Noam Chomsky is widely known and deeply admired for being the founder of modern linguistics, one of the founders of the field of cognitive science, and perhaps the most avidly read political theorist and commentator of our time. In these lectures, he presents a lifetime of philosophical reflection on all three of these areas of research to which he has contributed for over half a century. In clear, precise, and non-technical language, Chomsky elaborates on fifty years of scientific development in the study of language, sketching how his own work has implications for the origins of language, the close relations that language bears to thought, and its eventual biological basis. He expounds and criticizes many alternative theories, such as those that emphasize the social, the communicative, and the referential aspects of language. Chomsky reviews how new discoveries about language overcome what seemed to be highly problematic assumptions in the past. He also investigates the apparent scope and limits of human cognitive capacities and what the human mind can seriously investigate, in the light of history of science and philosophical reflection and current understanding. Moving from language and mind to society and politics, he concludes with a searching exploration and philosophical defense of a position he describes as "libertarian socialism," tracing its links to anarchism and the ideas of John Dewey, and even briefly to the ideas of Marx and Mill, demonstrating its conceptual growth out of our historical past and urgent relation to matters of the present.
In Self-Knowledge and Resentment, Akeel Bilgrami argues that self-knowledge of our intentional states is special among all the knowledges we have because it is not an epistemological notion in the standard sense of that term, but instead is a fallout of the radically normative nature of thought and agency. Four themes or questions are brought together into an integrated philosophical position: What makes self-knowledge different from other forms of knowledge? What makes for freedom and agency in a deterministic universe? What makes intentional states of a subject irreducible to its physical and functional states? And what makes values irreducible to the states of nature as the natural sciences study them? This integration of themes into a single and systematic picture of thought, value, agency, and self-knowledge is essential to the book's aspiration and argument. Once this integrated position is fully in place, the book closes with a postscript on how one might fruitfully view the kind of self-knowledge that is pursued in psychoanalysis.
This major new series in the philosophy of science aims to provide a new generation of textbooks for the subject. The series will not only offer fresh treatments of core topics in the theory and methodology of scientific knowledge, but also introductions to newer areas of the discipline. Furthermore, the series will cover topics in current science that raise significant foundational issues both for scientific theory and for philosophy more generally. Biology raises distinct questions of its own not only for philosophy of science, but for metaphysics, epistemology and ethics. This comprehensive new textbook for a rapidly growing field of study provides students new to the subject with an up-to-date presentation of the key philosophical issues. Care is taken throughout to keep the technicalities accessible to the non-biologist but without sacrificing the philosophical subtleties. The first part of the book covers the philosophical challenges posed by evolution and evolutionary biology, beginning with Darwin's central argument in the Origin of the Species. Individual chapters cover natural selection, the selfish gene, alternative units of selection, developmental systems theory, adaptionism and issues in macroevolution. The second part of the book examines philosophical questions arising in connection with biological traits, function, nature and nurture, and biological kinds. The third part of the book examines metaphysical questions, biology's relation with the traditional concerns of philosophy of science, and how evolution has been introduced into epistemological debates. The final part considers the relevance of biology to questions about ethics, religion and human nature.
Wittgenstein's Critique of Metaphysics and Modernity
Author: Kevin M. Cahill
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Kevin M. Cahill reclaims one of Ludwig Wittgenstein's most passionately pursued endeavors: to reawaken a sense of wonder around human life and language and its mysterious place in the world. Following the philosopher's spiritual and cultural criticism and tying it more tightly to the overall evolution of his thought, Cahill frames an original interpretation of Wittgenstein's engagement with Western metaphysics and modernity, better contextualizing the force of his work. Cahill synthesizes several approaches to Wittgenstein's life and thought. He stresses the nontheoretical aspirations of the philosopher's early and later writings, combining key elements from the so-called resolute readings of the Tractatus with the "therapeutic" readings of Philosophical Investigations. Cahill shows how continuity in Wittgenstein's cultural and spiritual concerns informed if not guided his work between these texts, and in his reading of the Tractatus, Cahill identifies surprising affinities with Martin Heidegger's Being and Time—a text rarely associated with Wittgenstein's early formulations. In his effort to recapture wonder, Wittgenstein both avoided and undermined traditional philosophy's reliance on theory. As Cahill relates the steps of this bold endeavor, he forms his own innovative, analytical methods, joining historicist and contextualist approaches to text-based, immanent readings. The result is an original, sustained examination of Wittgenstein's thought.
Despite their conceptual allergy to vegetal life, philosophers have used germination, growth, blossoming, fruition, reproduction, and decay as illustrations of abstract concepts; mentioned plants in passing as the natural backdrops for dialogues, letters, and other compositions; spun elaborate allegories out of flowers, trees, and even grass; and recommended appropriate medicinal, dietary, and aesthetic approaches to select species of plants. In this book, Michael Marder illuminates the vegetal centerpieces and hidden kernels that have powered theoretical discourse for centuries. Choosing twelve botanical specimens that correspond to twelve significant philosophers, he recasts the development of philosophy through the evolution of human and plant relations. A philosophical history for the postmetaphysical age, The Philosopher's Plant reclaims the organic heritage of human thought. With the help of vegetal images, examples, and metaphors, the book clears a path through philosophy's tangled roots and dense undergrowth, opening up the discipline to all readers.