You are on page 1of 6

The Ontology of the Analytic Tradition and

Its Origins
Realism and Identity in Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, and Quine

Jan Dejnozka

While many books discuss the individual achievements of Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, and
Quine, few books consider how the thought of all four thinkers bears on the fundamental
questions of twentieth century philosophy. This book is about existence-identity
connections in Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, and Quine. The thesis of the book is that there
is a general form of ontology, modified realism, which these great analysts share not only
with each other, but with most great philosophers in the Western tradition. Modified realism
is the view that in some sense there are both real identities and conceptual (or linguistic)
identities. In more familiar language, it is the view that there are both real distinctions and
distinctions in reason (or in language). Thus in modified realism, there are some real beings
(ontology) which can serve as a basis for accommodating possibly huge amounts of
conceptual or linguistic relativity, or objectual identities' "shifting" as sortal concepts or
sortal terms "shift" (ideology). Therefore, on the fundamental level of ontology, the
linguistic turn was not a radical break from traditional substance theory. Dejnozka also
holds that the conflict in all four analysts between private language arguments (which
imply various kinds of realism) and conceptual "shifting" (which suggests conceptual
relativism) is best resolved by, and is in fact implicitly resolved by, their respective kinds of
modified realism. Frege and Russell, not Wittgenstein and Quine, emerge as the true
analytic progenitors of "no entity without identity," offering between them at least twenty-
nine private language arguments and fifty-eight "no entity without identity" theories.

The book's principal argument is that while in the analytic tradition, ontology and indeed all
philosophy are held to be supervenient on language, and perhaps ultimately on logical and
conceptual proposals, there is enough reformulation and presupposition of classical thought
to allow analogies to basic concepts of the substance tradition. Dejnozka assimilates the
analysts to Aristotle as the paradigm of modified realism, and briefly describes earlier
origins in Plato and Parmenides.

"I regard this book as a most important contribution to our understanding of the course of
analytic philosophy from Frege to Quine, as well as to our philosophical understanding of
the topics mentioned in its title."

--Panayot Butchvarov

Panayot Butchvarov has been President of the Central Division, American Philosophical
Association, and is the editor of the Journal for Philosophical Research. He is the author of
Skepticism about the External World (Oxford), Being Qua Being: A Theory of Identity,
Existence, and Predication (Indiana University Press), The Concept of Knowledge
(Northwestern University Press), and other books. He served as chair of the philosophy
department at The University of Iowa for many years, and still teaches there.

"Dejnozka's account is at once comprehensive and detailed, historically accurate and

philosophically acute, profound and clear. Those interested in the metaphysical foundations
of analytic philosophy will find it very useful. So will ontologists generally."

--Stewart Umphrey

Stewart Umphrey is a professor of philosophy at St. John's College. He is the author of

Zetetic Skepticism (Longwood Academic) and Complexity and Analysis (Lexington Books).

"This work is simultaneously a scholarly investigation and interpretation of four of the most
important thinkers in the analytic tradition, and a sustained critique of contemporary
relativisms. Dejnozka argues that not only Frege and Russell, but such 'antimetaphysical'
philosophers as Wittgenstein and Quine do in fact have metaphysical commitments which
can be traced not only to Russell and Frege, but to a long and distinguished tradition within
Western philosophy. This is a provocative and challenging reading of the analytic

--Evan Fales

Evan Fales is a professor of philosophy at The University of Iowa. He is the author of

Causation and Universals (Routledge) and A Defense of the Given (Rowman & Littlefield).
"Dejnozka's superb expertise on Frege and Russell inevitably must be stressed. But his
book is not 'mere history'; there are many sharp criticisms of major contemporaries."

--Jos Benardete

Jos Benardete is a professor of philosophy at Syracuse University. He is the author of

Metaphysics: The Logical Approach (Oxford) and Infinity (Clarendon).

Excerpt from Published Review:

"A desirable feature of the book is that the Preface and Introduction provide the reader with
a clear statement of the overall plan of the work, together with the major concepts and
distinctions which will be used throughout. Consequently the reader knows, at any point,
exactly where he/she is in the development of the main argument. Combined with a precise,
transparent style of writing, the book is a treat to read. Particularly impressive are the novel
insights and deeper interpretations which the author gives of the four analysts....

"An extensive bibliography and reasonably comprehensive index round off a fine thought-
provoking piece of research."

--Wayne A. Patterson, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 75/4, December 1997, 543-44.

Dr. Patterson teaches at National University of Singapore. He is the author of Bertrand

Russell's Philosophy of Logical Atomism (Peter Lang).

Excerpt from Published Review:

"[W]hat is still rightly regarded as the analytic tradition has indeed not only turned back to
more traditional metaphysical concerns..., but also taken an interest, self-reflectively, in its
own historical roots, with the expectation of uncovering metaphysical conceptions at
work....Jan Dejnozka's book is a fine example of this historically motivated return to
metaphysics, offering a detailed and scholarly elucidation of the ontological views of Frege
and Russell...."

--Michael Beaney, International Journal of Philosophical Studies 6/3, October 1998, 451-

Prof. Beaney teaches at the University of Manchester. He is the author of Frege: Making
Sense (Duckworth) and Analysis (Acumen, forthcoming), and is the editor of The Frege
Reader (Blackwell).
Excerpt from Published Review:

"Throughout the text, Dejnozka exhibits both a broad appreciation of ontological issues,
and an even deeper appreciation of the primary and secondary literature....

