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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.Read more
- Charts the history of metaphysics in the modern era, but at the same time it advances its own distinctive and compelling conception of what metaphysics is and of why it matters
- Has a unique and impressive range: it discusses, in depth, twenty-one philosophers from milieux and traditions that are very rarely considered together
- Helps to combat the tired old cliché that there is some unbridgeable gulf between analytic philosophy and philosophy of other kinds. It deals with thinkers on both sides of this supposed divide, indicating the relevance of each to the other
- Introduces analytic philosophers to one of the greatest twentieth-century French thinkers, Gilles Deleuze, whose unfamiliar style and range can make him seem inaccessible and alien to them
Reviews & endorsements
"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 CambridgeSee more reviews
"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, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
"… an 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, Choice
"… a bold and engaging book, opening up much fertile ground for future work. I highly recommend a close reading of it."
Analysis and Metaphysics
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- Date Published: January 2014
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9780521616553
- length: 692 pages
- dimensions: 229 x 152 x 39 mm
- weight: 1kg
- contains: 1 table
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
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
Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses
- Historical Introduction to Western Philosophy
- Selected Topics: Philosophy and Moden Politics
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