From Publishers Weekly
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.)
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Fatalism, the sorrowful erasure of possibilities, is the philosophical problem at the heart of this book. To witness the intellectual exuberance and bravado with which the young Wallace attacks this problem, the ambition and elegance of the solution he works out so that possibility might be resurrected, is to mourn, once again, the possibilities that have been lost.
(Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of Thirty-six Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction
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... is simply elegant.Publishers Weekly
This book is for any reader who has enjoyed the works of Wallace and for philosophy students specializing in fatalism.
[A] tough and impressive book.Financial Times
(Anthony Gottlieb Financial Times
an excellent summary of Wallace's thought and writing which shows how his philosophical interests were not purely cerebral, but arose from, and fed into, his emotional and ethical concerns.
(Robert Potts Times Literary Supplement
Fate, Time, and Laguage contains a great deal of first-rate philosophy throughout, and not least in Wallace's extraordinarily professional and ambitious essay....
(Daniel Speak Notre Dame Philosophical Review
Valuable and interesting.
(James Ley Australian Literary Review