Transcendentalism never came to an end in America. It just went underground for a stretch, but is back in full force in Robert Brandom’s new book. Brandom takes up Kant and Hegel and explores their contemporary significance as if little time had expired since intellectuals gathered around Emerson in Concord to discuss reason and idealism, selves, freedom, and community. Brandom’s discussion belongs to a venerable tradition that distinguishes us as rational animals, and philosophy by its concern to understand, articulate, and explain the notion of reason that is thereby cast in that crucial demarcating role.
An emphasis on our capacity to reason, rather than merely to represent, has been growing in philosophy over the last thirty years, and Robert Brandom has been at the center of this development. Reason in Philosophy is the first book that gives a succinct overview of his understanding of the role of reason as the structure at once of our minds and our meanings—what constitutes us as free, responsible agents. The job of philosophy is to introduce concepts and develop expressive tools for expanding our self-consciousness as sapients: explicit awareness of our discursive activity of thinking and acting, in the sciences, politics, and the arts. This is a paradigmatic work of contemporary philosophy.
[An] important book…Brandom is an important philosopher with astonishingly systematic scope.
Brandom is one of the great, original thinkers of our era, and this book is vintage Brandom… Brandom demonstrates how some central ideas of the idealism of Kant and Hegel have retained their power to animate receptive and imaginative philosophical minds even today.
Brandom’s expertise ranges over a bewildering array of topics, from philosophical logic and semantics to cognitive science and political philosophy, and his ability to integrate positions in these areas within a single philosophical framework is remarkable.
Reason in Philosophy provides the first systematic, comprehensive, and accessible introduction to the work of Brandom, one of the most influential philosophers working in metaphysics and epistemology today. This exciting collection of essays delivers a powerful, elegant argument for a version of a currently unfashionable view—a transcendentally inflected rationalism—and also provides readers with a mature philosopher’s carefully reasoned, fully felt philosophical framework.
This book represents a new collection of papers by one of the most important systematic philosophical thinkers of our time. As such it will be welcomed by those already familiar with Brandom’s thought. At the same time, by connecting his views to familiar historical themes, Brandom has provided what is, to my mind, the most accessible route into his often dauntingly complex ideas, a route strongly recommended to those new to his work.
This work is a formidable achievement that demonstrates deep historical knowledge and awesome hermeneutic and systematic philosophical powers that, in this degree, are conjoined at best in a handful of people alive. This is in every way a superior work of philosophy, and shows why Robert Brandom holds a singular position in the discipline worldwide.
- 248 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Belknap Press
From this author
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