Since its inception in ancient Greece, Western philosophy had undergone two breaks with its past. The first was initiated by Descartes with his "method of doubt" which led to a questioning of the basic assumptions of classical philosophy, the second arose at the beginning of the 20th century and is associated with the movement now known as analytic philosophy. Clarke explains some of the crucial issues raised by the second philosophical revolution, and especially the differences between the early phase of analytic philosophy, covering roughly the first half of the 20th century, and the new phase which commenced about 1960. As the book surveys the direction of modern philosophy, it is able to combine discussion of cutting edge topics with an introduction to analytic philosophy for those with little background in logic or history of philosophy. The author traces the progression of the analytic movement from its origins, through its development by applications of logic to philosophical problems and by "ordinary language" philosophers. He then concentrates on the post-1960 phase, with its rejection of earlier views dominated by Wittgenstein's methods.
The new phase features the development of a materialist metaphysics, the attempt to assimilate philosophy to the natural sciences, and the attempt to reinstate normative ethics as a guide to conduct. Clarke defends the first phase against aspects of the second phase, arguing that contemporary materialism rests on the mistaken view that mental language has fact-stating functions, and that normative ethics imposes on moral reasoning a false intellectualist model.
Publisher: Open Court Publishing Co ,U.S.