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)
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)