Postanalytic philosophy

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Postanalytic philosophy describes a detachment from the mainstream philosophical movement of analytic philosophy, which is the predominant school of thought in English-speaking countries. Postanalytic philosophy derives mainly from contemporary American thought, especially from the works of philosophers Richard Rorty, Donald Davidson, Hilary Putnam, and W.V. Quine. The term is closely associated with the much broader movement of contemporary American pragmatism, which, loosely defined, advocates a detachment from the definition of 'objective truth' given by modern philosophers such as Descartes. Postanalytic philosophers emphasize the contingency of human thought, convention, utility, and social progress.

Postanalytic philosophy may also be known as postphilosophy, a term used by Rorty, an American post-modern pragmatist philosopher by his own admission[citation needed], to emphasize the notion that the project of philosophy as conceived by Enlightenment philosophers no longer serves the role it used to in society and that this role has been replaced by other media.

On postanalytic philosophy

The term postanalytic philosophy itself has been used in a vaguely descriptive sense and not in the sense of a concrete philosophical movement. Many postanalytic philosophers write along an analytic vein and on traditionally analytic topics. In an interview conducted by Wayne Hudson and Win van Reijen, Richard Rorty declared that, "I think that analytic philosophy can keep its highly professional methods, the insistence on detail and mechanics, and just drop its transcendental project. I'm not out to criticize analytic philosophy as a style. It's a good style. I think the years of superprofessionalism were beneficial." [1]

Rorty encapsulates the essential goal of postanalytic philosophy in that it is not intrinsically opposed to analytic philosophy or its methods, but only to its ultimate aspirations to make philosophy the penultimate form of knowledge which every other knowledge claim must be derived from.


  1. See Eduardo Mendieta, Take Care of Freedom and Truth Will Take Care of Itself, pg. 23