This page lists some links to ancient philosophy. In Western philosophy, the spread of Christianity in the Roman Empire marked the ending of Hellenistic philosophy and ushered in the beginnings of Medieval philosophy, whereas in Eastern philosophy, the spread of Islam through the Arab Empire marked the end of Old Iranian philosophy and ushered in the beginnings of early Islamic philosophy. Genuine philosophical thought, depending upon original individual insights, arose in many cultures contemporaneously. Karl Jaspers termed the intense period of philosophical development beginning around the 7th century and concluding around the 3rd century BCE an Axial Age in human thought. Chinese philosophy is the dominant philosophical thought in China and other countries within the East Asian cultural sphere that share a common language, including Japan and Vietnam; the Hundred Schools of Thought were philosophers and schools that flourished from the 6th century to 221 BCE, an era of great cultural and intellectual expansion in China.
Though this period – known in its earlier part as the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring States period – in its latter part was fraught with chaos and bloody battles, it is known as the Golden Age of Chinese philosophy because a broad range of thoughts and ideas were developed and discussed freely. The thoughts and ideas discussed and refined during this period have profoundly influenced lifestyles and social consciousness up to the present day in East Asian countries; the intellectual society of this era was characterized by itinerant scholars, who were employed by various state rulers as advisers on the methods of government and diplomacy. This period ended with the subsequent purge of dissent; the Book of Han lists ten major schools, they are: Confucianism, which teaches that human beings are teachable and perfectible through personal and communal endeavour including self-cultivation and self-creation. A main idea of Confucianism is the development of moral perfection. Confucianism holds that one should give up one's life, if necessary, either passively or for the sake of upholding the cardinal moral values of ren and yi.
Legalism. Compared with Machiavelli, foundational for the traditional Chinese bureaucratic empire, the Legalists examined administrative methods, emphasizing a realistic consolidation of the wealth and power of autocrat and state. Taoism, a philosophy which emphasizes the Three Jewels of the Tao: compassion and humility, while Taoist thought focuses on nature, the relationship between humanity and the cosmos. Harmony with the Universe, or the source thereof, is the intended result of many Taoist rules and practices. Mohism, which advocated the idea of universal love: Mozi believed that "everyone is equal before heaven", that people should seek to imitate heaven by engaging in the practice of collective love, his epistemology can be regarded as primitive materialist empiricism. Mozi advocated frugality, condemning the Confucian emphasis on ritual and music, which he denounced as extravagant. Naturalism, the School of Naturalists or the Yin-yang school, which synthesized the concepts of yin-yang and the Five Elements.
Agrarianism, or the School of Agrarianism, which advocated peasant utopian communalism and egalitarianism. The Agrarians believed that Chinese society should be modeled around that of the early sage king Shen Nong, a folk hero, portrayed in Chinese literature as "working in the fields, along with everyone else, consulting with everyone else when any decision had to be reached." The Logicians or the School of Names, which focused on definition and logic. It is said to have parallels with that of the Ancient Greek dialecticians; the most notable Logician was Gongsun Longzi. The School of Diplomacy or School of Vertical and Horizontal, which focused on practical matters instead of any moral principle, so it stressed political and diplomatic tactics, debate and lobbying skill. Scholars from this school were good orators and tacticians; the Miscellaneous School, which integrated teachings from different schools. This school tried to avoid their perceived flaws; the School of "Minor-talks", not a unique school of thought, but a philosophy constructed of all the thoughts which were discussed by and originated from normal people on the street.
