Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, Volume: 118
x + 345
Reviewed by: R.A. Goodrich (ACHE Chapter of the Society for the History of Emotions – University of Melbourne & ADI Philosophy & History of Ideas – Deakin University)
At the Sources of the Twentieth-Century Analytical Movement is explicitly drawn from the 2016 Krakow-based Naroidowe Centrum Nauki research project headed by Jacek Jadacki on Kazimierz Twardowski’s place in Polish culture and European philosophy (see https://projekty.ncn.gov.pl/opisy/352223-en.pdf ). Notwithstanding the title and subtitle of this collection, virtually half its fourteen contributions focus upon Twardowski’s and his students’ role in Polish intellectual life and philosophical enquiry, initially in Lwów (also known as Lemberg and nowadays as Lviv) from 1895 and twenty years later in Warszawa (Warsaw).
Readers curious about the fate of philosophy in twentieth-century central Europe’s killing field will be amply rewarded. Seven chapters partly or wholly focus upon the formerly partitioned Poland onwards such as those by Jan Wolénski (66ff. & 143ff.), Mariusz Grygianiec (124ff.), Anna Brożek (156ff., 221ff. & 236ff.), Ryszard Kleszcz (212ff.), and Marcin Będkowski (250ff.) as well as Tadeusz Szubka’s “Opening Word” (5-11) and Part One of the co-editors’ “Closing Word” (267-306). Collectively, the treatment of Polish philosophers here demonstrates a marked departure from the first, frequently republished English-language monograph by Henryk Skolimowski (1964) which regards Polish philosophers described by him as analytical to be definable by their approach to language. He noticeably tends to sidestep not only their analyses of scientific knowledge, but also their application of techniques drawn from the logico-linguistic realm.
For non-Slavic readers, who at best may have some familiarity with, for example, Roman Ingarden or Jan Łukasiewicz in translation, might wonder why so many others included by the editors remain largely ignored outside Poland. Do they share the fate of so many Slavic-speaking intellectuals prone to neglect because, in the words of Norman Geschwind, their “important confirmed scientific observations,” and “in other fields as well,” “could almost be expunged” from the knowledge nowadays of contemporary scholars for relatively predictable reasons (1974: 19)? These include “neglect of work written in a foreign language, neglect of work done by someone in a different field, excessive reliance on the authority of certain towering individual figures” (1974: 19). Should Geschwind’s concern be considered exaggerated, the recent proliferation of works by and about Twardowski nonetheless warrants careful appraisal. As Gilbert Ryle concludes in the case of Twardowski’s teacher, Franz Brentano:
Ours is an age of posthumous literary magnification. Reprintings chase reprintings; commentaries chase commentaries; unpublished writings … are forever being assembled into … collected editions which publishers … unload on to libraries. (1976, p. 15)
Three overlapping issues repeatedly associated with Twardowski figure throughout the Brożek and Jadacki anthology under review. The first issue centres upon what Twardowski meant by “scientific” philosophy. The second concerns his seminal distinction between “actions” and “products” emanating from his 1894 thesis undertaken in Vienna. Whilst probing both issues, we will include the roles of psychology and logic Twardowski subsequently attributed to philosophical enquiries. Thereafter, we shall conclude by critically exploring the presumption that the twentieth century “analytical movement” to which Twardowski and his circle contributed is principally distinguished by its “general methodological attitudes” (274).
Szubka’s opening contribution immediately launches us into the theme of “scientific philosophy.” He includes different European views that emerged from the ’twenties and ’thirties. For example, Rudolf Carnap of the Vienna Circle is baldly summarised as seeing philosophy not as a way of conducting a (“natural”) science but of “elucidating” it by “investigating its language and logic” (5). Hans Reichenbach (1951) of the Berlin Society for Empirical (or Scientific) Philosophy construes scientific philosophy in terms of analysing the results of the physical sciences, the knowledge acquired falling short of certainties associated with the “principles of logic and mathematics” (13). Moreover, he believes that “scientific philosophy advances” by “performing logical analysis” and “avoiding metaphorical and pictorial language” (14). Yet, Szubka continues, Reichenbach remains wedded to “the verifiability theory of meaning” which reductively commits itself to “bare direct observation” and therefore cannot accommodate the interpretation of such evidence needed to develop a scientifically significant “body of systematic knowledge” (15).
