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MODERN MASTERS / Vol. 49, No. 1 (Spring 1982)

Arien Mack, Editor

Arien Mack

This article traces Ludwig Wittgenstein's philosophical career and the development of logical positivism from Cambridge in 1912 to Vienna in the 1920's and at Oxford, where in the years 1929–1949 he developed a very different system of philosophy still concerned with the same central topic: "the relation of language . . . and the world." Although Wittgenstein had a devoted following in England, the importance of his thought is an illusion, aided by widely admired philosophers who do not follow him in either their methods or conclusions but still extol him.

In the last 25 years, the Anglo-American philosophical climate has undergone a radical change. The hot issues of yesteryear have given way to radically different concerns. No one really believes any longer that it is possible to demarcate once and forever the meaningful sentences of science from the meaningless statements of metaphysics. Even within science, no philosopher now believes that it is possible to determine in a context independent manner which the sentences of a theory will be the theoretical sentences and which the observation ones. Philosophers have become more tentative… Few contemporary philosophers have been more responsible in removing foundationalism from the center stage of philosophy and ushering in the new era than Quine.

Sir Karl Popper, who began his career as a critic of the logical empiricists, has in later years developed a comprehensive vision of man's place in the universe and of the character of the knowledge that man has secured. Popper has not changed many of his main beliefs but has elaborated these views repeatedly to comprehend events more inclusively.

This article asks if one can discover a theory of history in Michel Foucault's thinking about history, writing history and deploying history in current political struggles, and if one can find, against the grain of his anti systematic writing, a set of concepts or categories which reveal the basis of his major accomplishments; he is not a historian of continuity, but discontinuity. However, he does have a framework for studying the past (knowledge/power), a new set of methods for doing so (archeology and genealogy), and a new notion of temporality (discontinuity).

Outlines Noam Chomsky's theses (language as cognitive state, mentalism versus physicalism, and language acquisition as theory construction) that comprise a central core constituting the essentials of his position and considering some concerns in linguistics, philosophy, and psychology, such as whether linguistic competence is knowledge, or whether cognitive states can be identified.

Herbert Marcuse's philosophy of psychological freedom has been particularly influential on the general intellectual and cultural climate of the 1960's and early 70's, for this freedom was not a private goal but rather the goal of drastic social change; unravels the Marxian and Freudian strands that Marcuse synthesized in his concept of psychological freedom and finds that Marcuse's contribution to the literature on psychological freedom is largely negative—it lies mainly in his critique of certain forms of psychological oppression in capitalist society.

Focuses less on Habermas's individual arguments than on the general trajectory of his thought, showing that his development from a philosopher of history with a practical intent to a revisionist theorist of social evolution is the result of a cautious attempt to suggest "a dialectical theory of progress, such as historical materialism claims to be.

Piero Sraffa's theoretical investigations have recaptured the great intellectual heritage of classical political economy, restoring the critique of capitalism to the mainstream of modern mathematical economics. In effect, he took Karl Marx seriously as an economist, and thus opened serious intellectual debate between competing schools of economic theory.

Reviews the life and intellectual production of Jean Piaget, linking the youthful moralist and later elder statesman of cognitive science in Piaget's sense of mission.

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