Another group is the School of the Military that studied the philosophy of war. However, this school was not one of the "Ten Schools" defined by Hanshu; the founder of the Qin Dynasty, who implemented Legalism as the official philosophy, quashed Mohist and Confucianist schools. Legalism remained influential until the emperors of the Han Dynasty adopted Daoism and Confucianism as official doctrine; these latter two became the determining forces of Chinese thought until the introduction of Buddhism. Confucianism was strong during the Han Dynasty, whose greatest thinker was Dong Zhongshu, who integrated Confucianism with the thoughts of the Zhongshu School and the theory of the Five Elements, he was a promoter of the New Text school, which considered Confucius as a divine figure and a spiritual ruler of
Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring and Autumn period and Warring States period, during a period known as the "Hundred Schools of Thought", characterized by significant intellectual and cultural developments. Although much of Chinese philosophy begins in the Warring States period, elements of Chinese philosophy have existed for several thousand years, it was during the Warring States era that what Sima Tan termed the major philosophical schools of China: Confucianism and Taoism, along with philosophies that fell into obscurity, like Agriculturalism, Chinese Naturalism, the Logicians. Early Shang dynasty thought was based upon cycles; this notion stems from what the people of the Shang Dynasty could observe around them: day and night cycled, the seasons progressed again and again, the moon waxed and waned until it waxed again. Thus, this notion, which remained relevant throughout Chinese history, reflects the order of nature. In juxtaposition, it marks a fundamental distinction from western philosophy, in which the dominant view of time is a linear progression.
During the Shang, fate could be manipulated by great deities translated as gods. Ancestor worship was universally recognized. There was human and animal sacrifice; when the Shang were overthrown by the Zhou, a new political and philosophical concept was introduced called the "Mandate of Heaven". This mandate was said to be taken when rulers became unworthy of their position and provided a shrewd justification for Zhou rule. During this period, archaeological evidence points to an increase in literacy and a partial shift away from the faith placed in Shangdi, with ancestor worship becoming commonplace and a more worldly orientation coming to the fore. Confucianism developed during the Spring and Autumn period from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius, who considered himself a retransmitter of Zhou values, his philosophy concerns the fields of ethics and politics, emphasizing personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity. The Analects stress the importance of ritual, but the importance of'ren', which loosely translates as'human-heartedness, along with Legalism, is responsible for creating the world’s first meritocracy, which holds that one's status should be determined by education and character rather than ancestry, wealth, or friendship.
Confucianism was and continues to be a major influence in Chinese culture, the state of China and the surrounding areas of East Asia. Before the Han dynasty the largest rivals to Confucianism were Chinese Legalism, Mohism. Confucianism became the dominant philosophical school of China during the early Han dynasty following the replacement of its contemporary, the more Taoistic Huang-Lao. Legalism as a coherent philosophy disappeared due to its relationship with the unpopular authoritarian rule of Qin Shi Huang, many of its ideas and institutions would continue to influence Chinese philosophy until the end of Imperial rule during the Xinhai Revolution. Mohism, though popular due to its emphasis on brotherly love versus harsh Qin Legalism, fell out of favour during the Han Dynasty due to the efforts of Confucians in establishing their views as political orthodoxy; the Six Dynasties era saw the rise of the Xuanxue philosophical school and the maturation of Chinese Buddhism, which had entered China from India during the Late Han Dynasties.
By the time of the Tang dynasty five-hundred years after Buddhism's arrival into China, it had transformed into a Chinese religious philosophy dominated by the school of Zen Buddhism. Neo-Confucianism became popular during the Song dynasty and Ming Dynasty due in large part to the eventual combination of Confucian and Zen Philosophy. During the 19th and 20th centuries, Chinese philosophy integrated concepts from Western philosophy. Anti-Qing dynasty revolutionaries, involved in the Xinhai Revolution, saw Western philosophy as an alternative to traditional philosophical schools. During this era, Chinese scholars attempted to incorporate Western philosophical ideologies such as democracy, socialism, republicanism and nationalism into Chinese philosophy; the most notable examples are Sun Yat-Sen's Three Principles of the People ideology and Mao Zedong's Maoism, a variant of Marxism–Leninism. In the modern People's Republic of China, the official ideology is Deng Xiaoping's "market economy socialism".