"In conclusion, it is more than fair to say that Dejnozka offers a daring re-reading of the
analytic tradition which, if it stands in the face of scholarly criticism, could force both a
long overdue reassessment of how analytic philosophy since Frege relates to the historical
and contemporary continental traditions, and a reconsideration of the prevailing analytic
conception of metaphysics as dependent on semantics....

"[M]any challenging ideas and innovative interpretations await the earnest reader on each

--Bob Barnard, Bertrand Russell Society Quarterly 100, November 1998, 33-35.

Prof. Barnard teaches at the University of Memphis.

Excerpt from Published Review:

"This is a very ambitious book, executed with intelligence and argumentative skill."

--Arthur Falk, Russell n.s. 18, Winter 1998-99, 161-74.

Prof. Falk teaches at Western Michigan University.

Excerpt from Published Review:

"There are surprisingly few books that would take a synthesizing view of analytical
philosophy. However, it is also true that in the second half of our century the body of
philosophers who either avow analytical philosophy or tend to be included in the number of
its representatives exhibit a degree of heterogeneity which makes any synthesis
problematic; indeed, there is also a surprising dearth of synthesizing studies of classical
analytical philosophy, i.e., analytical philosophy covering the period from about the end of
the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century. Dejnozka's book is one of the few that
do venture a thing like that, and that is a welcome thing to do.
"Of course, Dejnozka is not out to present an all-round analysis of the views held by the
classics of analytical philosophy; he will concentrate on only one aspect of their doctrine,
namely their ontology....

"Dejnozka's book represents an imposing volume of factographic material, quite a few

interesting interpretational hypotheses (relating to particular philosophers under study and
to analytical philosophy as a whole) as well as detailed polemics with many authors, whose
views might seem to question those hypotheses....

"To sum up, Dejnozka's book contains a wealth of remarkable material relative to the
classical period of analytical philosophy (mainly Frege and Russell)...."

-Jaroslav Peregrin, Filosoficky' Casopis 49/4, 2001, 701-6. (translated from Czech)

Jaroslav Peregrin teaches at Charles University in Prague. He is the author of: Logika ve
filosofii, filosofie v logice [Logic within Philosophy, Philosophy within Logic] (Herrmann a
synov); Doing Worlds with Words (Kluwer), Uvod do teoretick smantiky (Principy
formlnho modelovn v znamu) [Introduction to Theoretical Semantics (Principles of
formal modelling of meaning)] (Karolinum); V znam a struktura [Meaning and Structure]
(Oikoymenh); Meaning and Structure (Ashgate), and of many papers. He is the editor of
several books: Co je analytick v rok? [What is an analytic statement?] (Oikoymenh)
(includes Peregrin's translations of Frege, Ayer, Wittgenstein, Malcolm, Grice and
Strawson, and Putnam); O em mluvme? (Vybran stati Pavla Tichho k logice a
smantice) [What do we talk about? (Pavel Tichy 's Selected Papers on Logic and
Semantics)] (Filosofia) (includes Peregrin's translations of Tichy's papers); The nature of
truth (if any) (Proceedings of the 1996 Prague International Colloquium) (Filosofia); Co po
metafyzice? [What after Metaphysics?] (Archa) (includes Peregrin's translations of Rorty
and Putnam); Obrat k jazyku: druh kolo [Linguistics Turn: Second Round] (Filosofia)
(includes Peregrin's translations of Quine, Sellars, Davidson, Goodman, Rorty, and
Putnam); Truth and its Nature (if any) [based on the above Proceedings] (Kluwer). He is
also the translator of: W. V. O. Quine, Hledn pravdy [Pursuit of Truth] (Herrmann a
synov); Daniel Dennett: Druhy mysl [Kinds of Minds] (Archa); and W. V. O. Quine: Od
stimulu k vd [From Stimulus to Science] (Filosofia, forthcoming).

Ordering Information

The 1996 paperback edition sold out in December 2000, was reprinted with corrections in
2002, and was reprinted with further corrections in 2003. The 2002 reprint has corrections
to 85 pages, and the 2003 reprint to 97 pages total. The publisher is offering in effect two
options to anyone ordering the paperback: either the 2003 paperback reprint, or a
clothbound copy of the original printing of June 1996. The latter option is a savings of
almost $50.00 on the regular price for the clothbound. These options are not on the
publisher's Web site or on the telephone service representatives' computer, since the reprints
are not new editions. But there is an order form on the Web site. To obtain the 2003 reprint,
please use the order form and specify "no substitutions," as the publisher has substituted the
clothbound for paperback orders in the past.

337 + xxvi pages (1996). Pbk $41.95, ISBN 0-8226-3053-2. Cloth $91.00, ISBN 0-8226-
3052-4. 10% academic discount. To order, please call 1-800-462-6420 toll free in the
U.S.A., or write Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 15200 NBN Way, P.O. Box 191, Blue
Ridge Summit, PA 17214, U.S.A., or 12 Hid's Copse Road, Cumnor Hill, Oxford OX2 9JJ,
U.K. Tel.: 44-0-1865-865466. U.K. The U.K. office does not keep the book in stock, but
receives copies from the U.S. office monthly as needed. Shipping within the U.S.A. is $4
for the first copy, $1 for additional copies up to ten copies total; over ten copies is by
weight. The book may also be ordered at, at, and at the Barnes and Noble Online Bookstore.

Return to Jan Dejnozka Home Page