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Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century, Volume 1: The Dawn of Analysis: The Dawn of Analysis v. 1 Paperback – 30 Jan 2005

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Winner of the 2003 Award for Best Professional/Scholarly Book in Philosophy, Association of American Publishers
One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2004

"I know of no sustained philosophical work that is as clear, deep, and incisive as these two volumes. There are several other excellent books on twentieth-century analytic philosophy, but Soames's is likely to become the standard. His ability to reconstruct arguments, to fill in inchoate arguments, and to detect what may have motivated or underlain some philosopher's position is amazing. . . . These are superb volumes by a superb philosopher."--A. P. Martinich, Journal of the History of Philosophy

"The writing and the organization are admirably clear and straightforward, exhibiting many of the virtues Soames claims for the tradition as a whole. . . . It is hard to imagine another work being produced which would deliver so much solid information on this dense and difficult subject matter in such easy form."--Charles T. Mathewes, Virginia Quarterly Review

"Because of its combination of sympathetic, illuminating exposition of the central doctrines and arguments of the analytic tradition and the hard-nosed critical evaluation to which they are subjected, this will surely be the standard history of analytic philosophy for many years to come."--Choice

Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century is a marvelous introduction to analytic philosophy. The two volumes unfold as a series of studies of some of the most important and influential philosophers in the analytic tradition. . . . It is a philosopher's history of analytic philosophy, with a careful and critical assessment of ideas about truth, morality, logic, mind, and meaning."--Alex Byrne and Ned Hall, Boston Review

From the Back Cover

"A history of analytic philosophy and an excellent piece of analytic philosophy in its own right. We can all benefit from Soames's discussion of the central issues that have shaped the subject and his assessment of what we have achieved and where we might have gone wrong."--Kit Fine, New York University

"This monumental study is a careful assessment of the successes and the failures of twentieth-century analytic philosophy. Soames displays unfailingly sound judgment throughout. The work is invaluable to those of us who have contributed to this period of very recent history of thought, and more importantly, to our students who will build upon the triumphs and will profit from the defeats of ourselves and our predecessors, carrying philosophy forward into the new millennium. The work is also a comprehensive reality check in the face of persistent accusations (coming not only from those who do not understand analytic philosophy, but also from those who remain stuck in its recent failures) that analytic philosophy is a disease or a futile exercise in wheel spinning. Analytic philosophy is, and has always been, a rational quest for knowledge and understanding. Its tools are clarification, argument, and tutored intuition. Soames provides perspective concerning the best of recent philosophical thought, articulating its most important developments, dead ends, and discoveries."--Nathan Salmon, University of California, Santa Barbara

"Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century is a critical examination of key texts and trends in analytic philosophy by one of its leading contemporary practitioners. Soames has applied his formidable forensic talents to highlight the insights and expose the errors of the major figures from Moore to Kripke. These two volumes are an essential resource for any serious student of analytic philosophy."--Alex Byrne, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"Together these two volumes constitute an outstanding contribution to the field. They present the views and arguments of the major philosophers of the period with unmatched clarity and subject them to deep and critical scrutiny. In my view there is no other work on the history of twentieth-century century analytic philosophy that matches it in its scope, depth, and elegance."--Ali Kazmi, University of Calgary

"This is an extraordinarily impressive piece of work. It will be very valuable to capable, advanced undergraduates, and I expect it to be used widely in graduate courses and discussed frequently by scholars. It provides a substantive vision of how and where real progress has been made by philosophers in the analytic tradition, as well as how and why analytic philosophy sometimes took a step backward. Soames himself is doing cutting-edge work in core areas of analytic philosophy and is thus able to bring a level of philosophical sophistication to his treatment that few have available to them."--John Hawthorne, Rutgers University