Szubka confronts readers with the “startling” fact that Twardowski himself did not undertake “a detailed and systematic account” of scientific philosophy (6). Instead, he appears to “implement … those ideas of Brentano … he considered as undeniably correct” and pursuing them in clear and exact language as the “rigorous academic discipline” of scientific philosophy demands (7). Szubka locates four basic trajectories within Twardowski’s view of scientific philosophy:
[a] In his essay on Friedrich Nietzsche, Twardowski (1895, p. 380) concludes with the exhortation that “scientific philosophy will continue to demand severely and unrelentingly that the first condition of philosophical investigation is precision of expression.” In a later foray into philosophical discourse, Twardowski (1920, p. 258) claims that “our thought, especially when it is abstract, manifests itself from the beginning in verbal attire, having the most intimate connection with expressions of speech,” so that obscurity of expression is purportedly tantamount to obscurity of thought.
[b] In his essay probing psychology, physiology, and philosophy, Twardowski (1897, p. 60) declares that the “term ‘philosophy’ designates a group of sciences,” amongst which figure ontology, logic, and epistemology. In his later 1929 Polish Philosophical Society address, Twardowski (1931, p. 274) emphasizes that scientific (or “critical”) philosophy is opposed to metaphysical systems claiming to be “scientifically well-founded” and possessed of indubitable “objective status.”
[c] In his inaugural Polish Philosophical Society address, Twardowski (1904, p. 47) remarks that, “in the area of facts which is the subject matter of philosophy,” “continuous peer control is indispensable” amongst colleagues; indeed, their collaboration, by bringing different perspectives to bear upon the problem involved, needs “to occupy the foremost place.”
[d] The first trajectory above is recast in terms of fallacies besetting philosophers and scientists alike when Twardowski (1921, pp. 262 & 263) pinpoints the tendency to reify logical and mathematical symbols: “symbols and the operations performed on them, originally the means to an end, become … an end in itself,” ultimately ignoring what “the symbols (being the signs of things in the broadest sense of the term) symbolize.”
At this juncture, more questions emerge than answers. Has Twardowski provided us with an unequivocal account of “scientific” philosophy? Szubka concludes that the very notion of scientific philosophy is ambiguous, noticeably sliding between philosophy as “conforming to the general pattern of scientific investigations” and as engaging with “the results of the sciences themselves” (20). Is Twardowski’s fourfold trajectory above specifically applicable to “analytical” philosophy? Again, Szubka reminds us from the outset that, although the “idea” of the scientific and the analytical might well be “inextricably connected,” the self-description of individual philosophers and the various intellectual movements which they advocated were not always so bound (3; cf. 5-6). We shall examine some alternative conceptions of the analytical movement in our concluding section.
Twardowski’s action-product distinction, his most influential argument amongst analytical and phenomenological philosophers about the nature of judgement, receives repeated attention. Chapters by Maria van der Schaar (25ff.) and Sébastien Richard (79ff.) respectively re-examine the distinction’s relevance by considering not only its antecedents in the writings of Bernard Bolzano (1837) and Franz Brentano (1874), but also its re-interpretation by Friederike Moltmann in recent years who is fully familiar with Anglo-American analytical conceptions of propositional truths and cognitive acts. By contrast, another chapter by Jan Wolénski (50ff.) traces the successive modifications of Twardowski’s distinction before examining how Polish philosophers, especially Kazimierz Ajdukiewicz, Tadeusz Kotarbiński, and Alfred Tarski, applied them. Given limits upon length, we shall specifically focus upon the challenging critique mounted by van der Schaar. Before doing so, we shall briefly pinpoint Twardowski’s manner of conceptualising the distinction particularly but not exclusively in his 1912 “Actions and Products” paper.
