Wittgenstein’s Place in Twentieth-Century Analytic Philosophy

Philosophical Review 108 (3):449 (1999)
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Originally conceived as a forty-page conclusion to Hacker’s twenty years of work on the monumental four-volume Analytical Commentary on the Philosophical Investigations, this book “rapidly assumed a life of its own”. A major contribution to the history of analytic philosophy, this substantial volume delivers even more than the title promises. The eight chapters are best approached as a six-chapter book, itself some 220 pages long, on Wittgenstein’s contribution to twentieth-century philosophy, followed by a two-chapter, 120-page epilogue about how and why his influence has waned. The first six chapters provide an encyclopedic summary of the fruits of Hacker’s research on Wittgenstein’s writing, an immensely learned account of British philosophy from the turn of the century to the 1970s, and a detailed account of Wittgenstein’s reception by Oxford, Cambridge, and the Vienna Circle. The book’s closing chapters, “Post-positivism in the United States and Quine’s Apostasy” and “The Decline of Analytic Philosophy,” polemically argue that Quine’s philosophy, and the post-Quinean naturalism prevalent in Anglo-American philosophy today, amount to such a decisive break with the analytic tradition, as Hacker conceives of it, that they should not be counted as “analytic.”



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Author Profiles

P. M. S. Hacker
Oxford University
David G. Stern
University of Iowa

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