Michael Beaney

‘Susan Stebbing on Cambridge and Vienna Analysis’

The Vienna Circle and Logical Empiricism, Vienna Circle Institute Yearbook 10 [2002], ed. Friedrich Stadler (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 2003), pp. 339-50


Susan Stebbing (1885-1943) was one of the key figures in what became known in the 1930s as the Cambridge School of Analysis, was one of the founder members of the journal Analysis, which first appeared in November 1933, and was at the centre of the debate about the relationship between the Cambridge School and the Vienna Circle, which formed the two main traditions of analytic philosophy in the 1930s. More than anyone else at the time, she was concerned to elucidate the conceptions of analysis involved in these two traditions; and the aim of this paper is to compare and assess these conceptions by examining Stebbing’s work. I focus, in particular, on three of her papers from the early 1930s, ‘The Method of Analysis in Metaphysics’, which was read to the Aristotelian Society in 1932, ‘Logical Positivism and Analysis’, which was her British Academy lecture delivered in 1933, and her short piece on ‘Directional Analysis and Basic Facts’, which was published in Analysis in 1934; and I consider also some of the criticism of her work that was made at the time, most notably by Max Black in the paper on ‘Philosophical Analysis’ which he read to the Aristotelian Society in 1933.

§1 Paraphrastic and Reductive Analysis

§2 Stebbing on Cambridge Analysis

§3 Black’s Critique

§4 Stebbing’s Response

§5 Stebbing on Vienna Analysis

§6 Bronstein’s Critique and Stebbing’s Response

§7 Conclusion


February 2005