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Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will

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Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will Cover

ISBN13: 9780231151573
ISBN10: 0231151578
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In 1962, the philosopher Richard Taylor used six commonly accepted presuppositions to imply that human beings have no control over the future. David Foster Wallace not only took issue with Taylor's method, which, according to him, scrambled the relations of logic, language, and the physical world, but also noted a semantic trick at the heart of Taylor's argument.

Fate, Time, and Language presents Wallace's brilliant critique of Taylor's work. Written long before the publication of his fiction and essays, Wallace's thesis reveals his great skepticism of abstract thinking made to function as a negation of something more genuine and real. He was especially suspicious of certain paradigms of thought-the cerebral aestheticism of modernism, the clever gimmickry of postmodernism-that abandoned the very old traditional human verities that have to do with spirituality and emotion and community. As Wallace rises to meet the challenge to free will presented by Taylor, we witness the developing perspective of this major novelist, along with his struggle to establish solid logical ground for his convictions. This volume, edited by Steven M. Cahn and Maureen Eckert, reproduces Taylor's original article and other works on fatalism cited by Wallace. James Ryerson's introduction connects Wallace's early philosophical work to the themes and explorations of his later fiction, and Jay Garfield supplies a critical biographical epilogue.

Review:

"A progression of ordinary-seeming premises that would obliterate free will is challenged on its own grounds by the late, celebrated author of Infinite Jest. Written in the mid-1980s as one of Wallace's two undergraduate theses at Amherst College (his first novel, The Broom of the System, was the other), it addresses a 'logical slippage'--as James Ryerson puts it--in Richard Taylor's six famous presuppositions that contend that man has no control over his fate. The paper, a survey of Taylor's argument and its influence on late-20th-century philosophy, is reprinted in its entirety, and the language of modal logic can be heavy going at times--be prepared for pages of highly specialized discussion on logic that necessitate accompanying diagrams. Still, as an early glimpse at the preoccupations of one of the 20th century's most compelling and philosophical authors, it is invaluable, and Wallace's conclusion--'if Taylor and the fatalists want to force upon us a metaphysical conclusion, they must do metaphysics, not semantics'--is simply elegant. (Dec.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)

Synopsis:

Long before he probed the workings of time, human choice, and human frailty in "Infinite Jest," Wallace wrote a brilliant philosophical critique of Richard Taylor's argument for fatalism. This volume reproduces Taylor's original article and other works on fatalism cited by Wallace in his critique.

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

sharkimon, July 22, 2011 (view all comments by sharkimon)
I found the book dense and the reading. Then I thought that the best analogy I can come is a film reel. It can be rum backwords and forword, but only one way makes sense. Now you can even create your alternatate endings (sort of akin to free will). The equations of life are not commutative. They are controlled by "time's arrow".

Thomas J sharkey, Dulugth, Mn.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No

Product Details

ISBN:
9780231151573
Author:
Wallace, David Foster
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Other:
Cahn, Steven M.
Editor:
Cahn, Steven M.
Editor:
Eckert, Maureen
Subject:
Semantics
Subject:
Fate and fatalism
Subject:
Free Will & Determinism
Subject:
Metaphysics
Subject:
Linguistics - Semantics
Subject:
Philosophy : General
Publication Date:
20101231
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English

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Related Subjects


Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » Linguistics » General
History and Social Science » Politics » General
Humanities » Philosophy » General

Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will New Trade Paper
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Product details pages Columbia University Press - English 9780231151573 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "A progression of ordinary-seeming premises that would obliterate free will is challenged on its own grounds by the late, celebrated author of Infinite Jest. Written in the mid-1980s as one of Wallace's two undergraduate theses at Amherst College (his first novel, The Broom of the System, was the other), it addresses a 'logical slippage'--as James Ryerson puts it--in Richard Taylor's six famous presuppositions that contend that man has no control over his fate. The paper, a survey of Taylor's argument and its influence on late-20th-century philosophy, is reprinted in its entirety, and the language of modal logic can be heavy going at times--be prepared for pages of highly specialized discussion on logic that necessitate accompanying diagrams. Still, as an early glimpse at the preoccupations of one of the 20th century's most compelling and philosophical authors, it is invaluable, and Wallace's conclusion--'if Taylor and the fatalists want to force upon us a metaphysical conclusion, they must do metaphysics, not semantics'--is simply elegant. (Dec.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Synopsis" by , Long before he probed the workings of time, human choice, and human frailty in "Infinite Jest," Wallace wrote a brilliant philosophical critique of Richard Taylor's argument for fatalism. This volume reproduces Taylor's original article and other works on fatalism cited by Wallace in his critique.
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