Recently, Apolonio opined in a combox here that Catholic philosophy can and ought take a step forward by using the tools of analytic philosophy more consciously. His words were ringing in my ears just as I googled upon the following publishing announcement:
Thought and World: The Hidden Necessities
FORTHCOMING IN NOVEMBER 2008 Available for pre-ordering
James F. Ross is a creative and independent thinker in contemporary metaphysics and philosophy of mind. In this concise metaphysical essay, he argues clearly and analytically that meaning, truth, impossibility, natural necessity, and our intelligent perception of nature fit together into a distinctly realist account of thought and world.
Ross articulates a moderate realism about repeatable natural structures and our abstractive ability to discern them that poses a challenge to many of the common assumptions and claims of contemporary analytic philosophy. He develops a broadly Aristotelian metaphysics that recognizes the “hidden necessities” of things, which are disclosed through the sciences, which ground his account of real impossibility as a kind of vacuity, and which require the immateriality of the human ability to understand. Those ideas are supported by a novel account of false judgment. Ross aims to offer an analytically and historically respectable alternative to the prevailing positions of many British-American philosophers.
James F. Ross is professor of philosophy and law at the University of Pennsylvania.
“In Thought and World, James F. Ross synthesizes and develops much of his work from the last two decades; and as he did in his two other major works (Philosophical Theology and Portraying Analogy) he challenges many of the common dogmatic assumptions from the mainstream of analytic philosophy. While relentlessly challenging these assumptions from a unique and unorthodox perspective, he is nonetheless able to masterfully articulate his position using the dialect of philosophical discourse in analytic philosophy.” — John Zeis, Canisius College
You may have noticed a certain ambiguity, or ambivalence, in the uses of “analytic” in the above-cited matter. Is Ross a critic of analytic philosophy, or an adherent? The answer, I think is, Yes. A seemingly ambivalent deployment of analytic methods seems only right, since I take Professor Ross’s work to be just the kind of creative integration (where possible) of traditional Catholic metaphysics and modern analytic thought, which is what Apolonio was urging for, I think. William Vallicella aka the Maverick Philosopher has also given kudos to Ross.
Perhaps the best place to see Ross’s respectful disdain, as it were, for the analytic tradition, is his stimulating essay, “THE FATE OF THE ANALYSTS: ARISTOTLE’S REVENGE*: SOFTWARE EVERYWHERE.” Another fine place to see how Ross employs analytic philosophy to show its own limits, and thus, its proper relationship with more traditional metaphysics, is his essay, “Immaterial Aspects of Thought” (available via JSTOR… or me, but copyright…); I credit that essay with my decision to go into philosophy as a life-path. (Pardon the circumlocution; I’m skittish about using the term “professional philosophy”).
It goes without saying that I am a big fan of Ross’s work, so I am very excited to see this book of his finally coming to press. A rough draft of it, along with many of Ross’s other works, is available at his webpage. It may be the case that Dr. Liccione, as a former Ph.D. candidate under Professor Ross, can tell you more.