Discriminating actions from products—czynności and wytwory in the Polish, fonctions and produits in the French, Funktionen and Gebilde in the German versions discussed by Wolénski (52-53)—has been crucial to the “sciences” Twardowski identifies as philosophy, especially those characterized as logical or epistemological. Moreover, according to Arianna Betti, “Actions and Products” neatly exemplifies “the method which has become now strongly associated with analytic philosophy” (2014, §3.2). Without fully summarising its classificatory details, two modes of analysis Twardowski only partly deployed are worth considering as regards the intersection of analytical and phenomenological enquiry. The first involves the syntactic-semantic analysis of language and the second, an analysis of the use and users of language.
Firstly, the distinction’s logical differences are supposedly demonstrated linguistically with verbs exemplifying mental (as well as physical and psychophysical) actions (1912, §10-12) and their corresponding nouns exemplifying the results (or products), demonstrated by “judge” and “judgement” or “think” and “thought” respectively (1912, §1; cf. §8-9). Judgement in the sense of an action is used in a psychological sense whereas judgement in the sense of the result or product of an action operates in a semantic if not logical sense (1912, §14). Without promoting an explicit actions-products distinction, Twardowski could well have remained trapped in the turn-of-century Psychologismus-Streit. It was a dispute that quickly engulfed Brentano in so far as he was seen to uphold psychologistic arguments of the following kind. If logic, for instance, is the theory of judgements and inferences, if judgements and inferences are mental categories, and if mental categories form the subject-matter of psychology, then logic is part of psychology. Or again, if psychology is defined as the science which investigates laws of thought and if logic is a discipline which investigates only a subset of laws of thought, then logic is part of psychology.
Secondly, in his 1894/1895 Vienna lectures on logic, when dealing with the mental or psychological actions being directed towards their objects, not their contents or subject-matter, Twardowski considers the difficulty arising when predicating judgements or propositions about mythical, imaginary or fictional objects or states-of-affairs. He consequently contends that all judgements can assume an existential (Existenziell) or a relational (Beziehungs-) form expressed positively or negatively (1894/1895, pp. 118ff.). A judgement exists as long as there is someone performing the corresponding act of judging which Twardowski identifies as “non-enduring” (1912, §23). So how can a set of judgements or propositions endure beyond the action producing them? They can endure when a spoken expression of them is materially transformed, for example, into writing, thereby no longer being an event, but becoming an independent thing or artefact (1912, §26-27). The spoken expression or utterance of the judgement counts as the sign of the judgement and the judgement counts as the meaning of the expression or utterance. This, of course, is by no means a singular phenomenon because spoken expressions or utterances cause other judgements either in another person or the same person at different times (1912, §32 & §34). Should we commit ourselves to a single meaning of a sign and not to a multiplicity of meanings affecting those upon whom it had acted, Twardowski assumes we have in effect entered a process of “abstraction performed on concrete mental products” (1912, §39). In other words, the process of abstraction results in a second-order psychological act focused upon the actual first-order mental activity before it. However, this raises a dilemma. Quoting van der Schaar, either the act of abstraction “presupposes an identical meaning that gives direction to our act of abstracting, or it is merely a psychological act” thwarting our capacity “to reach an identical meaning for different subjects on different occasions” (35). In short, “the relevant act of abstraction cannot occur without presupposing an abstract identity” (35).
