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The Ontology of the Analytic Tradition and Its Origins: Realism and Identity in Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, and Quine
Free book download. Corrected to 2003. Seven recommendations. Over 535 paper copies sold. Over 1,000 reads here. PRAISE 1: "Jan Dejnožka is one of the leading figures in current discussions of the origin, development, and nature of analytic philosophy. His many works -- two books and numerous articles -- have received much attention. They are noteworthy for their depth and erudition. The Ontology of the Analytic Tradition has achieved, deservedly, the status of a classic in that area. I regard this book as a most important contribution to our understanding of the course of analytic philosophy from Frege to Quine, as well as to our philosophical understanding of the topics mentioned in its title. " --Panayot Butchvarov. PRAISE 2: "Dejnožka's account is at once comprehensive and detailed, historically accurate and philosophically acute, profound and clear. Those interested in the metaphysical foundations of analytic philosophy will find it very useful. So will ontologists generally." --Stewart Umphrey. PRAISE 3: "This work is simultaneously a scholarly investigation and interpretation of four of the most important thinkers in the analytic tradition, and a sustained critique of contemporary relativisms. Dejnožka argues that not only Frege and Russell, but such 'antimetaphysical' philosophers as Wittgenstein and Quine do in fact have metaphysical commitments which can be traced not only to Russell and Frege, but to a long and distinguished tradition within Western philosophy. This is a provocative and challenging reading of the analytic tradition." --Evan Fales. PRAISE 4: "Dejnožka's superb expertise on Frege and Russell inevitably must be stressed. But his book is not 'mere history'; there are many sharp criticisms of major contemporaries." --José Benardete. FROM PUBLISHED REVIEW 1: "A desirable feature of the book is that the Preface and Introduction provide the reader with a clear statement of the overall plan of the work, together with the major concepts and distinctions which will be used throughout. Consequently the reader knows, at any point, exactly where he/she is in the development of the main argument. Combined with a precise, transparent style of writing, the book is a treat to read. Particularly impressive are the novel insights and deeper interpretations which the author gives of the four analysts.... An extensive bibliography and reasonably comprehensive index round off a fine thought-provoking piece of research." --Wayne A. Patterson, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 75/4, December 1997, 543-44. FROM PUBLISHED REVIEW 2: "[W]hat is still rightly regarded as the analytic tradition has indeed not only turned back to more traditional metaphysical concerns..., but also taken an interest, self-reflectively, in its own historical roots, with the expectation of uncovering metaphysical conceptions at work....Jan Dejnožka's book is a fine example of this historically motivated return to metaphysics, offering a detailed and scholarly elucidation of the ontological views of Frege and Russell...." --Michael Beaney, International Journal of Philosophical Studies 6/3, October 1998, 451-54. FROM PUBLISHED REVIEW 3: "Throughout the text, Dejnožka exhibits both a broad appreciation of ontological issues, and an even deeper appreciation of the primary and secondary literature.... In conclusion, it is more than fair to say that Dejnožka offers a daring re-reading of the analytic tradition which, if it stands in the face of scholarly criticism, could force both a long overdue reassessment of how analytic philosophy since Frege relates to the historical and contemporary continental traditions, and a reconsideration of the prevailing analytic conception of metaphysics as dependent on semantics.... [M]any challenging ideas and innovative interpretations await the earnest reader on each page." --Bob Barnard, Bertrand Russell Society Quarterly 100, November 1998, 33-35. FROM PUBLISHED REVIEW 4: "This is a very ambitious book, executed with intelligence and argumentative skill." --Arthur Falk, Russell n.s. 18, Winter 1998-99, 161-74. FROM PUBLISHED REVIEW 5: "[S]cholarly and detailed....Analysts and relativists might very well use it to hone their own conceptions." --Jack Kaminsky, International Studies in Philosophy 35/4, 2003, 221-22. FROM PUBLISHED REVIEW 6: "There are surprisingly few books that would take a synthesizing view of analytical philosophy. However, it is also true that in the second half of our century the body of philosophers who either avow analytical philosophy or tend to be included in the number of its representatives exhibit a degree of heterogeneity which makes any synthesis problematic; indeed, there is also a surprising dearth of synthesizing studies of classical analytical philosophy, i.e., analytical philosophy covering the period from about the end of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century. Dejnožka's book is one of the few that do venture a thing like that, and that is a welcome thing to do.... Of course, Dejnožka is not out to present