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  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: September 2009

7 - Logic as the essence of philosophy

Summary

Structure is central to logical form and logical analysis. Wittgenstein held that “It was Russell who performed the service of showing that the apparent logical form of a proposition need not be its real one” (TLP 4.0031). This overreaches. The notion is also found in Frege's analysis of cardinal number and in the work of many others. Russell's 1905 theory of definite descriptions simply offered a new tool for research. It was certainly an important tool. Ramsey aptly described the theory of definite descriptions as “a paradigm of philosophy.” But what is logical form? What precisely was Russell's paradigm?

According to Russell's conception of philosophy, metaphysical conundrums arise because ordinary (and quasi-scientific) notions such as “space,” “time,” “matter,” “motion,” “limit,” “continuity,” “change,” and the like are hybrid notions whose logico-semantic components have not been separated from their empirical/physical components. Analytic philosophy aims at a separation of these components, accomplished by means of a logical analysis running side by side with advancements and empirical discoveries in physical science. In the process, a new more exacting account of the world emerges. Abandoning the ontological speculations of philosophers working in darkness, the new theory offers a reconceptualization of the issues involved and a solution of philosophical problems.

Consider the following statement:

(P) The temperature of O is 98 degrees and rising.

We all know what this means – in some sense of “knowing meaning.” But we are equally unclear what ontology its truth commits us to.

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