Appealing to singular or unique meaning of expressions or utterances leads Twardowski to the imaginary (or “surrogate”) use of the language of judgements or propositions. In other words, not all judgements are produced by acts of actual judging; instead, they can result from actions of presenting. This, as Twardowski (1912, §43) acknowledges, is manifested by actors in wordless moments expressing emotions by means of gestures and postures in the context of drama which are no more than imaginary, mimicked or pretended (a point further elucidated by van der Schaar (34)). Admittedly, “Actions and Products” mainly targets the logical use of language. Following Twardowski (1912, §44), take, for example, the context of teaching patterns of reasoning in formally valid deductive arguments. We can present instances of false or fanciful judgements or propositions to demonstrate cases of affirming the antecedent (modus ponens) or denying the consequent (modus tollens):
If all hexagons are square, then all squares are circular [Cpq]
All hexagons are square [p]
Therefore, all squares are circular [q]
If all animals have vertebrae, then all vertebrae have purple indentations [Cpq]
Not all vertebrae have purple indentations [Nq]
Therefore, not all animals have vertebrae [Np]
Van der Schaar acknowledges how Moltmann’s recent essays, employing “ample linguistic evidence,” aim, like Twardowski, to portray that “the notion relevant to logic and philosophy in general is the product, not the act or the proposition” by giving “an account of semantics, propositional attitudes and truth” (36). But van der Schaar wishes to shift our attention to acts of inferring without invoking Twardowski’s problematic notion of abstract propositions. Nor does she wish to rely upon Moltmann’s appeal to propositional attitudes whose (attitudinal) objects are shared, whose properties “may have more than one instance” and hence “abstract,” and whose predication can apply to “more than one object” and hence “general” (39). “What Lucantonio feared was hoped for by Larisa” (cf. 38; a case overlooked by Moltmann (2017, pp. 274-275)) is not simply a proposition or judgement made, let alone an abstract one, but a proposition being true such as “that their cousin Alyssa will arrive next weekend.” Van der Schaar next probes whether we can, according to Twardowski and Moltmann, understand “judgements as bearers of truth or falsity” (40). Doubt emerges whenever we assert a judgement because “it seems more appropriate to call [it] correct or incorrect” (40). If our assertion, in response to the question of how we know, can be justified, then it is correct and such “an epistemic notion of correctness is one of the roles of truth” (40). The other notion can be found when explaining what makes a proposition true as distinct from merely valid as used in logical inferences (see our modus ponens and modus tollens examples above). If the “connectives” of objects and contexts are open to proof, then the “semantic role” of correctness comes to the fore as a bearer of truth (40).
Later, when reviewing theories of knowledge, Twardowski overtly claims that “Logic occupies itself with judgements as products” (1925, p. 186). Van der Schaar immediately questions the inferential relations based on prior judgements made and the judgement made in conclusion:
What are these inferential relations? Do they obtain independently of the judging agent? And what is the product of an act of inferring? … Can we give a unified account of logical inference for cases where we judge the premises … [and] where we merely take the premises as examples without them being judged? (41).
Aware that German distinguishes between schliessen (“to infer” (although also translatable in English as “to conclude … to connect … to deduce … to imply,” etc.)) and Schluss (“inference” or “conclusion”), van der Schaar identifies the act of inferring to be an epistemic act in which the act “has brought us from known premises, former judgements made, to a known conclusion, a new judgement made” (42). This, in turn, leads her to at least three crucial contentions in an effort to complete Twardowski’s act-product distinction regarding the concept of inference:
[a] Firstly, “former judgements made … function as a justification of the conclusion, but as such they are not part of the conclusion, that is, of the product of the act of inference in the strict sense” (42).
[b] Next, “we may also question the act of inference itself. Was the act in order? We distinguish valid from invalid inference schemata [sic] …. An inference rule such as Modus Ponens we know to be valid on the basis of our understanding of implication …. If it is not, if we have made a mistake in the application of the rule, we are not entitled to call it an act of inference: there is merely a purported act of inference … We thus see that implicit in our description of a mistake in inference the notion of rightness of the act …. We now see … a third role of truth: the rightness of the act …. [which] seems to capture the normative role of truth … (44).
