THE FATE OF ANALYSIS, #27–Carnap Before and After the Tractatus.

By Robert Hanna

THE FATE OF ANALYSIS: Analytic Philosophy From Frege to The Ash-Heap of History



II. Classical Analytic Philosophy

II.1 What Classical Analytic Philosophy Is: Two Basic Theses

II.2 What Classical Analytic Philosophy Officially Isn’t: Its Conflicted Anti-Kantianism

II.3 Classical Analytic Philosophy Characterized in Simple, Subtler, and Subtlest Ways

II.4 Three Kinds of Analysis: Decompositional, Transformative, and Conceptual

II.5 Frege, The First Founding Father of Classical Analytic Philosophy

II.6 Frege’s Project of (Transformative or Reductive) Analysis

II.7 Frege’s Dead End

II.8 Frege’s Semantics of Sense and Reference, aka Meaning

II.9 Some Biggish Problems For Frege’s Semantics

II.10 Husserl, Logic, and Logical Psychologism, aka LP

II.11 What LP is, and its Three Cardinal Sins

II.12 Husserl’s Three Basic Arguments Against LP

II.13 Has Husserl Begged the Question Against LP? Enter The Logocentric Predicament, and a Husserlian Way Out

II. Moore, Brentano, Husserl, Judgment, Anti-Idealism, and Meinong’s World

III.1 G.E. Moore, the Second Founding Father of Classical Analytic Philosophy

III.2 Brentano on Phenomenology, Mental Phenomena, and Intentionality

III.3 Husserl on Phenomenology and Intentionality

III.4 Moore and the Nature of Judgment

III.5 Moore and the Refutation of Idealism

III.6 Meinong’s World

IV. Russell, Unlimited Logicism, Acquaintance, and Description

IV.1 Russell Beyond Brentano, Husserl, Moore, and Meinong

IV.2 Russell and Mathematical Logic versus Kant

IV.3 Russell’s Unlimited Logicist Project

IV.4 Pursued by Logical Furies: Russell’s Paradox Again

IV.5 Russell’s ‘Fido’-Fido Theory of Meaning

IV.6 Knowledge-by-Acquaintance and Knowledge-by-Description

IV.7 Russell’s Theory of Descriptions

IV.8 Russell’s Multiple-Relation Theory of Judgment

IV.9 Russellian Analysis, Early Wittgenstein, and Impredicativity Again

IV.10 Russell and The Philosophy of Logical Atomism

V. Wittgenstein and the Tractatus 1: The Title, and Propositions 1–2.063

V.1 A Brief Synopsis of the Tractatus

V.2 The Tractatus in Context

V.3 The Basic Structure of the Tractatus: A Simple Picture

V.4 Tractarian Ontology

V.5 Reconstructing Wittgenstein’s Reasoning

V.6 What Are the Objects or Things?

V.7 The Role of Logic in Tractarian Ontology

V.8 Colorless Objects/Things

V.9 Tractarian Ontology, Necessity, and Contingency

V.10 Some Initial Worries, and Some Possible Wittgensteinian Counter-Moves

VI. Wittgenstein and the Tractatus 2: Propositions 2.013–5.55

VI.1 What is Logical Space? What is Real Space?

VI.2 Atomic Facts Necessarily Are in Manifest or Phenomenal Space, But Objects or Things Themselves Necessarily Aren’t in Manifest or Phenomenal Space

VI.3 Logical Space is Essentially More Comprehensive than Manifest or Phenomenal Space

VI.4 Why There Can’t/Kant Be a Non-Logical World

VI.5 A Worry About Wittgenstein’s Conception of Logic: Non-Classical Logics

VI.6 What is a Tractarian Proposition?

VI.7 Naming Objects or Things, and Picturing Atomic Facts

VI.8 Signs, Symbols, Sense, Truth, and Judgment

VI.9 Propositions Again

VI.10 Language and Thought

VII. Wittgenstein and the Tractatus 3: Propositions 4–5.61

VII.1 The Logocentric Predicament, Version 3.0: Justifying Deduction

VII.2 The Logical Form of Deduction

VII.3 Logic Must Take Care of Itself

VII.4 Tautologies and Contradictions

VII.5 What is Logic?

VII.6 Logic is the A Priori Essence of Language

VII.7 Logic is the A Priori Essence of Thought

VII.8 Logic is the A Priori Essence of the World

VIII. Wittgenstein and the Tractatus 4: Propositions 5.62–7

VIII.1 Tractarian Solipsism and Tractarian Realism

VIII.2 Tractarian Solipsism

VIII.3 Tractarian Realism

VIII.4 Is the Tractatus’s Point an Ethical One?

