My aim in the introductory part of these lectures was to work out a question which can be regarded as a fundamental question of language-analytical philosophy. At the same time the language-analytical conception of philosophy was to be confronted with other philosophical positions and we were to examine whether, and if so how, it can be justified vis-à-vis these other positions. And this involved also discussing the idea of philosophy in general.
The fact that this has not yielded a unitary conception of philosophy is no disadvantage. The object of such reflections is to get clear about the different possibilities of understanding something (in our case the idea of a ‘pre-eminent science’) and about how these different possibilities are related to one another. Which of these one then calls ‘philosophy’ is a secondary matter. Essentially we have become acquainted with three ways in which ‘philosophy’ could be understood. Firstly, on the basis of the discussions of the first lecture, one could designate ‘philosophy’ all elucidation of prior understanding, all clarification of concepts or meanings. Such enquiry would be a ‘pre-eminent’ enquiry inasmuch as it concerns the understanding-presuppositions of direct, non-reflective knowledge and enquiry.
Secondly, from our examination of the Aristotelian introduction there emerged a conception of philosophy as a universal formal science, which is to be understood as formal semantics.
The first of these two conceptions of philosophy represents a vague, but indispensable, methodological conception of language-analytical philosophy. By contrast the second conception has clear thematic contours and a definite fundamental question. It represents, if one holds on to the first, broad conception of language-analytical philosophy, the ground-discipline of language-analytical philosophy. It contains a question which, vis-à-vis questions in accordance with the first conception, is ‘pre-eminent’; for it concerns the universal presuppositions of all understanding.
The conceptions of philosophy as ontology and as transcendental philosophy have shown themselves to be inadequate approximations to the second conception of philosophy. In so far as transcendental philosophy contains elements which point beyond this conception these elements can themselves only be clarified by linguistic analysis (Lecture 6), thus by means of a procedure in accordance with the first conception of philosophy.