Although the People's Republic of China has been hostile to the philosophy of ancient China, the influences of past are still ingrained in the Chinese culture. In the post-Chinese economic reform era, modern Chinese philosophy has reappeared in forms such as the New Confucianism; as in Japan, philosophy in China has become a melting pot of ideas. It accepts new concepts, while attempting to accord old beliefs their due. Chinese philosophy still carries profound influence amongst the people of East Asia, Southeast Asia. Around 500 BCE, after the Zhou state weakened and China moved into the Spring and Autumn period, the classic period of Chinese philosophy began; this is known as the Hundred Schools of Thought. This period is considered the golden age of Chinese philosophy. Of the many schools founded at this time and during the subsequent Warring States period, the four most
Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct. The field of ethics, along with aesthetics, concerns matters of value, thus comprises the branch of philosophy called axiology. Ethics seeks to resolve questions of human morality by defining concepts such as good and evil and wrong, virtue and vice and crime; as a field of intellectual inquiry, moral philosophy is related to the fields of moral psychology, descriptive ethics, value theory. Three major areas of study within ethics recognized today are: Meta-ethics, concerning the theoretical meaning and reference of moral propositions, how their truth values can be determined Normative ethics, concerning the practical means of determining a moral course of action Applied ethics, concerning what a person is obligated to do in a specific situation or a particular domain of action The English word "ethics" is derived from the Ancient Greek word ēthikós, meaning "relating to one's character", which itself comes from the root word êthos meaning "character, moral nature".
This was borrowed into Latin as ethica and into French as éthique, from which it was borrowed into English. Rushworth Kidder states that "standard definitions of ethics have included such phrases as'the science of the ideal human character' or'the science of moral duty'". Richard William Paul and Linda Elder define ethics as "a set of concepts and principles that guide us in determining what behavior helps or harms sentient creatures"; the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy states that the word "ethics" is "commonly used interchangeably with'morality'... and sometimes it is used more narrowly to mean the moral principles of a particular tradition, group or individual." Paul and Elder state that most people confuse ethics with behaving in accordance with social conventions, religious beliefs and the law and don't treat ethics as a stand-alone concept. The word ethics in English refers to several things, it can refer to philosophical ethics or moral philosophy—a project that attempts to use reason to answer various kinds of ethical questions.
As the English philosopher Bernard Williams writes, attempting to explain moral philosophy: "What makes an inquiry a philosophical one is reflective generality and a style of argument that claims to be rationally persuasive." Williams describes the content of this area of inquiry as addressing the broad question, "how one should live". Ethics can refer to a common human ability to think about ethical problems, not particular to philosophy; as bioethicist Larry Churchill has written: "Ethics, understood as the capacity to think critically about moral values and direct our actions in terms of such values, is a generic human capacity." Ethics can be used to describe a particular person's own idiosyncratic principles or habits. For example: "Joe has strange ethics." Meta-ethics is the branch of philosophical ethics that asks how we understand, know about, what we mean when we talk about what is right and what is wrong. An ethical question pertaining to a particular practical situation—such as, "Should I eat this particular piece of chocolate cake?"—cannot be a meta-ethical question.
A meta-ethical question is abstract and relates to a wide range of more specific practical questions. For example, "Is it possible to have secure knowledge of what is right and wrong?" is a meta-ethical question. Meta-ethics has always accompanied philosophical ethics. For example, Aristotle implies that less precise knowledge is possible in ethics than in other spheres of inquiry, he regards ethical knowledge as depending upon habit and acculturation in a way that makes it distinctive from other kinds of knowledge. Meta-ethics is important in G. E. Moore's Principia Ethica from 1903. In it he first wrote about. Moore was seen to reject naturalism in his Open Question Argument; this made. Earlier, the Scottish philosopher David Hume had put forward a similar view on the difference between facts and values. Studies of how we know in ethics divide into non-cognitivism. Non-cognitivism is the view that when we judge something as morally right or wrong, this is neither true nor false. We may, for example, be only expressing our emotional feelings about these things.
Cognitivism can be seen as the claim that when we talk about right and wrong, we are talking about matters of fact. The ontology of ethics is about value-bearing things or properties, i.e. the kind of things or stuff referred to by ethical propositions. Non-descriptivists and non-cognitivists believe that ethics does not need a specific ontology since ethical propositions do not refer; this is known as an anti-realist position. Realists, on the other hand, must explain what kind of entities, properties or states are relevant for ethics, how they have value, why they guide and motivate our actions. Normative ethics is the study of ethical action, it is the branch of ethics that investigates the set of questions that arise when considering how one ought to act, morally speaking. Normative ethics is distinct from meta-ethics because normative ethics examines standards for the rightness and wrongness of actions, while meta-ethics studies the meaning of moral language and the metaphysics of moral facts.