VIII.5 The Meaning of Life

VIII.6 Three Basic Worries About the Tractatus

VIII.7 Natural Science and the Worry About the Simplicity of the Objects or Things

VIII.8 Natural Science and the Worry About the Logical Independence of Atomic Facts

VIII.9 Tractarian Mysticism and the Worry About Metaphilosophy

IX. Carnap, The Vienna Circle, Logical Empiricism, and The Great Divide

IX.1 Carnap Before and After the Tractatus

IX.2 Carnap, The Vienna Circle, and The Elimination of Metaphysics

IX.3 The Verifiability Principle and Its Fate

IX.4 The Davos Conference and The Great Divide

X. Wittgenstein and the Investigations 1: Preface, and §§1–27

X.1 From the Tractatus to the Investigations

X.2 The Thesis That Meaning Is Use

X.3 A Map of the Investigations

X.4 The Critique of Pure Reference: What the Builders Did

XI. Wittgenstein and the Investigations 2: §§28–242

XI.1 The Picture Theory and the Vices of Simplicity

XI.2 Wittgenstein’s Argument Against The Picture Theory: A Rational Reconstruction

XI.3 Understanding and Rule-Following

XI.4 Wittgenstein’s Rule-Following Paradox: The Basic Rationale

XI.5 Wittgenstein’s Rule-Following Paradox: A Rational Reconstruction

XI.6 Kripkenstein’s Rule-Following Paradox: Why Read Kripke Too?

XI.7 Kripkenstein’s Rule-Following Paradox: A Rational Reconstruction

XI.8 How to Solve The Paradox: Wittgenstein’s Way and Kripkenstein’s Way

XI.8.1 Wittgenstein and The Rule-Following Paradox: A Rational Reconstruction

XI.8.2 Kripkenstein and The Rule-Following Paradox: A Rational Reconstruction

XII. Wittgenstein and the Investigations 3: §§242–315

XII.1 What is a Private Language?

XII.2 The Private Language Argument: A Rational Reconstruction

XII.3 Is Wittgenstein a Behaviorist? No.

XII.4 Wittgenstein on Meanings, Sensations, and Human Mindedness: A Rational Reconstruction

XIII. Wittgenstein and the Investigations 4: §§316–693 & 174e-232e

XIII.1 Linguistic Phenomenology

XIII.2 Two Kinds of Seeing

XIII.3 Experiencing the Meaning of a Word

XIII.4 The Critique of Logical Analysis, and Logic-As-Grammar

XIV. Coda: Wittgenstein and Kantianism

XIV.1 World-Conformity 1: Kant, Transcendental Idealism, and Empirical Realism

XIV.2 World-Conformity 2: Wittgenstein, Transcendental Solipsism, and Pure Realism

XIV.3 World-Conformity 3: To Forms of Life

XIV.4 The Critique of Self-Alienated Philosophy 1: Kant’s Critical Metaphilosophy

XIV.5 The Critique of Self-Alienated Philosophy 2: Wittgensteinian Analysis as Critique

XV. From Quine to Kripke and Analytic Metaphysics: The Adventures of the Analytic-Synthetic Distinction

XV.1 Two Urban Legends of Post-Empiricism

XV.2 A Very Brief History of The Analytic-Synthetic Distinction

XV.3 Why the Analytic-Synthetic Distinction Really Matters

XV.4 Quine’s Critique of the Analytic-Synthetic Distinction, and a Meta-Critique

XV.5 Three Dogmas of Post-Quineanism

XVI. Analytic Philosophy and The Ash-Heap of History

XVI.1 Husserl’s Crisis and Our Crisis

XVI.2 Why Hasn’t Post-Classical Analytic Philosophy Produced Any Important Ideas in the Last Thirty-Five Years?

XVI.3 On Irad Kimhi’s Thinking and Being, Or, It’s The End Of Analytic Philosophy As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

XVI.4 Thinking Inside and Outside the Fly-Bottle: The New Poverty of Philosophy and Its Second Copernican Revolution


But you can also read or download a .pdf version of the complete book HERE.


IX. Carnap, The Vienna Circle, Logical Empiricism, and The Great Divide

Rudolf Carnap (1891–1970)

IX.1 Carnap Before and After the Tractatus

At the same time, during Wittgenstein‘s “silent decade” — interestingly comparable to and contrastible with Kant’s own “silent decade” between the early 1770s and the early 1780s — Carnap was discovering his own philosophical voice.