[c] Thirdly, “Unlike truth and correctness, rightness does not have an equal conceptual counterpart, such as falsity or incorrectness. The opposite of rightness is APPEARANCE, a form of absence; here the contrast between appearance and reality is at stake …. Only when the act turns out not to be a true act of inference, we can say that it merely has a psychological value” (44-45).
Adapting a logico-linguistic critique of Ryle by Alan White (1971), let us end this second section by re-contextualising inference beyond its treatment by Twardowski and van der Schaar. To infer cannot be categorized as if it were identical with to judge or to think. It does not operate temporally as do the latter pair. Lucantonio could gradually or eventually come to think or judge something; he could ask Larisa or even himself to think or judge something and either of them may subsequently do so. Granted, Larisa may take a considerable time when subsequently thinking or judging whereas Lucantonio takes very little time to do so. But what Lucantonio cannot do is ask Larisa or himself to infer. In other words, to infer cannot be used within a first- or second-person imperative to issue a command or an instruction, an admonishment or a request.
Next, inference does not adhere to the same logical category as judgement or thought. It does not convey the same consequences as do the latter pair. Larisa can more or less explain Lucantonio’s actions, behaviour, or discourse by reference to his judgement or thought that something is (or is not) the case, but not because of his inference that something is or is not. Lucantonio can of course have the same thought or judgement repeatedly, but, just as he cannot repeat the same discovery, he cannot repeat the same inference. This holds although an inference, like a discovery, can be included as part of a reported theory. After all, reporting an inference is not an act of making an inference any more than repeating the report on various occasions is repeating the inference. In short, for Lucantonio to repeat his or another’s inference is not an act of inferring twice.
Although Larisa often infers from something previously or currently experienced, known, or perceived, an act of inferring is not the accomplishment or culmination of a task. She might vacillate between drawing inferences cautiously or rapidly yet often make them on justifiable grounds. For Lucantonio impatiently then to declare “You cannot infer that” is to deny her a logical right or to announce “You must not infer that” is to issue her a logical warning. But has he implicitly presumed here that to infer is a passage towards or a process of reaching a particular point of view? If so, he has misunderstood that to infer is to accept or adopt a point of view which seems to Larisa to explain past or present clues or evidence (but not argumentative premises) such that what she infers contrasts with what she already believes, experiences, or perceives. For example, we could envisage that Larisa might well say to Lucantonio, “From your continuing silence about Alyssa’s planned visit next weekend, I infer that you have no objections.” The reverse, by contrast, would not constitute an act of inferring, but rather an act of deducing a proposition or one of predicting an event: “From your lack of objections, I deduce—in fact, I predict—that you will remain silent.” Not all acts of reaching a conclusion are acts of inferring.
This final section begins with what contributors collectively understand by the third theme of the Brożek and Jadacki anthology, namely, the nature of the analytical movement. Consider Wolénski’s personal aside that his practice is “governed by analytic way[s] of doing philosophy” (51). This remark is made in the context of his realisation that “the majority of problems analyzed in the philosophy of science and the philosophy of language begin with a remark that, for example, we should distinguish science ([or] language) as an activity,” the “results and expressions” of which function “as products of related actions” (51). As summarised in the abstract to his third chapter, Richard pursues the problem of and alternatives to “two traditional conceptions of propositions in analytic philosophy” (79). Both conceptions postulate that propositions are “mind-independent entities,” and hence “intersubjectively sharable,” which operate as “the primary bearers of truth, the meanings of sentences and the objects of propositional attitudes” such as belief and doubt (79). Building an alternative principally based upon the theory of meaning promulgated by Roman Ingarden (1931 & 1937) (85-88; cf. Richard 2021, pp. 158-163), Richard concludes that it “should be confronted with the traditional problems faced by propositions” (91), leaving it open whether this invitation is mainly directed at analytical philosophers. Mariusz Grygianiec’s sixth chapter comprises an account of Tadeuz Czeżowski’s report in the early ‘fifties of how members of the Lvov-Warsaw School such as Kazimierz Ajdukiewicz, Tadeusz Kortarbiński, and Stanislaw Leśniewski understood “the issues of persistence and identity of objects through time” (125). Grygianiec’s investigation of the central debate over “the problem of internal change (whether qualitative or mereological)” makes only passing allusions to “analytical” philosophical references by Elizabeth Anscombe and Karl Popper in the ’fifties (131, n. 5 & 133, n. 7) and Roderick Chisholm and David Lewis in the ’seventies and ’eighties (125). On one interpretation of being “at the sources of the twentieth-century analytical movement,” none of the four represent the early movement in the ways, say, a Gottlob Frege, a Bertrand Russell or a Ludwig Wittgenstein did.
