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Intention 2nd Edition

7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0674003996
ISBN-10: 0674003993
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Editorial Reviews


Anscombe's classic work is the font from which all subsequent philosophical thought about agency flows. (Robert B. Brandom, University of Pittsburgh)

What Anscombe has done is to cut through a whole mess of philosophical clichés, and to give us a fresh, detailed picture of the concept of an action, and of related notions such as that of a reason for acting—and this in a way which brings out clearly the sources of a host of philosophical muddles in which one can find oneself in dealing with these concepts. To have done that is to have made a significant contribution to philosophy. (Judith Jarvis Thomson Journal of Philosophy)

Anscombe's Intention is the most important treatment of action since Aristotle. (Donald Davidson, University of California, Berkeley)

Intention opened for philosophical exploration a territory of thought, and laid out the swamps and thickets capable of trapping unwary philosophers. It is still an indispensable guide. (Cora Diamond, University of Virginia)

Anscombe's fusion of the Aristotelian and analytical traditions is one of the highest peaks of 20th century philosophy; it has lost none of its power to destroy philosophical complacency and excite new philosophical thought. (Michael Thompson, University of Pittsburgh)

Often quoted, sometimes read, rarely understood, Anscombe's Intention is nevertheless the defining moment in 20th-century philosophy of action. (J. David Velleman, University of Michigan)

Intention is a classic of modern philosophical psychology. It is unashamedly Wittgensteinian in organization and style--and Wittgensteinian too in its breaking of new ground and unerring sense of a new question, an unnoticed connection, an unexamined assumption. The freshness and intensity of the writing remain most impressive. (Crispin Wright, University of St. Andrews)

Elizabeth Anscombe's Intention is an extraordinary work: with penetrating acumen, delightfully dry wit, and not a single wasted breath, over the course of less than a hundred pages, it manages to make signal contributions to the philosophy of action, mind, and language, to moral philosophy, and to the interpretation of Aristotle and Wittgenstein. (James Conant)

About the Author

G. E. M. Anscombe was Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 106 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; 2 edition (October 16, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674003993
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674003996
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #259,426 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Gerald J. Nora on April 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
G.E.M. Anscombe, a student of Wittgenstein, uses an approach that is reminsicent of her old teacher by dividing her book into individual reflections on aspects of what it means to intend to do something. This method invites the reader to meditate on this topic and does a powerful job to help one realize what a mystery intention is, and shows just how much depth there is to human action and interpersonal relations. Anscombe, who just died earlier in 2001, is rightfully considered one of the greatest English speaking philosophers of the 20th century, and this work is a magnificent example of her genius.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Joseph A. Harder on December 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
A political philosopher friend of mine who dotes on Richard Rorty, John Dewey, and- least impressive of all- Daniel Dennett, calls Intention, "Anscombes crummy little book.". That may rank as one of the most wrongheaded reviews of all time. On a quick, superficial reading, Intention IS easy to dismiss with a shrug. However, a closer, slower reading reveals the extraordinary riches of this brief, brilliant, book. Anscombe was almost unique among twentieth century philosophers, in that she was a Plato and Aristotle scholar( First Class honors in "Greats" at Oxford.), who was also a student and disciple of wWittgenstein. In this remarkable book, Anscombe uses a Wittgensteinian mode and manner to approach Aristotelian (and Thomistic) themes in action theory. Intention is extraordinarily succinct and siffused with a remarkably dry, understated, wit. J.M Cameron once wrote that Anscombe wrote in a "dorian mode", without ruffles or flourishes. That is true. It is also true that she was a brilliant minaturist. Like the stories of her fellow Catholic Flannery O'Connor, Anscombe philosophical texts are akin to exqusitely crafted and detailed medieval ivories.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By eudoxos on March 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
It's a must for everyone who are living in the world which is dominated by the modern scientific worldview. Especially anyone who has a special interest in the nature of action and intention and ethics shouid read it. The essential theme is "practical knowledge". We are doers in a real world. We are neither mere spectators in the world nor immaterial ghosts wrapped in an inner world always willing but never action.
One of the the five best books that I've read in philosophy. Highly recommended. Caveat: This book is extremly difficult to understand at one reading so you shoul read it over and over again.
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22 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Conan on November 28, 2007
Format: Paperback
I was a student of Anscombe's when she was a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania, along with her spouse Peter Geach, circa 1980. I took a class on Wittgenstein from Anscombe and a class on Frege from Geach. Anscombe was a wonderfully friendly raconteur with dry wit and lofty memories of Wittgenstein, who apparently "blessed" her. For the class we used her book Intention, a great read and even better when read aloud by her. Geach's class was a frightening exercise in intimidation, as few of us were brave enough to even be in the room with him, much less have him lecture to us on Frege. I remember being the sole person in the class, and saying nothing for 12 weeks. Meanwhile Geach lectured at the board, completely ignoring me. From what I understand when they headed back to England they boarded the wrong plane and wound up in Mexico City. I did spend some time discussing McTaggart with Geach, and almost went abroad to write my dissertation with him on said, but was warned that he probably wouldn't remember me when I showed up.
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