By Catarina Dutilh Novaes
As reported a few weeks ago, I’ve been working on a paper with my student Leon Geerdink (for a volume on the history of early analytic philosophy being edited by Chris Pincock and Sandra Lapointe) where we elaborate on a hypothesis that I first presented in a blog post more than 3 years ago: that the history of analytic philosophy can to a large extent be understood as the often uneasy interplay between Russellianism and Mooreanism, in particular with respect to their respective stances on the role of common sense for philosophical inquiry. In the first part of the paper, we present an (admittedly superficial and selective) overview of some recent debates on the role of intuitions and common sense in philosophical methodology; in the second part we discuss Moore and Russell specifically; and in the third part we discuss what we take to be another prominent instantiation of the opposition between Russellianism and Mooreanism: the debate between Carnap and Strawson on the notion of explication.
The paper is now almost ready (and we’d be happy to share the draft if anyone is interested), but one puzzle remains: when and how did the term ‘intuitions’ begin to be used in the philosophical literature in its current sense(s)? (As argued by C.S.I Jenkins, the term seems to be used in different senses in the current debates.) As established by Leon, Russell and Moore do not use the term ‘intuitions’ in any of these senses (and in particular, not in the sense of common sense and folk beliefs); instead, they use the term in the technical, largely Kantian, sense of immediate knowledge. We have not found occurrences of the term in the Carnap/Strawson debate either.
Does anyone know the answer to this pressing question? The SEP entry on intuitions is silent on the history of the terminology, and I haven’t found any discussions of this issue in the recent papers I’ve been reading for this project (maybe I’m missing something?). Not much hinges on this matter for the purposes of my paper with Leon, but it did make us curious. Perhaps our knowledgeable readers know the answer? We hope so!