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Categories of the Temporal: An Inquiry into the Forms of the Finite Intellect

by Sebastian Rödl and Sibylle Salewski Harvard University Press
Pub Date:
Hbk 232 pages
AU$97.00 NZ$100.00
Product Status: Not Our Publication - we no longer distribute
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The publication of Fregeas Begriffsschrift in 1879 forever altered the landscape for many Western philosophers. Here, Sebastian RA¶dl traces how the Fregean influence, written all over the development and present state of analytic philosophy, led into an unholy alliance of an empiricist conception of sensibility with an inferentialist conception of thought. According to RA¶dl, Wittgenstein responded to the implosion of Fregeas principle that the nature of thought consists in its inferential order, but his Philosophical Investigations shied away from offering an alternative. RA¶dl takes up the challenge by turning to Kant and Aristotle as ancestors of this tradition, and in doing so identifies its unacknowledged question: the relation of judgment and truth to time. RA¶dl finds in the thought of these two men the answer he urges us to consider: the temporal and the sensible, and the atemporal and the intelligible, are aspects of one reality and cannot be understood independently of one another. In demonstrating that an investigation into the categories of the temporal can be undertaken as a contribution to logic, RA¶dl seeks to transform simultaneously our philosophical understanding of both logic and time.
Isaiah Berlin once responded to a question about what he thought of a certain philosophical work by saying 'it is both good and original. But where it is good it is not original and where it is original it is not good.' Categories of the Temporal is that rare work of philosophy which is the one where it is the other. One seldom reads something this substantial by a contemporary philosophical author that manages to be at the same time so remarkably philosophically ambitious and yet so remarkably successful in living up to the very ambitions it sets itself. Success of that form is the mark of a classic. James Conant, University of Chicago RA¶dl here boldly challenges the most fundamental and simultaneously the most obscure concepts in philosophy. He reexamines in their most abstract form the logical categories deep at the heart of temporal thought, questioning major theses such as Frege's idea that certain deductive calculus is a demonstration of the very form of thought itself. RA¶dl's major feat is to name directly and thus clear the air of such dangers as the lack of clarity long tolerated in Wittgenstein's substitution of the term 'grammar' for 'logic.' After arduous preparation, RA¶dl makes his major stand, questioning directly not the 'difference' but the 'connection' between judgment and truth. He then explores the contributions of the categories of temporal thought and logic as they act in league with each other, proposing that philosophy originates along with thought as it comes to recognize its peculiar relation to time. Thought must relate either directly or indirectly to intuition. Philosophical activity thus is prized as a special kind of achievement involving a search for truth endemic to humans as temporal creatures. This volumeaa daring undertakingasucceeds through fine-tuned argument, neatly expressed. Kudos to the translator for skillfully maintaining the flow and continuity of such complex argumentation. J. M. Boyle Choice
Sebastian Rödl is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Leipzig.