Books

Gottlob Frege Heidegger’s Crisis Wittgenstein Politics and the Search for the Common Good The Cambridge Companion to Wittgenstein, second edition, (edited together with David Stern)

 

Book descriptions

Gottlob Frege

Gottlob Frege (1848-1925) was the creator of a new logic that has come to replace Aristotle’s syllogistic logic accepted as definitive for more than 2,000 years. The book examines the historical sources of Frege’s work and, in particular, its relation to Leibniz, Kant, and the Neo-Kantian tradition in philosophy. In tracing this ancestry, it seeks to show how we can understand logic itself in historical terms and avoid an appeal to a supposedly timeless realm of concepts or “Reason.” The book positions itself critically, in this way, against the pre-dominantly anti-historicist view-point of the analytic tradition in philosophy of which Frege was a founding figure.

Heidegger’s Crisis

Martin Heidegger’s alliance with Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime has remained a contested issue ever since 1933, tainting both the man and his work. A legion of scholars has sought to show how Heidegger’s political engagement came out of the deepest resources of his philosophy. Heidegger’s Crisis sets out to change this debate by refocusing it, in a Foucauldian spirit, on the whole discipline of philosophy in the Nazi period. It turns out that numerous other German philosophers (many of them now forgotten) engaged themselves with the Nazis and did so just as deeply or even more deeply than Heidegger. Since they came from different philosophical traditions, this suggests that their motivations were not due specific elements of their individual philosophizing, but arose from a set of assumptions they shared. Heidegger’s Crisis identifies these common assumptions as the belief that Europe (or “the West”) was caught in a deep, world-historical crisis, that the crisis had its center in Germany, and that it was a crisis of thought or values that could be resolved only by philosophical engagement, not through practical, political maneuverings alone.


Wittgenstein

The book seeks to give an overview of Wittgenstein’s philosophical thought. In doing so it proposes a series of new interpretations of Wittgenstein’s major philosophical ideas and it does so by asking again and again how Wittgenstein’s thought may contribute to a critical understanding of our social existence.

Politics and the Search for the Common Good

The book challenges the assumption that there exists a single determinate common good which politics is meant to realize. It argues that politics is not inherent in human nature but a historically contingent process in which we struggle in ever new ways to define a common good. The book contrasts, thus, two traditions in political philosophy: a “normative theorizing” that extends from Plato to John Rawls and a newer “diagnostic practice” that emerged with Marx and Nietzsche and has found prominent twentieth-century practitioners in Carl Schmitt, Hannah Arendt, and Michel Foucault. Where normative theorizing seeks to identify political a common good through abstract philosophical reasoning, the diagnostic practice looks closely at the political realities and endeavors to draw practical conclusions from an understanding of their historical conditions. The book examines not only the sources of diagnostic political thinking, it also attempts to analyze its achievements and offers a critical assessment of its
limitations.

The Cambridge Companion to Wittgenstein, second edition, (edited together with David Stern)

The first edition of this book was published in 1996 and has become one of the most successful volumes is Cambridge’s companions to philosophy series. It contained fourteen essays addressed to central themes in Wittgenstein’s writings on the philosophy of mind, language, logic, and mathematics written by internationally recognized scholars. In this second edition, which appeared in January of 2018, we have replaced four essays with five new ones covering additional topics from Wittgenstein’s early thinking about ethics, through his thoughts on time and history, to his later concern with the seeing of aspects. We have also updated the bibliography and have now a volume that should be of fresh interest to readers of Wittgenstein’s work

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