Analysis is the process of breaking a complex topic or substance into smaller parts in order to gain a better understanding of it. The technique has been applied in the study of mathematics and logic since before Aristotle (384–322 B.C.), though analysis as a formal concept is a relatively recent development.
The word comes from the Ancient Greek ἀνάλυσις (analysis, "a breaking up", from ana- "up, throughout" and lysis "a loosening").
Philosophical analysis (from Greek:Φιλοσοφική ανάλυση) is a general term for techniques typically used by philosophers in the analytic tradition that involve "breaking down" (i.e. analyzing) philosophical issues. Arguably the most prominent of these techniques is the analysis of concepts (known as conceptual analysis). This article will examine the major philosophical techniques associated with the notion of analysis, as well as examine the controversies surrounding it.
Method of analysis
While analysis is characteristic of the analytic tradition in philosophy, what is to be analyzed (the analysandum) often varies. Some philosophers focus on analyzing linguistic phenomena, such as sentences, while others focus on psychological phenomena, such as sense data. However, arguably the most prominent analyses are of concepts or propositions, which is known as conceptual analysis (Foley 1996).
Conceptual analysis consists primarily in breaking down or analyzing concepts into their constituent parts in order to gain knowledge or a better understanding of a particular philosophical issue in which the concept is involved (Beaney 2003). For example, the problem of free will in philosophy involves various key concepts, including the concepts of freedom, moral responsibility, determinism, ability, etc. The method of conceptual analysis tends to approach such a problem by breaking down the key concepts pertaining to the problem and seeing how they interact. Thus, in the long-standing debate on whether free will is compatible with the doctrine of determinism, several philosophers have proposed analyses of the relevant concepts to argue for either compatibilism or incompatibilism.