Volume 6, 2000
Analytic Philosophy and Logic
The Undefinability of Analytic Philosophy
Many attempts have been made to define analytic philosophy in a nonhistorical or otherwise deictic way, and to provide a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for a piece of philosophical work to be part of analytic philosophy. This is more difficult than might appear, for the conditions appealed to are normative and must be claimed by non-analytic philosophers to apply to their production as well. In fact, no such set of conditions has been forthcoming, and it is unlikely that it ever will. Instead, I offer a holistic characterization of analytic philosophy as a mode of organization of philosophical work modeled on science. This accounts for analytic philosophy’s success in the academic world, its pedagogic virtues, and its ability to expand beyond its initial boundaries. Two related questions remain: one about the indirect justification analytic philosophy might be granted from outside of philosophy, the other about its ability to make contact with cultural realms other than those with which it has until now established a fruitful exchange. The answers are crucial for the potential renewal of analytic philosophy.