Philosophy and Psycho-Analysis The Meaning of Analysis - Essay

John Wisdom

The Meaning of Analysis

(Student Guide to World Philosophy)

What is really involved in this disclosure of “structure” can be understood only by an examination of what Wisdom means by analysis as the method of all philosophy. Because his use of this word is somewhat technical, the way may be prepared by an examination of the conception of the world that, according to Wisdom, is held by all metaphysicians. They believe, in his words, “that the actual world is made up solely of positive, specific, determinate, concrete, contingent, individual, sensory facts.” They also believe, however, in an apparent “penumbra of fictional, negative, general, indeterminate, abstract, necessary, super-individual, physical facts.” This penumbra is apparent only because observers have not penetrated deeply enough. Philosophers believe that there are not two ways of knowing—one for the nonpenumbral facts and another for the penumbral—yet they also believe that because the nonpenumbral and the penumbral are not identical, there must be two ways of knowing. This produces philosophical perplexity. In the following examples, what is given first may be designated as the penumbral fact, and what is given second as the nonpenumbral fact.The height of the average man is simply the sum of the heights of the individual men divided by their number. A chair is simply a collection of sense-data. A person’s mind is nothing more than his behavior. The state is something over and above the individuals who make it up. The statement “Not three people are interested in mathematical logic” may be expressed in this form: “If x is interested in mathematical logic, and y also is interested, and z also is interested, then x is...

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