As hinted in our introduction, many contributions do not overtly explore the nature, let alone the sources, of the analytical movement. For example, the fourth chapter by Dariusz Łukasiewicz on Twardowski and methodological and ontological Psychologismus avoids labelling those discussed from Descartes onwards as analytical. Instead, he mentions “empiricist projects” and “German idealistic philosophy” (96 & 97), “phenomenologists” and “naturalists” (101 & 102). Arkadiusz Chrudzimski’s fifth chapter explores the formation of “idiogenetic” theories of emotions—that is, where emotion is regarded as a fundamental kind of mental phenomenon—in the thinking of Brentano and Anton Marty. Only when he draws comparisons with contemporary Anglo-American philosophers are “pragmatists and anti-realists” mentioned (116); Polish reception to different strands of pragmatic thinking associated with Charles Peirce and William James form the topic of Brożek’s eighth chapter (156ff.). The closing chapters—Ryszard Kleszcz on rationality (207ff.), Brożek again but selectively upon formal and informal logic amongst notable figures in the Lvov-Warsaw School (221ff.), and Marcin Będkowski on the pedagogical dimension connected with the latter—whilst discussing the role of logic and science do not explicitly examine the analytical movement as such.
The editors’ close their anthology with a lengthy appraisal of the significance of Twardowski in Poland and beyond. Before a bibliographical reckoning of Twardowski’s works and influence, their “Closing Word” begins by endorsing the opening paragraph of Betti (2014) (267). She ties Twardowski to Anglo-Germanic analytic philosophers in two ways. Firstly, the distinction in his 1894 thesis “between the content and the object of a presentation” within Brentano’s “theories of the intentionality of mental acts” is “a psychological, non-platonistic counterpart of Frege’s distinction between sense and reference.” Secondly, Twardowski “belonged to a tradition of non-idealistic German-language philosophy” originating with Bolzano and indirectly “influenced … Moore and Russell’s transition from idealism to analytic philosophy.” Subsequently, when rationalising membership of the Lvov-Warsaw “science school,” the editors quote a 2016 interview with Bogusław Wolniewicz, a politically controversial philosopher, who regards it as “determined by two factors”: an animating “common spirit” and an “‘apostolic succession’ … entered … only through contact with the master,” namely, Twardowski (276). What characterizes the analytical movement beyond any component schools adhering to it is left unsaid.
By now, the predominantly allusive character of contributors’ references summarised above suggests that “analytical movement” not only operated in highly heterogenous contexts. Possibly for that reason, it is also constantly attributed to individuals outside Poland such as Frege and Russell or, often more implicitly, to Polish individuals variably associated with the Lvov-Warsaw School such as Ajdukiewicz and Łukasiewicz. With that in mind, we might at first be tempted to resort etymologically to, say, the ancient Attic and Ionic Greek ἀνᾴλῠσις (an unloosening) or ᾀναλύω (to unloosen) in order to establish a commonality. Next, we may equally be tempted to collect lexical definitions of what “analysis” has typically come to signify no matter the domain of enquiry, for example, separating something into its component parts or tracing something to its source and thereby discovering the general principles underlying individual phenomena.
