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Expression and the Inner

Expression and the Inner

David H. Finkelstein

ISBN 9780674030442

Publication date: 12/15/2008

At least since Descartes, philosophers have been interested in the special knowledge or authority that we exhibit when we speak about our own thoughts, attitudes, and feelings. Expression and the Inner contends that even the best work in contemporary philosophy of mind fails to account for this sort of knowledge or authority because it does not pay the right sort of attention to the notion of expression. Following what he takes to be a widely misunderstood suggestion of Wittgenstein's, Finkelstein argues that we can make sense of self-knowledge and first-person authority only by coming to see the ways in which a self-ascription of, say, happiness (a person's saying or thinking, "I'm happy this morning") may be akin to a smile--akin, that is, to an expression of happiness. In so doing, Finkelstein contrasts his own reading of Wittgenstein's philosophy of mind with influential readings set out by John McDowell and Crispin Wright. By the final chapter of this lucid work, what's at stake is not only how to understand self-knowledge and first-person authority, but also what it is that distinguishes conscious from unconscious psychological states, what the mental life of a nonlinguistic animal has in common with our sort of mental life, and how to think about Wittgenstein's legacy to the philosophy of mind.

Praise

  • This book is an important contribution to a group of problems which have a central place in philosophy of mind. Here I am taking "philosophy of mind" in a broad sense; Finkelstein's book and the problems he discusses have implications for philosophy of language, metaphysics, and epistemology. The book is written with intelligence and verve. Very few works in philosophy have anything describable as "narrative tension," but Finkelstein's certainly does. He draws the reader into the problems he is attempting to solve with the skill of a writer of detective stories; he leads his readers down paths that appear inviting, only then to demonstrate why the apparent solutions on offer down those paths won't do; and his arguments for the solution he himself offers at the end have the force, and the place in the book, of the denouement of a good thriller.

    —Cora Diamond, Professor of Philosophy, University of Virginia

Author

  • David H. Finkelstein is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Chicago.

Book Details

  • 194 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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