Analytic Philosophy (Alternative title 'Analytic Atheism?')

In Stephen Bullivant & Michael Ruse (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Atheism. Oxford University Press. pp. 307-319 (2013)
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Most analytic philosophers are atheists, but is there a deep connection between analytic philosophy and atheism? The paper argues a) that the founding fathers of analytic philosophy were mostly teenage atheists before they became philosophers; b) that analytic philosophy was invented partly because it was realized that the God-substitute provided by the previously fashionable philosophy - Absolute Idealism – could not cut the spiritual mustard; c) that analytic philosophy developed an unhealthy obsession with meaninglessness which led to a new kind of atheism that dismissed talk of God as factually meaningless (neither true nor false) rather than meaningful but false; but d) that this new-fangled atheism (unlike the old-fashioned atheism of the founders) is false, since it relies on theories of meaning – verificationism and falsificationism – which are themselves false. The primary focus is on Bertrand Russell, though other analytic philosophers such as Ayer, Neurath and Flew are also extensively discussed.

Author's Profile

Charles R. Pigden
University of Otago


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