Normative ethics is distinct from descriptive ethics, as the latter is an empirical investigation of people's moral beliefs. To put it another way, descriptive ethics would be concerned with determining what proportion of people believe th
Scotism is the name given to the philosophical and theological system or school named after Blessed John Duns Scotus. The word comes from the name of its originator, whose Opus Oxoniense was one of the most important documents in medieval philosophy and Roman Catholic theology, defining what would be declared the Dogma of the Immaculate conception by Pope Pius IX in his constitution Ineffabilis Deus on 8 December 1854. Scotism developed out of the Old Franciscan School; this school of thought followed Augustinism which dominated theology at the time. Scotus found the ground cleared for the conflict with the followers of Aquinas, he made free use of Aristotelianism, but in its employment exercised sharp criticism, in important points adhered to the teaching of the Older Franciscan School – with regard to the plurality of forms or of souls, the spiritual matter of the angels and of souls, etc. wherein he energetically combatted Aquinas. Scotism, or what is known as the Later Franciscan School, is thus only a continuation or further development of the older school, with a much wider, although not exclusive acceptance of Peripatetic ideas.
The difference between Thomism and Scotism could be expressed by saying that, while both derive from Arabic Neoplatonized Aristotelianism, Thomism is closer to the orthodox Aristotelianism of Maimonides and Avicenna, while Scotism reflects the Platonizing tendency going back through Avicebron, the Brethren of Purity, the Liber de Causis and Proclus to Plotinus. Concerning the relation of these schools to each other, or the relation of Scotus to Alexander of Hales and St. Bonaventure, consult the work of the Flemish Recollect, Mathias Hauzeur, it is notable that, while Thomism became the official philosophy of the Church, Scotist influence prevailed on a number of important points, not least the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. Nominalism is older than Scotus, but its revival in Occamism may be traced to the one-sided exaggeration of some propositions of Scotus. Scotist Formalism is the direct opposite of Nominalism, the Scotists were at one with the Thomists in combatting the latter.
The Council of Trent defined as dogma a series of doctrines emphasized by the Scotists. In other points the canons were intentionally so framed; this was done at the Vatican Council. In the Thomistic–Molinistic controversy concerning the foreknowledge of God, the relation of grace to free will, the Scotists took little part, they either supported one of the parties, or took up a middle position, rejecting both the predetermination of the Thomists and the scientia media of the Molinists. God recognizes the free future acts in His essence, provides a free decree of His will, which does not predetermine our free will, but only accompanies it. Jesuit philosophers and theologians adopted a series of the Scotist propositions. Authorities reject in part many of these propositions and another series of propositions was misunderstood by Catholic theologians, in this false sense rightly rejected – e.g. the doctrine of the univocatio entis, of the acceptation of the merits of Christ and man, etc. Numerous other propositions have been accepted or at least favourably treated by a large number of Catholic scholars and amongst these are many propositions from psychology: e.g. that the powers of the soul are not accidents natural and necessary of the soul, that they are not distinct from the substance of the soul or from one another etc.
They took from Scotism many propositions concerning the doctrine of the angels. Scotism exercised an influence on the development of theology. A comparison of the Scotist teaching with that of Aquinas has been attempted – for example, in the abovementioned work of Hauzeur at the end of the first volume. In many cases, the differences are in the terminology and a reconciliation is possible if one emphasize certain parts of Scotus or Aquinas and passes over or tones down others. However, some contradictions remain on a number of points. Speaking, Scotism found its supporters within the Franciscan Order. However, this does not mean that the foundation and development of Scotism is to be regarded as a product of the rivalry between the two orders. Aquinas at first found a few opponents in his order – not all his fellow-Dominicans followed him in every particular; the Scotist doctrines were supported by many Minorites. Furthermore, Scotism found not a few supporters among secular professors and in other religious orders in England and Spain.