However, a more nuanced approach to dominant kinds of analysis beckons. When considering the formative years of analytical philosophy, especially debates in the early ‘thirties within the Cambridge School and the Vienna Circle, Michael Beany proposes that “three core modes of analysis” functioning singly or jointly can be discriminated (2000, p. 97). In chronological order of their deployment, the “regressive mode” aimed “to identify the ‘starting-points’ … by means of which something can be ‘explained’ or ‘generated’,” that is, a set of “first principles,” “premisses” or “causes” as the means of solving “a given problem (e.g. construct a particular geometrical figure, derive a particular conclusion or explain a particular fact)” (2000, p. 98). Secondly, the “decompositional mode” was “concerned to identify the components—as well as [logical] structure—of something” typically focused even nowadays upon the constituents of a concept or a proposition (2000, p. 98). Thirdly, the “interpretive mode,” which “emerges explicitly in the twentieth century,” is said to paraphrase or “‘translate’ something into a particular framework” (2000, p. 98). In other words, this mode of analysis “presupposes a particular framework of interpretation” and hence “preliminary work is done in interpreting what it is we are seeking to analyse … before we engage in other processes” leading us towards the “more fundamental” (2000, p. 98). Beany concludes:
there is an intricate and continually shifting web of conceptions of analysis involved here, which sometimes combine effectively and sometimes pull apart, and it is this complex and contested web that characterizes, and will continue to characterize, analytic philosophy. (2000, p. 114)
Perhaps this, in turn, underpins why Michael Potter amongst many others finds that “it is surprisingly hard to find a coherent cluster of views that would be subscribed to all those twentieth-century philosophers … taken to belong to the analytic tradition” (2008, p. 69).
Does the difficulty of unequivocally identifying a philosophical movement on the grounds of its pursuit of a distinctive set of topics, problems or methods lie elsewhere? The above-mentioned reaction against Germanic idealism, initially associated with Kant and Fichte, Schelling and Hegel, is one shared not only by the analytic and phenomenological movements, but also by the other two major philosophical movements pursued during the twentieth century, the marxist and the pragmatic. Nor are any of these philosophical movements confined to a specific location let alone a specific language. Occasionally, we find it convenient to talk of geographical and/or linguistic subsets of a movement such as Italian marxist philosophy; at other times, we label a movement by the name of the person initiating novel philosophical methods such as Descartes and his 1637 Discours de la méthode: Pour bien conduire sa raison, & chercher la verité dans les sciences.
That said, is it feasible to identify a philosophical movement by what it excludes rather than includes? Stephen Gaukroger, for example, nominates the failure to use history as a resource for philosophy when no longer “dealing with the pressing intellectual problems of the day—not least in science, religion, and politics” (2011, p. 423). He ends by mapping the twentieth-century terrain as follows:
philosophy, in both its analytic and phenomenological versions, has been shaped by a Kantian conception of philosophy as an a priori enterprise, exploring conceptual, by contrast with empirical, problems …. [T]he dominant view in the twentieth century has been that philosophy, at least in those areas considered to be its core, are self-contained …. And when it does engage with another discipline, such as science for example, it does it in the form of a ‘philosophy of science’, something that abstracts from and stands above the empirical content of science, and considers epistemological and methodological questions that are independent of whatever content the scientific theories have. (2011, pp. 423-424)
Also worth noting is that Gaukroger’s paper, not unlike Beany’s above, focuses upon homogenizing views that were particularly heightened entre-deux-guerres. The analytical movement, it seems, then decontextualised the content of past philosophy “as if the issues” predecessors engaged, “the reasons they had for raising them, the way they approached them, and the expected outcomes of philosophical enquiry, exactly matched modern concerns” (2011, pp. 407-408). Modern concerns were “considered timeless, deemed to have transcended the contingencies of their formulation,” and unhampered by “translation and transmission” (2011, p. 408). Whether all analytical and phenomenological projects, Twardowski’s included, can be similarly accused remains open to debate.
