Concluding Remarks: The Last Decades

Part of the History of Analytic Philosophy book series (History of Analytic Philosophy)


The chapter summarises the main lines of the explanation provided in this book of the decline of Wittgenstein in the history of analytic philosophy. Then it briefly focuses on two features of the last decades. First, even after the decline happened, Anglo-American academic culture has experienced, as it were, a sort of rediscovery of various forms of philosophy somewhat inspired by Wittgenstein’s later thought. As a possible guide for future work, some data included in the Web of Science citation indexes are analysed by applying co-citation tools. In particular, within the sub-corpus of the articles in which Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations are cited, co-citation analysis indicates the number of times in which other works are cited together with the Investigations during the period 1986–2015. Arguably, this can serve as a proxy to measure the ‘areas of influence’ of Wittgenstein’s Investigations in the considered period. Second, as a consequence of economic stagnation, around 1975 a crisis in the humanities occurred in the United States: not just a legitimacy crisis similar to the scientifically oriented redefinition of the humanistic disciplines occurred in the 1950s and 1960s; rather, a crisis in the literal sense, characterised by serious economic pressures on the liberal arts colleges and humanities departments. In the new context of scarcity, the struggle for hegemony changed its features, becoming a very concrete battle for academic positions. This is clearly visible in the analysis of the academic success of analytic Ph.D. candidates in the period from 1981 to 2010 in the context of American universities, compared with the lack of success of the Wittgensteinian candidates (also the data from 1951 to 1980 are taken into account for the sake of a comparison, so as to individuate when approximately the decline began).


Quantitative methods in the history of philosophy Co-citation analysis Sociology of philosophy Academic success Wittgenstein Analytic philosophy Late analytic philosophy 

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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of TurinTurinItaly

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