Falling into what will by now no doubt seem like a familiar pattern, and indeed very like Russell, Carnap started his philosophical career as a neo-Kantian philosopher of the foundations of geometry:

I studied Kant‘s philosophy with Bruno Bauch in Jena. In his seminar, the Critique of Pure Reason was discussed in detail for an entire year. I was strongly impressed by Kant‘s conception that the geometrical structure of space is determined by our forms of intuition. The after-effects of this influence were still noticeable in the chapter on the space of intuition in my dissertation, Der Raum [published in 1922]…. Knowledge of intuitive space I regarded at the time, under the influence of Kant and the neo-Kantians, especially Natorp and Cassirer, as based on “pure intuition,” and independent of contingent experience.[i]

It’s not altogether irrelevant that Bauch was virulently anti-semitic and eventually a Nazi;[ii] whereas Carnap was an anti-fascist, a universalist, an egalitarian, and at least while he still lived in Europe, also a radical socialist.

So seems to me quite possible that Carnap’s sharp moral and political disagreements with his former teacher also primed his officially anti-Kantian and anti-neo-Kantian turn by the late 1920s and early 30s.[iii]

In any case, Carnap’s progress away from Kant‘s metaphysics and neo-Kantianism more generally, followed the familiar dual pattern for Analytic philosophers of treating post-Kantian developments in the exact sciences as refutations of basic Kantian theses, and replacing transcendental idealism with philosophical logic.

By the early 1930s, Carnap had been heavily influenced by the Theory of Relativity and by the close study of Frege‘s writings, along with the Russell‘s and Whitehead‘s Principia, Russell‘s Our Knowledge of the External World, and above all the Tractatus.

Carnap‘s intellectual ferment was expressed in two important books, The Logical Structure of the World (Logische Aufbau der Welt) (1928), and The Logical Syntax of Language (1934).

The Aufbau played a crucial variation on Russell‘s platonistic conception of philosophical analysis by turning it into constructive empiricism, which can be glossed as follows:

The natural world as a whole is the object of analysis. But the simples out of which the world is logically constructed are not Really Real mind-independent substances, but instead nothing but subjective streams of experience and a single fundamental relation, the recollection of similarity.

Correspondingly, Logical Syntax converts Wittgenstein‘s transcendental and activist conception of analysis into logico-linguistic conventionalism, which can be glossed this way:

There is no One True Logic, just as there is no One True Natural Language, but instead there as many distinct logical languages as there are formal symbolic calculi constructed on the models of the Begriffsschrift and Principia, plus distinct axiom-systems, or distinct sets of logical constants, or distinct notions of logical consequence; and the choice of precisely which logical language is to be adopted as the basis of the exact sciences is purely a pragmatic matter (whether voluntaristic or social) having nothing to do with logic itself.

The overall result is that Kant‘s transcendental turn from the apparent or manifestly world to a set of a priori world-structures that are (according, at least, to the strong versions of Kant’s transcendental idealism) imposed on phenomenal appearances by our innate spontaneous cognitive capacities, is replaced by Carnap with the linguistic turn[iv] from the apparent world to a set of a priori world-structures that are imposed on those phenomenal appearances by the syntax and semantics of our logical and natural languages.

Needless to say however, even after the linguistic turn, the gambit of imposing a priori logico-linguistic structures on phenomenal appearances remains basically a neo-Kantian and thereby (arguably, again depending on your interpretation of Kant’s metaphysics) also a Kantian move.[v]

Indeed, the very same Carnapian fusion of pure logic and epistemological neo-Kantianism is vividly evident in C. I. Lewis‘s Mind and the World Order (1929) and Nelson Goodman‘s The Structure of Appearance (1951/1966).


[ii] See, e.g., H. Sluga, Heidegger’s Crisis: Philosophy and Politics in Nazi Germany (Harvard: Harvard Univ. Press, 1993), esp. ch. 4.

[iii] See, e.g., M. Friedman, A Parting of the Ways: Carnap, Cassirer, and Heidegger (La Salle: Open Court, 2000), esp. ch. 5.

[iv] See R. Rorty (ed.), The Linguistic Turn (Chicago, IL: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1967), esp. the Editor‘s Introduction, pp. 1–39.

[v] See, e.g., A. Richardson, Carnap and the Construction of the World (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1998).


Mr Nemo, W, X, Y, & Z, Monday 23 November 2020

Against Professional Philosophy is a sub-project of the online mega-project Philosophy Without Borders, which is home-based on Patreon here.

Please consider becoming a patron!

Formerly Captain Nemo. A not-so-very-angry, but still unemployed, full-time philosopher-nobody.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store