an all-round analysis of the views held by the classics of analytical philosophy; he will concentrate on only one aspect of their doctrine, namely their ontology.... Dejnožka's book represents an imposing volume of factographic material, quite a few interesting interpretational hypotheses (relating to particular philosophers under study and to analytical philosophy as a whole) as well as detailed polemics with many authors, whose views might seem to question those hypotheses.... To sum up, Dejnožka's book contains a wealth of remarkable material relative to the classical period of analytical philosophy (mainly Frege and Russell)...." -Jaroslav Peregrin, Filosofický Časopis 49/4, 2001, 701-6. (translated from Czech). COMPLETE PUBLISHED REVIEW 7: "A new book by the American philosopher Jan Dejnožka (*1951, Saratoga Springs, NY) approaches analytic philosophy from positions that the very same analytic philosophy attempted to – at least in its beginnings – vehemently refute and disprove; that is, from the positions of ontology and metaphysics. Dejnožka’s ontological thinking is based on traditional metaphysics; however, that thinking is enlightened by the analytic tradition. The result is a difficult, yet remarkable reading. The terms ‘ontology’ and ‘metaphysics’ appear in in a variety of meanings. Dejnožka does not consider them synonymous: ‘Ontology is a theory … of what it is to be’ (page xxv), whereas metaphysics is the ‘theory of the ultimate categories of things’ (page 7). Ontology is thus transcategorial. The fundamental thesis of the book is that a certain type of ontology is common to the analytic philosophy tradition represented by Bertrand Russell (from 1900 to 1948), Gottlob Frege, Ludwig Wittgenstein and W. V. O. Quine, and that the same type of ontology has also been foundational to substance metaphysics since its beginnings over two thousand years ago. This type is the so-called ‘no entity without identity’ ontology (hereinafter shortened to ‘NEWI’). Dejnožka gives this term, borrowed from Quine’s book Ontological Relativity, a rather more general meaning [than Quine does], namely, ‘any theory on which some expression, conception or property of existence is defined, understood or applied in terms of some expression, conception or property (or relation) of identity’. A more specific type of ontology, under which the authors of the analytic tradition considered by Dejnožka fall, is ‘modified realism’. This is defined as the view that there are ‘both real and rational (or linguistic) identities’ (albeit these rational or linguistic identities are ‘real in a muted sense’) (page 25). The alternatives are radical realism, which sharply dichotomizes real and unreal (fictitious) identities, and radical relativism, on which all identities are merely conceptual. Using the NEWI theory, he then classifies entities according to this identity classification. The actual content of the book is a detailed application of this conceptual apparatus to texts written by analytic philosophers, in particular Frege and Russell. Dejnožka’s analyses are extremely meticulous; for instance, at different stages of Russell’s intellectual development Dejnožka finds, documents and discusses forty-four versions of the NEWI ontology. All that is supplemented with comparisons and polemics with views of other interpreters of the classics of analytic philosophy. The passages dealing with Wittgenstein and Quine are more succinct. According to Dejnožka, even Quine is a modified realist, despite his thesis of translational indeterminacy (which concerns only rational, not real distinctions) (page 206). It is worth mentioning, on the other hand, that Dejnožka considers Quine’s mentor and inspiration Rudolf Carnap to be a ‘genuine radical relativist’: by rejecting external questions in the article Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology, Carnap commits himself to rejecting not only real but also conceptual and linguistic identities. Neither Carnap’s theses of methodological phenomenalism nor methodological physicalism are forms of modified realism (page 264). Dejnožka’s book is without doubt a profound and valuable contribution to an analysis of (not only) Frege’s and Russell’s philosophical points of view. At the same time, his conceptual apparatus enables him to bridge the chasm that was, at least seemingly, left by the philosophy of the linguistic turn between itself and the philosophical tradition; and in this way to demonstrate the evolutionary unity that remains hidden in the background." --David Hollan, B Philosophica 44, 1997, 89-90. (translated from Czech). BOOK DESCRIPTION: Again, this is the 2003 reprint with complete minor corrections. Being qua identity ("no entity without identity") ontology is explored in all four great analysts. The book upends the then-almost universal belief that the analytical school of philosophy is anti-metaphysical. Book correction dated March 5, 2021: page 267, line 23: "physical objects are less real than abstract objects" should be "physical objects are more real than abstract objects". An independent sequel book, _Essays on the Ontological Distinctions: Suárez, Descartes, and Russell_, published in September 2020, is also a free download on ResearchGate.