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In researching the origin and purpose of the Analytical Tradition in philosophy, all that appeared was that it traces its origin to the 'Tractatus' offshoots following Wittgenstein and Russell, and perhaps to the aftermath of the Vienna Circle with Carnap, etc. The only other information explained that it is often termed 'the linguistic turn' and is considered to be a subset or tangent of Mathematics. As a discipline within the practice of philosophical enquiry in what does its practice and purpose consist?

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  • AP predates Tractatus, and is usually traced in the modern incarnation to Frege and Russell-Moore (some consider the differences b/w Aristotle and Plato, Kant and Hegel, etc., to be already of analytic/continental kind). Linguistic turn is not specific to AP, it was paralleled on the continental side, but attention to science and striving for precision in reasoning (albeit not quite mathematical) are typical traits. See IEP, Analytic Philosophy for a survey and historical sketch. – Conifold Oct 19 '20 at 19:27
  • Thanks Conifold will do. Regards, – user37981 Oct 20 '20 at 2:41
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You can see: Michael Dummett, Origins of Analytical Philosophy (1993).

And see some fundamental statements from Russell:

"The topics we discussed [...] all reduce themselves, in so far as they are genuinely philosophical, to problems of logic. This is not due to any accident, but to the fact that every philosophical problem, when it is subjected to the necessary analysis and purification, is found either to be not really philosophical at all, or else to be, in the sense in which we are using the word, logical."

"The business of philosophy, as I conceive it, is essentially that of logical analysis, followed by logical synthesis. [...] The most important part [of the business of philosophy], to my mind, consists in criticizing and clarifying notions which are apt to be regarded as fundamental and accepted uncritically."

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  • Tuto Grazie Brother – user37981 Oct 20 '20 at 16:34
  • @CharlesMSaunders - you are welcome. – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Oct 20 '20 at 17:07
  • The review of Dummett's book here also has some interesting observations about the origins of analytic philosophy. – Hypnosifl Mar 19 at 18:37
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Analytic philosophy can be argued to have diverged from the Continental tradition with logical positivism and the Vienna Circle. Which Wittgenstein was associated with, and is considered to have done some of the most important work to develop, with his Tractatus. The 'linguistic turn' is considered to have begun to the influence of his later work, primarily the Philosophical Investigations, which turned away from focusing on formal logic. In some ways this provide a basis for common concerns between the traditions, but in practice a cultural divergence about the proper concerns for philosophy remain.

Among his later work Wittgenstein said:

“I then thought: what is the use of studying philosophy if all that it does for you is to enable you to talk with some plausibility about some abstruse questions of logic, etc, & if it does not improve your thinking about the important questions of everyday life, if it does not make you more conscientious than any… journalist in the use of the DANGEROUS phrases such people use for their own ends.” (Quoted in The Duty of Genius p424. In response to a casual phrase about national characters varying)

“The confusions which occupy us arise when language is like an engine idling, not when it is doing work.” (Investigations §132)

Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of our language.” (Philosophical Investigations §109)

This can be seen as outlining Ordinary Language Philosophy, maintaining the focus on logic, but broadening to consideration of how language is used outside of academic contexts. This should be contrasted with both existential thinkers from Nietzsche onwards, and those who take Hegel and/or Marx as primary influences, as I see it. In practice, outside of a historical context, the division is often problematic, with for instance Rorty explicitly challenging it in the context of Pragmatism.

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