it badly. Dismissing an entire tradition is daft.

David Lewis is an analytical philosopher. He’s dead, but he hasn’t been dead that long. I like reading him because I learn things. Reading continental philosophy is like reading a novel. You either agree or disagree, and you always have a reason to. It’s pretty hard to disagree with Lewis. It might be even harder to understand him. It’s just nice to read something that isn’t loaded with bullshit emotional assertions. Logic is cool.

Yeah I guess…

I would just respond in kind by saying it’s impossible to get away from emotional assertions.

Irving, I’ll respond to you later.

I’d have to re-read some analytic philosphy and provide you with examples to make my point, which is definitely something I’m not willing to spend my time doing. What I meant is that analytic is too “logical” on the logical/emotive dichotomy. Let’s put those points aside for now.

It has a practical use as long as its “practical”. I don’t remember reading Quine. I purposefully forgot the lot of “analytic” philosophers and texts I read. I only respected analytics when I read Russell, but he was pragmatic beyond any other description.

I’m probably going too far with my generalizations, but the point I’m making is not about the difficulty of rigor in a particular field of study–I’m concerned about the relevance of the study-itself.

I agree, but your question in response is another matter entirely.

First of all, my contention is, what does analytic philosophy produce? Honestly, I don’t know. I studied in it briefly in college, but I never figured out its purpose. Nobody told me–as if everybody knew something that I didn’t. What I realized is that college professors and academic philosophy as a whole clings to analytic philosophy as its backbone. It literally pays the bills.

But is there a point to it? You tell me.

I generally equate ‘pragmatism’ to practicality. Basically, it means being practical with your philosophy. Philosophy is fine and dandy, but if it doesn’t relate to anything, it’s useless. Almost everybody agrees, unless you can provide for a different kind of teleology.

I think you are rather forgetting how computers and other electronic equipment operate. Never let it be said that logic is irrelevant. Abstract maths and logic have turned out to have the most wonderful applications, wouldn’t you say? I’ll reply to the rest later.

This seems like a categorical fallacy. Computer science and analytic philosophy are not even close to the same thing from my point of view. Plus, computers are actually practical.

Must I continue to beg the question?

Yes, I would say they have produced very “convenient” things for me. That still doesn’t address my concern with analytic philosophy.

Realun - I, too, have had some difficulty understanding just what you are talking about here. But your last post makes it a bit clearer.

Logical analysis, which is a lot of what Russell did, is concerned with which statements have meaning and which do not, and about just what those meanings are - can and cannot be. It entails a lot of what is often called proto- or metalogic. I suppose you know this already.

Russell, of course, did a lot of work in logic, mostly in logic-as-math, or symbolic logic. But translating verbal (linguistic) expressions into symbols is not always so easy. Russell’s work was important in that regard. But all of this is technique - it’s not about the claims we make per se, but about how to arrange them in arguments. So, logical analysis isn’t necessarily going to tell you what to believe, but to show what the ramifications of those beliefs are, assuming you want to argue for those beliefs, or from them.

Logical positivism was an outgrowth of LA. It’s scope was much more limited. The LP’s were concerned with trying to decide which categories of statements had literal meaning and which did not. And, as anyone who has read even a little LP knows, they tried to show that statements of a moral nature have no literal meaning, because they are not verifiable. So no truth value can be assigned to moral statements.

The first pragmatists were more or less in the same vein - Pierce and Dewey were, anyway - truth must be verifiable. Dewey, in particular, was very much concerned with reification of purely mental (non-phenomenal) constructs, although he recognised the usefulness of them - and their misuse. However, pragmatism branched off in all manner of directions. Reconciling pragmatism with analytic philosophy is easy if you stick to Dewey and Pierce, and impossible if you make it all the way to Rorty, for instance.

It jst depends on which pragmatists you choose. A large part of the problem is that the label “pragmatist” is used too much, over too broad a spectrum of thinkers. Rorty bears alomost no resemblence to Pierce or Dewey. Nor do the postwar pragmatists in general.

I think that’s a misjudgement…

It is a board largely played alone…

Why are you even playing?

From curiosity to pragmatism people embrace all styles of philosophy in order to fufill a certain need or desire.

And it can indeed provide fruits…

Be it in advancing a theory of the universe or figuring out a mroe efficient way to transport apples from point a to point b.

The process of reason, “logic”, leads us to persue many gameish avenues of thought…

What makes you see them as useless?

My style is very gameish… Quite sparatic also…

But it gets a certain job done. And like any job, it has a point.

I think this has been the statement I’ve been looking for. Somebody told me this years back in college and I forgot about it.

Things make much more sense now, thanks.

Yeah, I have a huge problem with LP. Analytic philosophy is fine, but I still don’t see it as a system of “philosophy” and I don’t think it should be paying “philosophy” teacher’s paychecks. It should be categorized accordingly and given to law or science… Whatever, that’s a petty argument for me to make though–rather inconsequential.

Didn’t a large amount of people bail from the LP crowd when they found out it was too difficult or impractical to analyze language in that particular way (deciding which statements have ‘literal’ meaning and which don’t) or is LP still alive and kicking? I see metaphoric language as the place to be, but you probably knew that already. Is there any philosophy field opposite of LP that I don’t know about? For example, is there a philosophy out there that decides which statements have ‘metaphoric’ meaning?

I don’t know about LP’s bailing out.

Logical positivism is a tool - it is part of an array of methods by which philosophy can be pursued as a study of language. As such, it has its influence to this day, through philosophical linguistics. But not everyone thinks of philosophy primarily as a study of language.

I happen to. And I use LP in my analysis of language. I do disagree that LP makes morality impossible - but agree that it contributes to the argument that metaphysics is meaningless.

I also use metaphor - I have made posts here that are entirely metaphor. They are usually met with yawns.

The two are not mutually exclusive. Nietzsche - before LP was born - used evidentiary arguments containing no premises that are rightly seen as moral statements, nor metaphysical ones, presented metaphorically. Perspectivism is a school of thought that uses nonmetaphysical statements in metaphorical ways. Which is one reason that many have trouble figuring out what Nietzsche is talking about. It a complex form of expression, but not an inherently difficult one.

Russell, a logical analyst, does take some time to decipher metaphorical expression. But LP and LA are not at odds. Indeed, they developed almost simultaneously. Russell was the true godfather of LP (depsite that the LP’s first love was Wittgenstein) and the LP’s influenced him as he influenced them. Logical positivism was more limited in scope than what Russell was trying to accomplish. Then again, Russell felt he knew no limits (an opinion I do not share).