Metzinger's work is some of the most exciting philosophy I've read recently. The Ego Tunnel is a short restatement of Metzinger's view of consciousnes...moreMetzinger's work is some of the most exciting philosophy I've read recently. The Ego Tunnel is a short restatement of Metzinger's view of consciousness (first laid out in his massive Being No One: The Self-Model Theory of Subjectivity, bits of which I've read) in a more approachable format. The exposition is broken up by interviews with researchers on different aspects of consciousness, whose views sometimes diverge from the picture Metzinger paints.
What distinguishes Metzinger from other philosophers doing cog-sci influenced philosophy of mind is his openness of the wide implications of these ideas. His last chapters sketch how we could create a new kind of ethics built on our revised understanding of the nature of experience. In this book he only gestures at what this might look like, but the scope of his philosophical outlook is extraordinarily wide.(less)
This is one of the most refreshing books of philosophy I've read in a long time. Writing about J.L. Austin can be daunting, as Austin is one of the be...moreThis is one of the most refreshing books of philosophy I've read in a long time. Writing about J.L. Austin can be daunting, as Austin is one of the best English prose stylists of the 20th century (certainly amongst philosophers). So it's a challenge to write anything about Austin that would be more worth your time to read than just going straight to the man himself.
The reason for a book like the one Baz wrote is that Austin, in spite of having written some wonderful and clear essays and lectures, died before he put much to paper, and left a lot of unanswered questions. This book takes up an approach to philosophy that falls broadly within the tradition of "Ordinary Language Philosophy" (OLP) begun by Austin and shortly thereafter written off by many in the Anglo-American philosophy world as not worth serious consideration. Baz makes some excellent arguments that 1) OLP has been widely misunderstood 2) the commonly stated objections presuppose theories that OLP was meant to undermine, and 3) OLP has just as much to say about the ways philosophers still go wrong today.
There are only a few things that left me unsatisfied about this book. Most of the substance of the book focuses on debates in contemporary epistemology, specifically contextualism about knowledge judgments, as the lead example to demonstrate the methods of OLP. Baz clearly spent a good deal of time reading and thinking about this literature, and it would be time-consuming to master the literature around an entirely different philosophical question just to be able to change examples. Regardless, it does leave open the question whether Baz might be right that we can't apply the concept of knowledge absent any real human concern, but wrong that this is true of philosophical problems more widely. Personally, I'm inclined to think Baz is right on both counts, but I would like to see more of a discussion about how this would apply to debates in ethics. It might, for example, suggest that we get confused about debates in metaethics, since this is an extension of our ethical concepts beyond the domain of their actual use. But does it also mean that ethical theorizing is suspect? Does it point to a view of ethics that lacks universal principles but merely works on a case by case basis (i.e., ethical particularism)?
In any case, this book is fun and enlightening to read. At times, you can hear Baz's incredulity at the bizarre sentences that philosophers say (or set to paper) and assume are meaningful uses of our everyday words. If you've ever felt the seduction towards philosophical theorizing, this is a great curative.(less)
Korsgaard is one of the clearest philosophers, and most of her essays lay out the problem more clearly and with greater understanding than virtually a...moreKorsgaard is one of the clearest philosophers, and most of her essays lay out the problem more clearly and with greater understanding than virtually anyone else. And then 3/4 of the way through the essay, it gets very Kant-y. The clarity is enough to make you think she might be on to something, but the Kant stuff just never grabs me.(less)
A friend gave me a hardcover copy of this as a gift last year, which seemed to me a good excuse to re-read. In retrospect, I think I greatly underesti...moreA friend gave me a hardcover copy of this as a gift last year, which seemed to me a good excuse to re-read. In retrospect, I think I greatly underestimated this book when I read it the first time eight years ago. Austin begins the lectures by identifying a type of utterance, performatives, which cannot be assessed in terms of truth or falsity, and then devotes the next several lectures to trying to find any rigorous way to distinguish performatives from constatives (i.e., the 'normal' type of utterance that is either true or false). Austin eventually sketches a "general theory" which breaks down speech acts into their constituent parts, but by doing so he undermines the distinction with which he started and presents a broad criticism of early 20th century analytic philosophy, one which still applies today.(less)
This book is just plain fun. Benatar is an amusing writer, not because he writes hilarious prose (it's extremely clear and concise), but because he ba...moreThis book is just plain fun. Benatar is an amusing writer, not because he writes hilarious prose (it's extremely clear and concise), but because he baldly states his wild conclusions in his clear, straight-forward way. The book starts by making an argument with which no one agrees (that coming into existence is always a harm, that we ought never to bring any new people into existence), and then working through all the implications of his view that seem to count against it. (Spoiler alert! he bites the bullet on just about every one.) I hope I will get a chance to write more about this book because it is just so darn compelling, but this is a wonderful example of throwing down the gauntlet. Next to no one will be convinced by this book, but it's on you to say why he's wrong.(less)
this book surprisingly engaging. even if you aren't particularly attracted to kantian ethics (i'm not), there's a lot here to make it worthwhile for s...morethis book surprisingly engaging. even if you aren't particularly attracted to kantian ethics (i'm not), there's a lot here to make it worthwhile for someone generally interested in agency and ethical theory (i am!). the writing is clear, but rich in ideas and so it was at times slow-going. there are also some fairly technical discussions of kant (it is after all by a kantian) but the pay-off was worth it.