Of the Minorites who supported Scotist doctrine, the Conventuals seem to have adhered most faithfully to Scotus at the University of Padua, where many esteemed teachers lectured. It is only at the end of the 15th or the beginning of the 16th century that a special Scotist School can be spoken of; the works of the master were collected, brought out in many editions and commentated, etc. And from 1501 we find numerous regulations of general chapters recommending or directly prescribing Scotism as the
Platonism, rendered as a proper noun, is the philosophy of Plato or the name of other philosophical systems considered derived from it. In narrower usage, rendered as a common noun, refers to the philosophy that affirms the existence of abstract objects, which are asserted to "exist" in a "third realm" distinct both from the sensible external world and from the internal world of consciousness, is the opposite of nominalism. Lower case "platonists" need not accept any of the doctrines of Plato. In a narrower sense, the term might indicate the doctrine of Platonic realism; the central concept of Platonism, a distinction essential to the Theory of Forms, is the distinction between the reality, perceptible but unintelligible, the reality, imperceptible but intelligible. The forms are described in dialogues such as the Phaedo and Republic as transcendent perfect archetypes of which objects in the everyday world are imperfect copies. In the Republic the highest form is identified as the Form of the Good, the source of all other forms, which could be known by reason.
In the Sophist, a work, the forms being and difference are listed among the primordial "Great Kinds". In the 3rd century BC, Arcesilaus adopted skepticism, which became a central tenet of the school until 90 BC when Antiochus added Stoic elements, rejected skepticism, began a period known as Middle Platonism. In the 3rd century AD, Plotinus added mystical elements, establishing Neoplatonism, in which the summit of existence was the One or the Good, the source of all things. Platonism had a profound effect on Western thought, many Platonic notions were adopted by the Christian church which understood Plato's forms as God's thoughts, while Neoplatonism became a major influence on Christian mysticism, in the West through St Augustine, Doctor of the Catholic Church whose Christian writings were influenced by Plotinus' Enneads, in turn were foundations for the whole of Western Christian thought; the primary concept is the Theory of Forms. The only true being is founded upon the forms, the eternal, perfect types, of which particular objects of moral and responsible sense are imperfect copies.
The multitude of objects of sense, being involved in perpetual change, are thereby deprived of all genuine existence. The number of the forms is defined by the number of universal concepts which can be derived from the particular objects of sense; the following excerpt may be representative of Plato's middle period metaphysics and epistemology: "Since the beautiful is opposite of the ugly, they are two." "Of course." "And since they are two, each is one?" "I grant that also." "And the same account is true of the just and unjust, the good and the bad, all the forms. Each of them is itself one, but because they manifest themselves everywhere in association with actions and one another, each of them appears to be many." "That's right." "So, I draw this distinction: On one side are those you just now called lovers of sights, lovers of crafts, practical people. "How do you mean?" "The lovers of sights and sounds like beautiful sounds, colors and everything fashioned out of them, but their thought is unable to see and embrace the nature of the beautiful itself."
"That's for sure." "In fact, there are few people who would be able to reach the beautiful itself and see it by itself. Isn't that so?" "Certainly." "What about someone who believes in beautiful things, but doesn't believe in the beautiful itself and isn't able to follow anyone who could lead him to the knowledge of it? Don't you think he is living in a dream rather than a wakened state? Isn't this dreaming: whether asleep or awake, to think that a likeness is not a likeness but rather the thing itself that it is like?" "I think that someone who does, dreaming." "But someone who, to take the opposite case, believes in the beautiful itself, can see both it and the things that participate in it and doesn't believe that the participants are it or that it itself is the participants--is he living in a dream or is he awake? "He's much awake." Book VI of the Republic identifies the highest form as the Form of the Good, the cause of all other Ideas, that on which the being and knowing of all other Forms is contingent.
Conceptions derived from the impressions of sense can never give us the knowledge of true being. It can only be obtained by the soul's activity within itself, apart from the troubles and disturbances of sense. Dialectic, as the instrument in this process, leading us to knowledge of the forms, to the highest form of the Good, is the first of sciences. Neoplatonism, beginning with Plotinus, identified the Good of the Republic with the so-called transcendent, absolute One of the first hypothesis of the Parmenides. Platonist ethics is based on the Form of the Good. Virtue is the recognition of the supreme form of the good. And, since in this cognition, the three parts of the soul, which are reason and appetite, all have their share, we get the three virtues, Wisdom and Moderation; the bond which unites the other virtues is the virtue of Justice, by which each part of the soul is confined to the performance of its proper function. Platonism had a profound effect on Western thought. In many interpretations of the Timaeus Platonism, like Aristotelianism, poses an eternal universe, as opposed to the nearby Judaic tradition that the universe had bee
Pragmatism is a philosophical tradition that began in the United States around 1870. Its origins are attributed to the philosophers William James, John Dewey, Charles Sanders Peirce. Peirce described it in his pragmatic maxim: "Consider the practical effects of the objects of your conception. Your conception of those effects is the whole of your conception of the object."Pragmatism considers words and thought as tools and instruments for prediction, problem solving and action, rejects the idea that the function of thought is to describe, represent, or mirror reality. Pragmatists contend that most philosophical topics—such as the nature of knowledge, concepts, meaning and science—are all best viewed in terms of their practical uses and successes; the philosophy of pragmatism "emphasizes the practical application of ideas by acting on them to test them in human experiences". Pragmatism focuses on a "changing universe rather than an unchanging one as the Idealists and Thomists had claimed". Pragmatism as a philosophical movement began in the United States in the 1870s.
