Of Mind and Other Matters displays perhaps more vividly than any one of Nelson Goodman’s previous books both the remarkable diversity of his concerns and the essential unity of his thought.
Many new studies are incorporated in the book, along with material, often now augmented or significantly revised, that he has published during the last decade. As a whole the volume will serve as a concise introduction to Goodman’s thought for general readers, and will develop its more recent unfoldings for those philosophers and others who have grown wiser with his books over the years.
Goodman transcends the narrow “scientism and humanism that set the sciences and the arts in opposition”; his insights derive from both formal philosophy and cognitive psychology. As Hilary Putnam has noted, Goodman “prefers concrete and partial progress to grand and ultimately empty visions”; and here are illuminating studies of topics ranging from science policy and museum administration and art education to narrative in literature and painting and the analysis of elusive aspects of literal and metaphorical reference. All these are ramifications of Goodman’s profound and often revolutionary philosophical work on the ways we understand and even make the worlds we live in.
Of Mind and Other Matters defends what Goodman calls a ‘constructivist’ philosophy. It is at once a philosophy of science, a philosophy of art, and a philosophy of cognition… Its central thesis, ‘constructivism,’ is that, contrary to common sense, there is no unique ‘real world’ that preexists and is independent of human mental activity and human symbolic language… Goodman puts the case well for the relevance of his views for the cognitive analysis of worldmaking through the arts.
A series of works, wide in their sweep and often provocative in their argument, have established Nelson Goodman as an important and influential philosopher… For those interested in Goodman’s work (as who should not be) [Of Mind and Other Matters] is essential reading.
The content and style of this book, though definitely not acid free, are a superb expression of strength and durability.
[Goodman’s] ideas are already being tested in anthropological studies of symbol systems, in semiotics, music theory, architecture, studies of visual and pictorial communication, psychology, and aesthetics, as well as in his ‘original’ fields—logic, linguistics, and philosophy of science… Criticism and theory are badly in need of the rigor Goodman has to offer. Of Mind and Other Matters…does provide a dazzling array of Goodman’s leading themes, and it illustrates once again the remarkable applicability of his thought to the entire range of problems we call ‘criticism and theory.’
- 224 pages
- 6-1/4 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
From this author
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