I came across a reference to the postanalytic philosophy today, and I'm wondering what exactly that is. Is it related (if not it itself) to postmodern philosophy? What are the main ideas behind it? Which philosophers support this movement?

And if you have any book/article suggestions on it, I'd love to hear them too.


Wikipedia has an article titled postanalytic philosophy with the names of Quine, Davidson, Putnam, and Rorty given as examples. But I have not seen the term used much at all lately, it appears to be obsolete. The same names are often listed under logical pragmatism, together with Wittgenstein, and, with more names added, like Kuhn, Feyerabend and the Stanford Disunity Mafia, under postpositivism. Of these only Kuhn, Feyerabend and Rorty can be said to represent the analytic version of postmodernism. For Rorty's "creative" medley of pragmatism and continental postmodernism, which he termed "neo-pragmatism" and sometimes characterized as "post-philosophy", see e.g. Have any philosophers applied the concept of “underdetermination” to non-scientific contexts? Zammito's book referenced their is a nice critical review of "analytic postmodernism".

Even according to Wikipedia, "the term "postanalytic philosophy" itself has been used in a vaguely descriptive sense and not in the sense of a concrete philosophical movement". The term probably derives from Rajchman and West edited 1985 volume Post-Analytic Philosophy, which was inspired by Rorty. But it is clear now that they spoke too soon. "Postanalytic" philosophers are still commonly described as just analytic, and soon after the volume came out another major change came, the end of the linguistic turn, or at least the beginning of the end.

Language came to be seen as a disappointment as the master key to all philosophical mysteries, the first philosophy, and this downgraded the status of the initial insight of analytic philosophy derived from Frege and Russell, analysis of language. According to Burge, the focus shifted to philosophy of mind, the next "first philosophy". It would make more sense to call post-linguistic turn analytic philosophers "postanalytic", see Is it thought that analytic philosophy is in decline after the linguistic turn? (no).

  • Thanks, I thought the Wikipedia page wasn't very descriptive, so I came here. Your answer is better than Wikipedia ;) – Yechiam Weiss Jan 29 '18 at 8:23
  • By the way, I haven't heard of a "shift to philosophy of mind" - I always thought that the philosophy of language and philosophy of mind were examined distinctively, while the philosophy of mind (epistemology I assume) the "first philosophy" as you've said, and the philosophy of language as the "first ontological philosophy". – Yechiam Weiss Jan 29 '18 at 8:29
  • Look at Burge's historical essay referenced under the last link. "No other area of philosophy assumed quite the status that the philosophy of language had had since the 1950s. But the degree of interest in relatively "pure" philosophy of language has certainly diminished. Moreover, there has been a perceptible shift of ferment toward issues in the philosophy of mind. Some reasons for this change are internal to the subject. The discussions of meaning by Quine and Grice showed that there is a systematic interplay between meaning and propositional attitudes, like belief and intention." – Conifold Jan 29 '18 at 8:34
  • "Another internal reason was that some of the most difficult and persistent specific problems within the philosophy of language, accounting for Frege's puzzle about Hesperus and Phosphorus in the light of the new theory of reference, accounting for the cognitive value of demonstratives, giving an account of the truth conditions and logical form of sentences about propositional attitudes, explicating de re belief - all pointed toward the philosophy of mind... An external reason... was the rise of the computer paradigm... that had apparent significance for philosophical problems." – Conifold Jan 29 '18 at 8:34
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    @Dennis It seems to be derived from Rorty, and he apparently had something more ambitious than generic postpositivism in mind: radicalizing Wittgenstein and Quine, mixing in continental postmodernism, cultural politics in place of epistemology, etc. But it seems that the term never took in either narrow or broad sense. Rorty's broad "pragmatism" fared better. Brandom and Taylor adopted it and describe Wittgenstein, Sellars, Quine, Davidson, Putnam and Rorty as pragmatists (along with early Heidegger). Glock calls Quine and Davidson "logical pragmatists". – Conifold Jan 30 '18 at 0:03

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