Charles Sanders Peirce is given credit for its development, along with twentieth century contributors, William James and John Dewey. Its direction was determined by The Metaphysical Club members Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, Chauncey Wright, as well as John Dewey and George Herbert Mead; the first use in print of the name pragmatism was in 1898 by James, who credited Peirce with coining the term during the early 1870s. James regarded Peirce's "Illustrations of the Logic of Science" series as the foundation of pragmatism. Peirce in turn wrote in 1906 that Nicholas St. John Green had been instrumental by emphasizing the importance of applying Alexander Bain's definition of belief, "that upon which a man is prepared to act". Peirce wrote. John Shook has said, "Chauncey Wright deserves considerable credit, for as both Peirce and James recall, it was Wright who demanded a phenomenalist and fallibilist empiricism as an alternative to rationalistic speculation."Peirce developed the idea that inquiry depends on real doubt, not mere verbal or hyperbolic doubt, said, in order to understand a conception in a fruitful way, "Consider the practical effects of the objects of your conception.
Your conception of those effects is the whole of your conception of the object", which he called the pragmatic maxim. It equates any conception of an object to the general extent of the conceivable implications for informed practice of that object's effects; this is the heart of his pragmatism as a method of experimentational mental reflection arriving at conceptions in terms of conceivable confirmatory and disconfirmatory circumstances—a method hospitable to the generation of explanatory hypotheses, conducive to the employment and improvement of verification. Typical of Peirce is his concern with inference to explanatory hypotheses as outside the usual foundational alternative between deductivist rationalism and inductivist empiricism, although he was a mathematical logician and a founder of statistics. Peirce further wrote on pragmatism to make clear his own interpretation. While framing a conception's meaning in terms of conceivable tests, Peirce emphasized that, since a conception is general, its meaning, its intellectual purport, equates to its acceptance's implications for general practice, rather than to any definite set of real effects.
Peirce in 1905 coined the new name pragmaticism "for the precise purpose of expressing the original definition", saying that "all went happily" with James's and Schiller's variant uses of the old name "pragmatism" and that he nonetheless coined the new name because of the old name's growing use in "literary journals, where it gets abused". Yet in a 1906 manuscript he cited as causes his differences with Schiller. And, in a 1908 publication, his differences with James as well as literary author Giovanni Papini. Peirce in any case regarded his views that truth is immutable and infinity is real, as being opposed by the other pragmatists, but he remained allied with them on other issues. Pragmatism enjoyed renewed attention after Willard Van Orman Quine and Wilfrid Sellars used a revised pragmatism to criticize logical positivism in the 1960s. Inspired by the work of Quine and Sellars, a brand of pragmatism known sometimes as neopragmatism gained influence through Richard Rorty, the most influential of the late twentieth century pragmatists along with Hilary Putnam and Robert Brandom.
