Although the ordinary-language branch of analytic philosophy began as an effort to dissolve philosophy, Peter F. Strawson, who has been one of its major voices, has shown that this approach can be enlarged to address many of the great themes of the Western tradition. Strawson was born in England and educated at Oxford University. After military service during World War II and a brief period of teaching in Wales, he returned to Oxford, where he has remained. Strawson's Introduction to Logical Theory (1952) shows that symbolic logic does not capture the complexity of ordinary language. He therefore argues for a logic of everyday discourse that can capture the conditions under which we use logical construction to express ourselves. He tries to show that some classes of valid arguments are not recognized as such within formal systems and that Aristotelian logic can be defended as preferable to modern logic. Strawson's emphasis on language continues in his later work, in which he uses linguistic structures to address metaphysics and epistemology. His book on Immanuel Kant, for example, uses language to rework a priori knowledge. Individuals (1959) begins his work in descriptive metaphysics by proposing that the concept of the person be taken as philosophically primitive. This, he believes, would avoid two equally incoherent views, the first being Cartesian dualism, the second being the view that states of consciousness can be discussed without reference to a knowing subject.
M etaphysics A term introduced by P. F. Strawson in Individuals , in contrast to revisionary metaphysics. Descriptive metaphysics aims to describe the most general features of our conceptual scheme , that is, to describe reality as it manifests itself to the human understanding. Conceptual analysis is its main method. Revisionary metaphysics, on the other hand, attempts to revise our ordinary way of thinking and our ordinary conceptual scheme in order to provide an intellectually and morally preferred picture of the world. Hence, revisionary metaphysicians generally like to establish a well-organized system beyond the world of experience. Strawson claims that the history of metaphysics can be broadly divided into these two kinds of metaphysics. Aristotle and Kant are considered to be the forerunners of descriptive metaphysics, and Strawson's own Individuals is also subtitled An Essay in Descriptive Metaphysics , while Descartes, Leibniz , and Berkeley are representatives of revisionary metaphysics. This distinction may not cover all metaphysical systems, but it has been greatly influential in reviving work in metaphysics. “Descriptive metaphysics is content to describe the actual structure of our thought about the world, revisionary metaphysics is concerned to produce a better structure.” Strawson, Individuals