Top positive review
14 people found this helpful
on May 21, 2006
This is the second 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 the first 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.