Sharing because I feel that the contribution of analytical philosophy is sometimes under appreciated here, particularly compared to other attempts at philosophy:

“In grappling with these mysteries, Oxford philosophers developed and refined old and new techniques. Reasoning, deduction, explanation, more care and precision in language, crisper concepts, deeper distinctions, elaborate models, thought experiments, devastating counterexamples, intuitive principles that press to surprising conclusions—on all of these things, Oxford led the way, and the rest of the Anglosphere followed. Its legacy is less a set of ideas or even a series of sacred tenets and Delphic sayings than it is a devotion to rigor, clarity, truth, and a very practical British revulsion to nonsense.

… Creative genius is evenly distributed in neither time nor place. A survey of the past shows that genius is not randomly scattered about, like the seeds of a dandelion, but concentrates: ancient Athens, Renaissance Florence, Silicon Valley, among other examples. Why these fertile eras and places appear, peak, and then decline is understudied as a historical phenomenon. Oxford philosophy in the twentieth century, though not as astonishing as Florence or as productive as Silicon Valley, is nevertheless an example of the clustering of philosophical genius.

… Third—and strangely left unexplored by the authors—nearly all the philosophers in these books did not have Ph.D.s in philosophy. Gilbert Ryle, J. L. Austin, Isaiah Berlin, Iris Murdoch, Philippa Foot, Elizabeth Anscombe, A. J. Ayer, R. M. Hare, Bernard Williams, and Derek Parfit—not a single doctoral degree in philosophy among them. A first in their undergraduate exams—meaning a grade of “A+”—was enough to send them on their way. Yes, each won prizes and fellowships, but none wrote anything like a dissertation under the supervision of an advisor. One might conclude, as the analytic tradition fades into its senility, that requiring a graduate degree in philosophy made academic philosophers worse at philosophy.

… Perhaps most importantly, Oxford was rich in social and intellectual influences outside the tutorials. Again, all three books bring this vividly to life. A new club seems to have formed every decade to discuss philosophy. The old discussion groups stuck around, too. The Jowett Society, the Wee Teas, the Metaphysicals, J. L. Austin’s Saturday Morning Meetings, the Tuesday Group—out of these clubs, friendships formed in breakaway circles. Those circles became crucibles for refining thought, shaping and sharing a vision about what counted as good work and what big debates were worth addressing. More than mentorship, collaborative and somewhat rivalrous friendships set the pace, escalated the level of play, and expanded the edge of the possible. Only your friends can rev you up to desecrate the monuments of the last generation.“

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