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Oxford Realism

Travis, Charles; Kalderon, Mark Eli; (2013) Oxford Realism. In: Beaney, M, (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of The History of Analytic Philosophy. (pp. 1-32). Oxford University Press: Oxford, UK. Green open access

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Oxford’s own brand of realism (or anti-idealism) flourished from around the turn of the last century until John Cook Wilson’s death in 1915. Other, but related, varieties arose in roughly the same period, first in Frege, then in Cambridge. Some strands of Oxford’s brand flourished there until much later, and continue now, for example in the form of what has come by the name ‘disjunctivism’ (particularly about knowledge). Others died out, at least in Oxford. Cook Wilson and his student, H. A. Prichard, were the first leading Oxford exponents. Their realism centred on knowledge and perception, as opposed to Frege’s, which centred on the objectivity of truth. (A matter of emphasis.) This realism, both at Oxford and at Cambridge, proved fragile. Russell, for example, was soon to endorse the idea that the only genuine singular thoughts were about Vorstellungen in Frege’s sense. By the 1930s, Prichard had very self-consciously come to hold that the only true objects of perception were Vorstellungen. This essay sets out realism’s vicissitudes at Oxford, and offers a diagnosis of its fragility, to wit: until Austin’s working out of one leading idea in Cook Wilson, the tools for preserving it (the idea of the occasion-sensitivity of what is said in speaking of things being thus and so) were simply not available.

Type: Book chapter
Title: Oxford Realism
ISBN-13: 9780199238842
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199238842.013.0018
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199238842.013...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
Keywords: realism, language, knowledge, perception, Cook Wilson, Prichard, Austin
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1542319
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