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 7 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Excellent 21 May 2006
By TiZ - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is the first of Scott Soames's two-volume history of analytic philosophy. Together these volumes illuminate the most important developments in metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of language and ethics from 1900 until 1975. In this volume the contributions of Moore, Russell, Wittgenstein and Quine, among others, are covered. The second volume covers more of the contributions of Wittgenstein and Quine, and the contributions of Ryle, Grice, Davidson and Kripke, among others.
Soames carefully explains the theories of these philosophers, and clearly sets forth their arguments. He critically evaluates their arguments, showing their successes and their failures. The volumes are also very well organised, with each chapter including a nice outline and each part concluding with suggestions for further reading. What emerges is a work that is comprehensive and detailed, insightful and original.
As Soames explains, some important philosophers are not covered and some material from the philosophers that are covered is not discussed. These volumes are also controversial for not engaging with the secondary literature and for some of the interpretations offered; some of the debate can be followed online.
The intended audience of these volumes is primarily upper-level undergraduates, graduates and professional philosophers. While Soames would also like others to gain from these volumes, I think that those who have not had some exposure to analytic philosophy will find them difficult. As a graduate student in philosophy, these volumes have been of great help to me, filling in some major gaps in my education.
I think that Soames's volumes will illuminate the classics of analytic philosophy for generations of philosophers and philosophy students, and may become classics themselves. I highly recommend both volumes.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Excellent summation of key philosophic trends 27 Jun. 2006
By Benjamin Bayer - Published on
Format: Paperback
I wish I'd had a book like this to read when I was an undergraduate in philosophy. It would have put so much more of the material I was studying at the time in context. Soames has selected the essential figures of the first half of the 20th century, together with their essential arguments, and explained their significance. His explanations are at once accessible to the layman, but also satisfying to the professional interested in the details of important arguments.

Of particular interest, I believe, is Soames recounting of the most basic points behind Russell's axiomatization of arithmetic, and explaining its philosophical significance in its era. Other introductory texts assert that this was done; few give us just enough of the axioms themselves, together with simple examples of their use in proving arithmetical propositions, together with their reduction to logic and set theory.

I do have minor gripes about the text, but they are small in comparison to the above. First, I would like to have seen a chapter on Frege. Soames' skills as an expositor would be well-suited to this task. When other philosophers (like Michael Dummett) have gone so far as to say that Frege was the fountainhead of the analytic movement, I would like too see how other philosophers with historical expertise approach the question.

Also one or two minor gripes about interpretation. On pages 402-404, Soames seems to say that Quine is some kind of phenomenalist, who thinks observation sentences report private sense experiences. Surely the bulk of evidence concerning Quine's views about observation sentences contradicts this. While Quine does think that impacts on our nerve endings help constitute the "stimulus meaning" of observation sentences, he does not think that these sentences are understood as referring to sense data. Observation sentences are about physical objects, like "Rabbit!"

But this aside, I've already purchased Volume II, and I'm looking forward to the learning experience.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Overview 2 Aug. 2006
By Reader From Aurora - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century: The Dawn of Analysis is the first of Scott Soames' two volume series on 20th century analytic philosophy.

This is the best overview of analytic philosophy that I have come across. In Vol. 1 Soames discusses Moore, Russell, Early-Wittgenstein, Ross and Quine. He provides insight regarding the context within which these thinkers wrote, as well as an overview and assessment of their key works/ideas. With regard to this latter point, I general found his focus appropriate and his commentary to be clear and even-handed. A particular strength was the discussion of Russell. Russell can at times seem arcane - Soames handles his work especially well. I agree with an earlier reader that the inclusion of Frege would have been helpful.

I recommend Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century: The Dawn of Analysis highly to all readers of analytic philosophy. I found it very helpful when recently re-reading Moore and Wittgenstein. Although the text can be classified as an overview/introduction, some background in philosophy is probably required to maximize its' value.
8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Competent chronology with philosophical commentary 18 Jan. 2006
By John Harpur - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is good chronological account of the development of primarily early Anglo-American philosophy in last century. If you already have a background in the area, I doubt it will add anything new to your understanding. This isn't a negative, it is merely my opinion that the book's rigid adherence to chronology precludes a decent provocative synthesis of the work of the period. The last section covers Quine's contributions and, apart from berating Grice and Strawson's attempted rebuttal of Quine's positions on language, is a little bit too uncritical. For a final year undergraduate or a aspirng postgraduate, this book (and its companion volume) is very useful. However, there are other histories of philosophy around that covere the same period with more panache. It is a personal opinion at the end of the day.
An example of how ebooks should not be presented 9 Dec. 2013
By Ronald Fernandez - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I did not give Soames book a five star rating because of the digital presentation which I requested. Not fair to the author but a reminder to the publishers of ebooks, that are not careful enough to present a decent format that is readable and decent looking. I say this because I also own the author's second volume which has an impeccable print out, with clearly separated paragraphs and bold face emphasis on crucial topics or arguments. And I just don't see why the digital version could not at least be improved. As for the content of this work, one just could not get better. Soames is a thorough reviewer of linguistic philosophy and an outstanding analytic philosopher in his own right.
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