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314 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 25:2 APRIL 1987 ora of vague promissory notes in Part One. Then in Part Two my concern was magnified , prompting me to suggest that explicit internal cross-referencing with page numbers costs an author very little space, and it is worth an immense amount to certain readers who care to follow each thread of the author's network of reasoning. Another aid for those with a growing interest in works of C. S. Peirce would be to display quite prominently bibliographic resources and systems currently available for Peirce scholarship . A suggestion which any scholar writing about Peirce might consider is to supply a separate Peirce Quotation Index, as ever more scholars are interested in following up various interpretations of Peirce in the secondary literature. If Hookway is confronted by the opportunity of expanding the book, I would suggest further additions easily accommodated by the existing basic structure might include references in detail to Duns Scotus, topology (wherein continua are considered as primitive conceptions), and the Existential Graphs (which besides analyzing logical operations, illustrate somewhat iconically the nature of continuity in thinking). Finally, if or when this fine book becomes available in paperback, it will surely become more accessible to those it aims to serve. GEORGE A. BENEDICT Eastern Montana College A. J. Ayer. Philosophy in the Twentieth Century. New York: Vintage Books, a984. Pp. x + ~83. Paper, $7.95. John Passmore. Recent Philosophers. LaSalle, Ill.: Open Court Publishing Company, 1985. Pp. vii + 173. Cloth, $~4.95. To consider the difficulties surrounding the writing of the history of contemporary philosophy is to learn to appreciate the attitude of an older generation of (principally German) scholars, who discussed living thinkers, if at all, only with considerable reservation. Moreover, when it is a matter of contemporary analytic philosophy, things become yet more problematic on account of the disinterest, even disdain, philosophers of that ilk display for history. Bertrand Russell was an exceptional exception, but it is crucial to point out that it was despite, rather than on account of, his philosophical perspective that merit accrued to his spirited History of Western Philosophy. Said merit, as Peter Stern has pointed out, rests upon the largely unfulfilled promise of developing a social perspective on the development of Western thought. That book was explicitly the provocation of a maverick radical (we forget at our peril that the brilliant Catholic scholar, Etienne Gilson, never succeeded in presenting , say, St Benedict's significance for the history of philosophy as trenchantly as the atheist, Russell, did!). Ayer's lucid Philosophy in the Twentieth Century aspires to take up where Russell left off and continue his story to the present. Unfortunately, he has excluded just what was most challenging in Russell's work. The result tempts the professional historian of philosophy (an endangered species of which Ayer is less than conscious) to raise the question: when is a history of philosophy not a history of philosophy? Ironically, it BOOK REVIEWS 315 was John Passmore who provided the clearest answer to this question ("The Idea of a History of Philosophy," History and Theory, Beiheft 5 [1965]: 1-3u) in distinguishing genuine history of philosophy from those "polemic" histories, which take 'history' as a jumping off point or a specific figure as a stalking horse in the discussion of the current state of an issue. It would surely be rash to describe Ayer's book as such, but, nevertheless, it would not be whollybeside the point. Moreover, Jenny Teichman has pointed out elsewhere that Ayer is so selective in his history as to be whimsical--if you only read Ayer, for example, you would have no idea that a book called The Structure of ScientificRevolutions was ever discussed at all by philosophers in our time. However, Ayer's peculiar contribution to the genre of polemic history is hardly without interest. As the vigorous defender of classical logical positivism in Language, Truth and Logic, perhaps the most widely discussed philosophical work in English in this century, Ayer has seen his day come and go. All of his views in that book have been subject to devastating attack from all directions. Thus, his retreat to a...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 314-316
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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