Tag Archives: analytic philosophy

Thomas Nagel

A crucial determinant of the character of analytic philosophy—and a piece of luck as far as I am concerned—is the unimportance, in the English-speaking world, of the intellectual as a public figure. Fame doesn’t matter, and offering an opinion about practically everything is not part of the job. It is unnecessary for writers of philosophy to be more “of their time” than they want to be; they don’t have to write for the world but can pursue questions inside the subject, at whatever level of difficulty the questions demand. If the work is of high quality, they will receive the support of a large and dedicated academy that is generally independent of popular opinion. This is an enviably luxurious position to be in, by comparison to writers who depend for their status and income on the reaction of a broader public. Of course, there are plenty of silly fashions and blind spots inside the academic community, but in philosophy, at least, their effect has not been as bad as the need to compete for wider literary fame would be. I think arid technicalities are preferable to the blend of oversimplification and fake profundity that is too often the form taken by popular philosophy. A strong academy provides priceless shelter for the difficult and often very specialized work that must be done to advance the subject.

Thomas Nagel, Other Minds: Critical Essays, 1969-1994, New York, 1995, pp. 8-9

Walter Kaufmann

Analytic philosophy does not only develop the intellectual conscience, train the mind, and combine subtlety with scrupulous precision; above all, it teaches people to think critically and makes them instinctively antiauthoritarian. There is something democratic in this way of thinking: a proposition is a proposition, whether written by a student, a professor, or a Plato; the laws of logic are no respecters of persons.

Walter Kaufmann, Critique of Religion and Philosophy, Princeton, 1958, p. 25

José Ferrater Mora

A veces se topa uno con filósofos analíticos, o caen en manos de uno escritos de autores analíticos, que, por su rigidez e intolerancia, hacen pensar en lo que se ha llamado “terrorismo intelectual”—el tipo de terrorismo que suelen ejercer los “pequeños inquisidores” o los “burócratas intelectuales”—. Por fortuna, el terrorismo intelectual no puede gozar de larga vida dentro del pensamiento realmente analítico, porque termina por ser incompatible con el análisis, el cual se acaba cuando deja de ser crítico. Los posibles “excesos de análisis” no se curan con “menos análisis”, sino con más; aunque suene a paradoja, los “excesos del análisis” son opuestos a un “exceso de análisis”. El posible terrorismo intelectual antianalítico, en cambio, puede ser largo, y hasta crónico, porque las puertas de la crítica no prevalecen contra él.

José Ferrater Mora, Cambio de marcha en filosofía, Madrid, 1974, pp. 53-54