Contemporary pragmatism may be broadly divided into a strict analytic tradition and a "neo-classical" pragmatism that adheres to the work of Peirce and Dewey. Inspiration for various pragmatists included: Francis Bacon who coined the saying ipsa scientia potestas est David Hume for his naturalistic account of knowledge and action Thomas Reid, for his direct realism Immanuel Kant, for his idealism and from whom Peirce derives the name "pragmatism" G. W. F. Hegel who introduced temporality into philosophy J. S. Mill for his nominalism and empiricism George Berkeley for his project to eliminate all unclear concepts from philosophy Henri Bergson who influenced William James to renounce intellectualism and logical methods A few of the various but interrelated positions characteristic
Analytic philosophy is a style of philosophy that became dominant in the Western world at the beginning of the 20th century. The term can refer to one of several things: As a philosophical practice, it is characterized by an emphasis on argumentative clarity and precision making use of formal logic, conceptual analysis, and, to a lesser degree and the natural sciences; as a historical development, analytic philosophy refers to certain developments in early 20th-century philosophy that were the historical antecedents of the current practice. Central figures in this historical development are Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, G. E. Moore, Gottlob Frege, the logical positivists. In this more specific sense, analytic philosophy is identified with specific philosophical traits, such as: The logical-positivist principle that there are not any philosophical facts and that the object of philosophy is the logical clarification of thoughts; this may be contrasted with the traditional foundationalism, which considers philosophy to be a special science that investigates the fundamental reasons and principles of everything.
Many analytic philosophers have considered their inquiries as continuous with, or subordinate to, those of the natural sciences. This is an attitude that begins with John Locke, who described his work as that of an "underlabourer" to the achievements of natural scientists such as Newton. During the 20th century, the most influential advocate of the continuity of philosophy with science was Willard Van Orman Quine; the principle that the logical clarification of thoughts can be achieved only by analysis of the logical form of philosophical propositions. The logical form of a proposition is a way of representing it, to reduce it to simpler components if necessary, to display its similarity with all other propositions of the same type. However, analytic philosophers disagree about the correct logical form of ordinary language; the neglect of generalized philosophical systems in favour of more restricted inquiries stated rigorously, or ordinary language. According to a characteristic paragraph by Russell: Modern analytical empiricism differs from that of Locke and Hume by its incorporation of mathematics and its development of a powerful logical technique.
It is thus able, in regard to certain problems, to achieve definite answers, which have the quality of science rather than of philosophy. It has the advantage, in comparison with the philosophies of the system-builders, of being able to tackle its problems one at a time, instead of having to invent at one stroke a block theory of the whole universe, its methods, in this respect, resemble those of science. In the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, New Zealand and Scandinavia, the majority of university philosophy departments today identify themselves as "analytic" departments. Analytic philosophy is understood in contrast to other philosophical traditions, most notably continental philosophies such as existentialism and phenomenology, Thomism and Marxism. British idealism, as taught by philosophers such as F. H. Bradley and Thomas Hill Green, dominated English philosophy in the late 19th century. With reference to this intellectual basis the initiators of analytic philosophy, G. E. Moore and Bertrand Russell, articulated early analytic philosophy.
Since its beginning, a basic goal of analytic philosophy has been conceptual clarity, in the name of which Moore and Russell rejected Hegelianism for being obscure—see for example Moore's "A Defence of Common Sense" and Russell's critique of the doctrine of internal relations. Inspired by developments in modern logic, the early Russell claimed that the problems of philosophy can be solved by showing the simple constituents of complex notions. An important aspect of British idealism was logical holism—the opinion that there are aspects of the world that can be known only by knowing the whole world; this is related to the opinion that relations between items are internal relations, that is, properties of the nature of those items. Russell, along with Wittgenstein, in response promulgated logical atomism and the doctrine of external relations—the belief that the world consists of independent facts. Russell, during his early career, along with his collaborator Alfred North Whitehead, was much influenced by Gottlob Frege, who developed predicate logic, which allowed a much greater range of sentences to be parsed into logical form than was possible using the ancient Aristotelian logic.
Frege was influential as a philosopher of mathematics in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. In contrast to Edmund Husserl's 1891 book Philosophie der Arithmetik, which argued that the concept of the cardinal number derived from psychical acts of grouping objects and counting them, Frege argued that mathematics and logic have their own validity, independent of the judgments or mental states of individual mathematicians and logicians. Frege further developed his philosophy of logic and mathematics in The Foundations of Arithmetic and The Basic Laws of Arithmetic, where he provided an alternative to psychologistic accounts of the concept of number. Like Frege, Russell argued that mathematics is reducible to logical fundamentals in The Principles of Mathematics, his book written with Whitehead, Principia Mathematica, encouraged many philosophers to renew their interest in the