How many grains make a heap?

Richard Rorty reviews Philosophical Analysis in the 20th Century: Vol. I: The Dawn of Analysis, and Vol. II: The Age of Meaning, by Scott Soames, in the London Review of Books:

‘I had hoped my department would hire somebody in the history of philosophy,’ my friend lamented, ‘but my colleagues decided that we needed somebody who was contributing to the literature on vagueness.’

‘The literature on what?’ I asked.

‘Dick,’ he replied, exasperated, ‘you’re really out of it. You don’t realise: vagueness is huge.’

My friend’s judgment is confirmed by Scott Soames’s 900-page history of analytic philosophy. In an epilogue titled ‘The Era of Specialisation’, Soames cites ‘the investigation of vague predicates’ as an area of philosophical inquiry that has ‘exploded in the last thirty years’. The intensity with which such specialised inquiries are being pursued is, he says, indicative of the fact that ‘the discipline itself – philosophy as a whole – has become an aggregate of related but semi-independent investigations, very much like other academic disciplines.’

Soames welcomes this change.

More here.

And see a reply by Soames here.