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Toward a Contextual Realism

Toward a Contextual Realism

Jocelyn Benoist

ISBN 9780674248489

Publication date: 07/06/2021

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An award-winning philosopher bridges the continental-analytic divide with an important contribution to the debate on the meaning of realism.

Jocelyn Benoist argues for a philosophical point of view that prioritizes the concept of reality. The human mind’s attitudes toward reality, he posits, both depend on reality and must navigate within it.

Refusing the path of metaphysical realism, which would make reality an object of speculation in itself, independent of any reflection on our ways of approaching it or thinking about it, Benoist defends the idea of an intentionality placed in reality—contextualized. Intentionality is an essential part of any realist philosophical position; Benoist’s innovation is to insist on looking to context to develop a renewed realism that draws conclusions from contemporary philosophy of language and applies them methodically to issues in the fields of metaphysics and the philosophy of the mind. “What there is”—the traditional subject of metaphysics—can be determined only in context.

Benoist offers a sharp criticism of acontextual ontology and acontextual approaches to the mind and reality. At the same time, he opposes postmodern anti-realism and the semantic approach characteristic of classic analytic philosophy. Instead, Toward a Contextual Realism bridges the analytic-continental divide while providing the foundation for a radically contextualist philosophy of mind and metaphysics. “To be” is to be in a context.


  • Here, the most erudite and insightful European philosopher brings welcome new perspectives to a variety of recent Anglophone debates. Toward a Contextual Realism breathes fresh air into what might otherwise become insular and sterile modes of philosophy.

    —Charles Travis, King’s College London


  • Jocelyn Benoist is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and author of Concepts, Les limites de l’intentionalité (The Bounds of Intentionality), and Le bruit du sensible (The Noise of Sensible Things). He is a recipient of the Gay-Lussac Humboldt Prize.

Book Details

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