The Anal-lytic Philosopher

These vignettes emerged out of a larger project on transcendental philosophy, one that traces the development of certain strains of thought from Descartes to Merleau-Ponty.  They began as a reaction to some vague impressions about analytic philosophy, a relatively unfamiliar tradition to the present author, but one which he started to read again because, ostensibly, some of the themes being taken up in his current work had already been addressed by representatives of that tradition.  It seemed reasonable, then, to turn to these analytic philosophers for clarification and help.

Since it just won’t do to prejudice the reader by intimating content in a preface, let it only be said here that these vignettes represent both a development of those vague impressions and an expansion of them into legitimate topics in their own right; that they should be read, therefore, as both literary and philosophical, as though in the final analysis such a distinction exists.  As such, the vignettes are creative: they develop a more or less a single impression (hence the pervading metaphor) in the creation of a point of view, a position from which to view the ideas that are exposited substantially on their own and as supporting points along the way.  For this reason, except for the first two they are probably best read in the order in which they were written, as some of the ideas are developed sequentially, relying on one another as they take shape, even as this shape (hopefully!) gives the guiding metaphor a more vibrant life.  Taken as a whole they represent the final position more or less declared in the final chapter of the work.

As a final note it should be admitted that the efforts here, if not flout, at least disregard almost completely the established norms of professional argument.  This author finds those norms all but useless (no great philosopher, as far as he can tell, has ever established their creative work using them).  Without any pretensions to greatness here, these vignettes tread their own water as far as style goes, adopting as they do a blending of conversational familiarity with (again, hopefully!) conceptual clarity and argumentative rigor.  It’s just that “argumentative” here is understood in the sense of ‘implications of meaning developed in a coherent way’ instead of ‘implicit meanings exploited in a contest for position’—precisely the style this author finds so repulsive.  Hence the opening Dewey quote that should be seen as the foil for the whole approach.  The one from Foreigner should be seen as expressing the ironic reciprocity therein.

But enough said.  As far as the rest goes, enjoy!