The development of an analytic tradition in philosophy is bound up with a newly intensified interest in logic, and Frege’s development of a new form of logical notation — an early form of what is now called predicate logic — is one of the conditions that made that tradition possible. At the same time, the development of analytic philosophy is also tied to a turn away from what had until that time been a natural and often mutually beneficial exchange with poetry, drama, and fiction. It is easy to assume that the turn away from literature is a necessary consequence of the turn to logic. This essay argues that in fact there are good reasons to think that if we follow the turn to formal logic through, it instead pushes philosophy back into a transformed and perhaps deeper kind of conversation with literature. The terms that organize this renewed conversation are those of a shared preoccupation not with certain ideas or content but with the power of form. The upshot is that the turn to formal logic returns philosophy to a transformed version of the “ancient quarrel” with which it began.

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