Has philosophy really been transformed into petty qualms about semantics? I

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Has philosophy really been transformed into petty qualms about semantics? I haven't been studying it for very long, but a lot of recent talk has led me to believe that 1.) Philosophy is pretty much completely analytic now, and 2.) Analytic philosophy might as well be called 'rigorous linguistics'. I've learned that there are even philosophers who believe that all philosophy can do is help us clarify what we already know, and it *should* just be rigorous linguistics (Ayer, Wittgenstein, Russell). I thought (and would still like to believe) philosophy was about finding the truth, not narrowing the scope of what could potentially be solved...until there is nothing left but the sentence itself! I totally understand that it is necessary to clarify propositions and arguments before they can be given their deserving assessments, but I'm worried that philosophy has become some kind of unrecognisable monster that will never revert back into truth-finding and reality-understanding. I want to major in philosophy, but what am I getting myself into? Should I be worried? Can you quell my fears? A million thank you's.

Wow, there is quite a lot in your question here. First, I think it is true that a broadly 'analytic' approach is probably dominant in the English speaking world, but I wouldn't say that all of philosophy is 'analytic'. Also, I don't think that the broadly analytic approach is reducible to 'rigorous linguistics.' Yes, there is a corner of the philosophical world that never seems to argue about anything other than linguistics, but it seems pretty clear to me that it is only a small portion of philosophy.

I still think there are important debates that are being examined.... for example in ethics compare John Rawls's A Theory of Justice, Alasdair MacIntyre's After Virtue or Three Rival Versions of Moral Inquiry, and Peter Singer's How Are We To Live? these thinkers are certainly engaging in very substantial debates. Or in philosophy of religion read J.L. Mackie's Miracle of Theism and Richard Swinburne's The Existence of God. I'm sure other panelists could come up with their own lists of substantial debates in their own specialties.

If you want to major in philosophy it is important to realize that you probably won't be solely immersed in the contemporary debates, but you should expect to be exposed to a wide variety of contemporary and historical approaches. So, you should take a look and see what your school emphasizes in their philosophy program. You can also take a look at what the professors there publish to see if they are immersed in the analytic debates you dislike.

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