At the center of this enterprise is a notion of discursive commitment. Being able to talk--and so in the fullest sense being able to think--is a matter of mastering the practices that govern such commitments, being able to keep track of one's own commitments and those of others. Assessing the pragmatic significance of speech acts is a matter of explaining the explicit in terms of the implicit. As he traces the inferential structure of the social practices within which things can be made conceptually explicit, the author defines the distinctively expressive role of logical vocabulary. This expressive account of language, mind, and logic is, finally, an account of who we are.
Making It Explicit has already developed a justified reputation as a major contribution to the philosophy of language. It takes the traditional ill-fitting story of the relationship between language and the world and turns it upside down. Instead of starting with the existence of the world and explaining what it is for language to represent the world, it starts with language and explains what it is for the world to be represented by language...With tremendous panache, he launches into accounts of normativity, inference, meaning, truth, reference and objectivity, trying to show that the later concepts in that list are made intelligible by the earlier.
Making It Explicit is a landmark in theoretical philosophy comparable to that constituted in the early seventies by A Theory of Justice in practical philosophy...Drawing upon the resources furnished by his intricate theory of language, Brandom succeeds in offering a thoroughly convincing description of the practices within which beings capable of language and action express their rationality and autonomy.
Robert Brandom's magnificent book is an attempt to rework the whole of the philosophy of language in terms of normative, socially articulated pragmatics. His approach, inferentialism, which he traces through Kant and Frege to Wittgenstein and Sellars, is opposed to a more standard approach, representationalism...Making It Explicit is written with an exhilarating argumentative relish and tremendous assurance and thoroughness.
Wilfrid Sellars described his project as an attempt to usher analytic philosophy out of its Humean and into its Kantian stage...Brandom's work can usefully be seen as an attempt to usher philosophy from its Kantian to its Hegelian stage...This sort of free and easy transition between philosophy of language and mind on the one hand, and world-historical vision on the other, is reminiscent not only of Mead and Dewey but also of Gadamer and Habermas.
An extraordinary philosophical book. Brandom has produced a work of great power, scope, and originality. He gives a plausible and powerful reading to the claim that "meaning is normative," or that the concept of meaning is a normative concept, and elucidates it at length. It turns out, in his hands, to be a claim of great philosophical fertility and power.
Robert Brandom's Making it Explicit is an unusual book on the Anglo-American scene...What Brandom achieves is a convincing elaboration of the view of intentionality as a linguistic, normative and social-pragmatic affair...Brandom's book is the first detailed elaboration of the position that it is normative attitudes which distinguishes us, insofar as we are thinking and acting beings, from the physical. It will hopefully contribute to giving that position the attention it deserves in contemporary philosophy of mind.
- 768 pages
- 6-3/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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