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Tales of the Mighty Dead: Historical Essays in the Metaphysics of Intentionality [Hardcover]

Robert B. Brandom
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 1, 2002 0674009037 978-0674009035

A work in the history of systematic philosophy that is itself animated by a systematic philosophic aspiration, this book by one of the most prominent American philosophers working today provides an entirely new way of looking at the development of Western philosophy from Descartes to the present.

Brandom begins by setting out a historical context and outlining a methodological rationale for his enterprise. Then, in chapters on Spinoza, Leibniz, Hegel, Frege, Heidegger, and Sellars, he pursues the most fundamental philosophical issues concerning intentionality, and therefore mindedness itself, revealing an otherwise invisible set of overlapping themes and explanatory strategies. Variously functionalist, inferentialist, holist, normative, and social pragmatist in character, the explanations of intentionality offered by these philosophers, taken together, form a distinctive tradition. The fresh perspective afforded by this tradition enriches our understanding of the philosophical topics being addressed, provides a new conceptual vantage point for viewing our philosophical ancestors, and highlights central features of the sort of rationality that consists in discerning a philosophical tradition--and it does so by elaborating a novel, concrete instance of just such an enterprise.


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Tales of the Mighty Dead: Historical Essays in the Metaphysics of Intentionality + Making it Explicit: Reasoning, Representing, and Discursive Commitment + Perspectives on Pragmatism: Classical, Recent, and Contemporary
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Just as Kant managed to recast a good bit of the history of philosophy as a struggle between rationalism and empiricism (thus leading to his synthesis of the two), Brandom has recast a substantial portion of modern philosophy as a struggle over the consequences of inferentialist approaches. The way he shows that there is a coherent line to he traced from Leibniz to Spinoza to Kant to Hegel to Frege to Heidegger to Wittgenstein to Sellars is brilliant; it will quite naturally also he controversial (in all the best senses). This is one of those books that will force even the people who disagree most with him to have to take his position all the more seriously. If nothing else, this shows that the usual ways of drawing the (by now tired) "continental/analytic" distinctions are in serious need of rethinking. Brandom's is an original voice. Brandom's work, obviously analytical in orientation, also claims to take its inspirations from figures normally shunned in analytic circles. This makes him a key figure in the effort to "overcome" the dichotomy. (Terry Pinkard Northwestern University)

About the Author

Robert B. Brandom is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Fellow of the Center for Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (December 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674009037
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674009035
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 6.4 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,103,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars untitled September 15, 2004
Format:Hardcover
This is a fascinating collection of essays. Essentially Brandom tries to excavate an underground tradition buried deep in the history of modern philosophy that spans from Spinoza to Sellars--a tradition that seeks to explain mindedness in terms of the ability to make inferences, and then seeks to present that ability as a kind of practical know-how. The best way to approach these essays is to think of them as filling in the details of the sketch of this tradition offered in his "Making it Explicit"--as making explicit the historical commitments contained in that work, if you will. To complain that they are insensitive to the historical contexts of the authors in question is to miss the point of the exercise (and to overlook Brandom's own remarks on this question). Most of the material here (which includes essays on Spinoza, Leibniz, Hegel, Frege, Heidegger and Sellars) is not new. But having it all in one place is nice, and his introduction is definitely worth reading. In it Brandom provides an overview of his take on this tradition, as well as an interesting account of his own hermeneutical strategies and prejudices. His attempt to combine Gadamer with the account of de re and de dicto attitude ascriptions from "Making it Explicit" is certainly worth the price of admission. It should be noted that those who have not already read some of Brandom's work will probably find this pretty inaccessible. The claims he makes about the mighty dead are expressed in his own highly idiosyncratic vocabulary (this goes especially for the essays that were written later), and readers who are unfamiliar with it are likely to find what he says somewhat baffling. Like Sellars before him, Brandom treats the texts of the historical figures with which he engages as occasions to do philosophy. Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Recasting of the Tradition October 26, 2009
Format:Hardcover
This book is a great entry point into Brandom's vast and expanding philosophical system. I actually read it after Making it Explicit, Articulating Reasons, Between Saying and Doing, and Reason in Philosophy, and it allowed me to appreciate Brandom's thought from a whole new angle, the classic modern works all translated into his vocabulary. Of particular interest are the essays on thinkers Brandom does not discuss in his major publications, namely Spinoza, Leibniz and Heidegger.
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