while i found herman's arguments compelling, the position she ends up taking at the end of the book ends up looking in certain ways like that in Beyond Moral Judgment (Crary, for her part, also notes the similarities, but argues that anyone motivated by the same concerns should prefer her view to Herman's). she also hints at an intriguing meta-ethical view, but without knowing more i can't really assess it. i'm definitely convinced, however, that as far as contemporary interpreters of kant you couldn't really ask for better.(less)
While I'm partial to this book's argument, it's written in a somewhat frustrating style that made it less than a pleasure to read. I wouldn't recommen...moreWhile I'm partial to this book's argument, it's written in a somewhat frustrating style that made it less than a pleasure to read. I wouldn't recommend the first half of the book (except maybe the very beginning, as an introduction) since it makes a general argument about objectivity and rationality (drawing on Wittgenstein and Austin) and the connection to the specific topic of moral judgment doesn't always feel obvious. The later chapters, which utilize examples of literature as moral instruction, feminist ethics and the way we need a change in perspective to perceive certain moral wrongs, and moralism as a moral defect, read somewhat easier and are of more general interest. I think the book as a whole would have been more successful if Crary had led off with examples to demonstrate why her thesis is significant, and held off the foray into the nature of rationality for later.(less)
For a review of the central questions of analytic metaphysics, this book is surprisinly readable. It's also not enough to get you through a metaphysic...moreFor a review of the central questions of analytic metaphysics, this book is surprisinly readable. It's also not enough to get you through a metaphysics comprehensive exam, but that shouldn't be held against it. The chapters are alternately written by Sider and Conee; personally, I found Sider to have the edge as a better writer (note: his serious writing on 4-dimensionalism is still dense). Honestly, this book would probably make a nice pleasure read; just please, no one go making a career out of it.(less)
This book presents a way of understanding thought as a formal system. It doesn't so much "argue" for that position as teach you a lot of logic, math,...moreThis book presents a way of understanding thought as a formal system. It doesn't so much "argue" for that position as teach you a lot of logic, math, AI, and even a little neuroscience and genetics to give you the tools to understand this. That said, GEB is obviously not so much for those who a) already understand the afore-mentioned fields and/or b) already accept the main thesis of the book. I fall squarely within category b), and have some background in the topics mentioned in category a), although not enough that this book wasn't worth reading. Having worked in the past to understand Gödel, I came away from GEB with a much deeper understanding of the proof itself and related concepts in math/logic. And while I didn't need convincing that thought is basically a property of a formal system, Hofstadter's outlook on this is enough to give the most insightful cognitive scientist some food for thought.(less)
i just finished this book, and it's about mother-flippin' time - i started it some 9 months ago. there were several factors that kept me from finishin...morei just finished this book, and it's about mother-flippin' time - i started it some 9 months ago. there were several factors that kept me from finishing this book more quickly that have nothing to do with its content. nevertheless, i have to confess that it let me down in certain ways. part of the reason is that i had much greater ambitions for this book, but that's not a reason to criticize (it's to gibbard's credit that he has such modest aims). i was also somewhat disappointed simply because gibbard's view is intuitively plausible to me, and i was therefore not shocked (i don't know why i thought i was going to be shocked, but it was a let down all the same).
that, in a nutshell, is why i didn't give this book four stars. if you've ever thought about normative language, and what it is we're doing when we use it, and what exactly we should aim for with moral inquiry, i highly recommend you read this book. it's likely to open your eyes, no matter what perspective you're coming from.(less)