Finally, another kind of omission when accounting for twentieth-century philosophical movements is the role of institutional definitions. This has been overlooked by Brożek and Jadacki’s anthology, notwithstanding Twardowski’s third trajectory concerning intellectual collaboration and critique listed in our first section. Recognising, say, the analytical movement distinctively from an individual’s perspective might well prove problematic for someone being unaware that he or she had entered the terrain of that movement without a philosophical framework or theory to indicate it. Is part of the reason for this situation explicable by re-applying the stance taken by Arthur Danto (1964) before being reconceptualised by George Dickie (1974) with respect to the so-called “artworld”? Here, echoing Danto, the terrain is “constituted” as analytic by virtue of intentionally presented “theories” of or hypotheses about the analytical movement (1964, p. 572). That is, “one use of theories, in addition to helping us discriminate [the analytical] from the rest,” consists in making the analytical movement “possible” (1964, p. 572). Encountering a new class or category of topics, problems, or methods is “analogous to the discovery of a whole new class of facts anywhere, viz., as something for theoreticians to explain” (1964, p. 572). Indeed, the history of philosophical movements is marked by “conceptual” revolutions where a “widely credited theory is being threatened in such a way that all coherence goes” (1964, p. 573)—especially since evolving intellectual movements cannot be defined in terms of necessary and sufficient criteria. Theorists of philosophical movements have to relate their philosophical audience, community, or “world” to what the movement comprises by “an emphasis upon newly significant features” of what has previously been accepted and by providing “quite different accounts of their status” (1964, p. 573). It remains open to members of the philosophical audience, community or “world” to construe the theorist’s role historically or philosophically. To draw upon R.G. Collingwood’s familiar distinction, “In reading the historians, we ‘consult’ them” to cull knowledge we lack; when “reading the philosophers, we ‘follow’ them” to “understand what they think” and “reconstruct … the processes by which they have come to think it” (1933, p. 211). In other words, “What we demand of the historian is a product of his [or her] thought; what we demand of the philosopher is his [or her] thought itself” so that we commit ourselves to reconstructing “the same experience” the philosopher had intellectually engaged (1933, pp. 211-212).
Dickie mitigates Danto’s apparent circularity by reconstruing Danto’s appeal to a “world” as referring to “the broad social institution in which works … have their place” (1974, p. 29). This enables Dickie to accommodate the fact, also recognised by Gaukroger (2011), that the context of institutions varies, sometimes “associated” with “religion,” sometimes with “the state” (1974, p. 30). The expected roles of practitioners, audiences, and their venues are “defined by the traditions” developed within institutions “as an established way of doing and behaving” (1974, p. 30; cf. p. 36). So, whenever Dickie calls a “world” an institution, he is “saying that it is an established practice,” each of whose “systems has had its own origins and historical development” and “each of which furnishes an institutional background for the conferring of … status on objects within its domain” (1974, pp. 31 & 33). At least two conclusions relevant to philosophical movements follow. Firstly, there are no limits on the number of “systems” or traditions under a “generic conception” of philosophy; these, in turn, providing sufficient “elasticity” where “even the most radical” kind of “creativity … can be accommodated” (1974, p. 33). Secondly, the concept of “conferring status” need not be as clear as that within legal institutions “where procedures and lines of authority are explicitly defined and incorporated into law” (1974, p. 35). Counterparts in the “world” of philosophy “are nowhere codified,” yet “there is a practice and this defines a social institution” where “every person who sees [her- or] himself as a member … is thereby a member” who can potentially act on behalf of others (1974, pp. 35-36).
At the Sources of the Twentieth-Century Analytical Movement balances historical data and philosophical provocations for its Anglophone readership. Perhaps, apart from a thorough proofreading, a future re-issue of the collection would benefit by confronting what is meant by the notion of the “analytical movement.”
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