The Evolution of Modern Metaphysics: Making Sense of Things


This book is concerned with the history of metaphysics since Descartes. Taking as its definition of metaphysics 'the most general attempt to make sense of things', it charts the evolution of this enterprise through various competing conceptions of its possibility, scope, and limits. The book is divided into three parts, dealing respectively with the early modern period, the late modern period in the analytic tradition, and the late modern period in non-analytic traditions. In its unusually wide range, A. W. ...
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The Evolution of Modern Metaphysics

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This book is concerned with the history of metaphysics since Descartes. Taking as its definition of metaphysics 'the most general attempt to make sense of things', it charts the evolution of this enterprise through various competing conceptions of its possibility, scope, and limits. The book is divided into three parts, dealing respectively with the early modern period, the late modern period in the analytic tradition, and the late modern period in non-analytic traditions. In its unusually wide range, A. W. Moore's study refutes the tired old cliché that there is some unbridgeable gulf between analytic philosophy and philosophy of other kinds. It also advances its own distinctive and compelling conception of what metaphysics is and why it matters. Moore explores how metaphysics can help us to cope with continually changing demands on our humanity by making sense of things in ways that are radically new.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This huge book is an extraordinary piece of work, showing a quite exceptional range of learning and depth of thought. Moore attempts nothing less than a synoptic account of the ways in which leading philosophers since Descartes have viewed metaphysics. But the book is not a survey: a strong narrative thread, plus a novel and powerful conception of the task of metaphysics, links Moore's discussion of such diverse thinkers as Hume, Kant, Frege, Nietzsche, Lewis and Deleuze (to take only a few examples) into a coherent picture of the development of the subject. The book is written with Moore's customary clarity and panache, full of penetrating insights, lucid exposition of difficult ideas, and provocative challenges to the conventional wisdom. There will be something here to stimulate everyone interested in metaphysics, whatever their philosophical background. The Evolution of Modern Metaphysics is a quite unique work: original, bold, and fascinating."
- Tim Crane, University of Cambridge

"Not since Russell's History of Western Philosophy has a major Anglophone thinker attempted to make accessible sense of the many kinds of obscurity that philosophers have contrived to produce in their efforts to write under the title of 'metaphysics.' Russell's book hails from a generation which was famously dismissive of everything it called 'continental' in philosophy. Among the many achievements of A. W. Moore's remarkable book is that it shows why we can leave that behind us. The Evolution of Modern Metaphysics should make a real contribution to the formation of a philosophical culture better informed of its history and no longer riven by absurd and absurdly simplistic divisions."
- Simon Glendinning, European Institute, London School of Economics

"One might fairly say that Adrian Moore's telling of the story of The Evolution of Modern Metaphysics represents a truly monumental achievement, as extraordinary in the generosity of its scope and the breadth of its learning as it is in its sensitivity to the many possibly shifting nuances of its own self-expression. But if the term 'monumental' is suggestive of something carved out of heavily immovable stone, it would be utterly misleading. Moore, no mean meta-metaphysician himself, constantly challenges his readers to join him and his exceptionally varied cast of fellow seekers after meaningfulness in thinking always anew as to what sense there may be to the deeply human project of 'making sense of things' -and about why such sense as may be there to be found, may turn out not to be statable in terms of truth-seeking propositions. It is a story that makes for an inevitably long and at times undeniably strenuous read; but the effort is infinitely worthwhile."
- Alan Montefiore, London School of Economics

"Ambitious" is a word that crosses one's mind as one reads A.W. Moore's The Evolution of Modern Metaphysics: Making Sense of Things.... The Evolution of Modern Metaphysics represents an extremely impressive achievement. It largely succeeds at a dauntingly difficult task, and should become one of the go-to books for graduate students preparing for prelims. It can also serve as a useful reference work one can dip into for refreshers or guidance into unexplored territory. Finally, it stands as indisputable evidence that the barriers separating contemporary philosophers only do so with our support."
-Lee Braver, Hiram College, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

" unusual book.... Those who know the history of modem philosophy, plus a good part of recent professional commentary, may find some insightful, always learned exposition and critical appraisal. Extensive bibliography and useful index.... Recommended..."
-R T. Lee, emeritus, Trinity College, CHOICE

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521616553
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 1/31/2012
  • Series: The Evolution of Modern Philosophy
  • Pages: 500
  • Sales rank: 801,987
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 1.54 (d)

Meet the Author

A. W. Moore is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oxford and Tutorial Fellow of St Hugh's College, Oxford. He is the author of three previous books: The Infinite (1990); Points of View (1997); and Noble in Reason, Infinite in Faculty: Themes and Variations in Kant's Moral and Religious Philosophy (2003). He is also the editor or co-editor of several anthologies and his articles and reviews have appeared in numerous other scholarly publications.
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Table of Contents

Preface; Introduction; Part I. The Early Modern Period: 1. Descartes: metaphysics in the service of science; 2. Spinoza: metaphysics in the service of ethics; 3. Leibniz: metaphysics in the service of theodicy; 4. Hume: metaphysics committed to the flames?; 5. Kant: the possibility, scope, and limits of metaphysics; 6. Fichte: transcendentalism versus naturalism; 7. Hegel: transcendentalism-cum-naturalism; or, absolute idealism; Part II. The Late Modern Period I: The Analytic Tradition: 8. Frege: sense under scrutiny; 9. The early Wittgenstein: the possibility, scope, and limits of sense; or, sense, senselessness, and nonsense; 10. The later Wittgenstein: bringing words back from their metaphysical to their everyday use; 11. Carnap: the elimination of metaphysics?; 12. Quine: the ne plus ultra of naturalism; 13. Lewis: metaphysics in the service of philosophy; 14. Dummett: the logical basis of metaphysics; Part III. The Late Modern Period II: Non-Analytic Traditions: 15. Nietzsche: sense under scrutiny again; 16. Bergson: metaphysics as pure creativity; 17. Husserl: making sense of making sense; 18. Heidegger: letting being be; 19. Collingwood: metaphysics as history; 20. Derrida: metaphysics deconstructed?; 21. Deleuze: something completely different; Conclusion.
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