“A remarkable book capable of reshaping what one takes philosophy to be.”
Cora Diamond, Kenan Professor of Philosophy Emerita, University of Virginia
Could there be a logical aliena being whose ways of talking, inferring, and contradicting exhibit an entirely different logical shape than ours, yet who nonetheless is thinking? Could someone, contrary to the most basic rules of logic, think that two contradictory statements are both true at the same time? Such questions may seem outlandish, but they serve to highlight a fundamental philosophical question: is our logical form of thought merely one among many, or must it be the form of thought as such?
From Descartes and Kant to Frege and Wittgenstein, philosophers have wrestled with variants of this question, and with a range of competing answers. A seminal 1991 paper, James Conant’s “The Search for Logically Alien Thought,” placed that question at the forefront of contemporary philosophical inquiry. The Logical Alien, edited by Sofia Miguens, gathers Conant’s original article with reflections on it by eight distinguished philosophersJocelyn Benoist, Matthew Boyle, Martin Gustafsson, Arata Hamawaki, Adrian Moore, Barry Stroud, Peter Sullivan, and Charles Travis. Conant follows with a wide-ranging response that places the philosophical discussion in historical context, critiques his original paper, addresses the exegetical and systematic issues raised by others, and presents an alternative account.
The Logical Alien challenges contemporary conceptions of how logical and philosophical form must each relate to their content. This monumental volume offers the possibility of a new direction in philosophy.
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About the Author
Sofia Miguens is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Porto, where she leads the Mind, Language, and Action group at the Institute of Philosophy. She is the author of seven books and former president of the Portuguese Philosophical Association.
James Conant is Chester D. Tripp Professor of Humanities at the University of Chicago.
Charles Travis is Professor Emeritus at King’s College London and Professor Afiliado at the Universidade do Porto.
Table of Contents
Part I The Bounds of Judgment
Introduction to Part I: Basic Necessities (or: The Shape of Thought) Charles Travis Sofia Miguens 3
The Search for Logically Alien Thought: Descartes, Kant, Frege, and the Tractatus James Conant 27
What Descartes Ought to Have Thought about Modality A. W. Moore 101
Kant on Logic and the Laws of the Understanding Matthew Boyle 117
Cartesian Skepticism, Kantian Skepticism, and Two Conceptions of Self-Consciousness Arata Hamawaki 145
Logical Aliens and the "Ground" of Logical Necessity Barry Stroud 170
Varieties of Alien Thought Peter Sullivan 183
Wittgenstein on Using Language and Playing Chess: The Breakdown of an Analogy and Its Consequences Martin Gustafsson 202
Where Words Fail Charles Travis 222
Alien Meaning and Alienated Meaning Jocelyn Benoist 281
Part II The Logical Alien Revisited: Afterthoughts and Responses
Introduction to Part II: On How History of Philosophy Can Be Illuminating Sofia Miguens 295
Replies James Conant
Section I Who Is the Author of These Afterthoughts and Responses? 321
Section II A History of Philosophy That Challenges Contemporary Preconceptions 328
Section III Some Aspects of Conant's Version of the History 363
Section IV Theological Sources of Modern Conceptions of Logic 376
Section V Leibnizian versus Kantian Conceptions of Logic 405
Section VI A Resolute Reading of Descartes 469
Section VII Reply to Moore: Descartes on the Relation of the Possible to the Actual 537
Section VIII Reply to Boyle: Kant on the Relation of a Rational Capacity to Its Acts 574
Section IX Reply to Hamawaki: On the Relation of Cartesian to Kantian Skepticism and the Relation of Consciousness to Self-Consciousness 648
Section X Reply to Hamawaki and Stroud on Transcendental Arguments, Idealism, and the Kantian Solution of the Problem of Philosophy 758
Section XI Reply to Stroud on Kant and Frege: On the Relation of Thought to Judgment 783
Section XII Reply to Sullivan: Frege on the Priority of Logic to Everything 830
Section XIII Reply to Gustafsson: Wittgenstein on the Relation of Sign to Symbol 863
Section XIV Reply to Travis: Wittgenstein on the Non-Relation of Thinking to Being 948
Section XV Reply to Benoist: Wittgenstein on the Relation of Language to Life 984
Index Of Names 1051
Index Of Subjects 1057