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Making It Explicit: Reasoning, Representing & Discursive Commitment: Reasoning, Representing and Discursive Commitment Paperback – 30 Oct 1998

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Product details

  • Paperback: 762 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; New Ed edition (30 Oct. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674543300
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674543300
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.8 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 141,473 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Making It Explicit has already developed a justified reputation as a major contribution to the philosophy of language. It takes the traditional ill-fitting story of the relationship between language and the world and turns it upside down. Instead of starting with the existence of the world and explaining what it is for language to represent the world, it starts with language and explains what it is for the world to be represented by language...With tremendous panache, he launches into accounts of normativity, inference, meaning, truth, reference and objectivity, trying to show that the later concepts in that list are made intelligible by the earlier. -- Rowland Stout Times Literary Supplement Making It Explicit is a landmark in theoretical philosophy comparable to that constituted in the early seventies by A Theory of Justice in practical philosophy...Drawing upon the resources furnished by his intricate theory of language, Brandom succeeds in offering a thoroughly convincing description of the practices within which beings capable of language and action express their rationality and autonomy. -- Jurgen Habermas Wahrheit und Rechtfertigung Robert Brandom's magnificent book is an attempt to rework the whole of the philosophy of language in terms of normative, socially articulated pragmatics. His approach, inferentialism, which he traces through Kant and Frege to Wittgenstein and Sellars, is opposed to a more standard approach, representationalism...Making It Explicit is written with an exhilarating argumentative relish and tremendous assurance and thoroughness. -- Rowland Stout Mind Robert Brandom's Making it Explicit is an unusual book on the Anglo-American scene...What Brandom achieves is a convincing elaboration of the view of intentionality as a linguistic, normative and social-pragmatic affair...Brandom's book is the first detailed elaboration of the position that it is normative attitudes which distinguishes us, insofar as we are thinking and acting beings, from the physical. It will hopefully contribute to giving that position the attention it deserves in contemporary philosophy of mind. -- Michael Epsfield Erkenntnis 19990101

About the Author

Robert B. Brandom is Distinguished Professor in the Department of Philosophy, University of Pittsburgh.

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Everything went smooth: the delivery was fast, the packaging was good and the book... just wonderful, Brandom is one of the greatest philosopher of the century.

You can't fail with this puppy.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9ade1c84) out of 5 stars 11 reviews
39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b3d875c) out of 5 stars Culminates a venerable analytic philosophical tradition. 25 Oct. 1999
By James Bogen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Brandom deals with a number of outstanding problems in philosphy of language, epistemology, and philosophy of mind as these came to be construed by several generations of analytic philosophy beginning with Frege and continuing through Quine, Davidson, and Dummett. His solutions fall out of a Sellarsian theory grounded in the idea that meaning, inference, and epistemic justification are grounded in norms governing social interactions and practices. Brandom's treatment of standard questions of reference which have plagued us since Russell are particularly original and ingenious. Like the rest of his themes, this account is developed in detail with admirable rigor and honesty. Difficult but indespensible reading.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b3d8ea0) out of 5 stars A Groundbreaking Work 14 Sept. 2011
By Sigurd Jorem - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I spent three months of my life reading this book, trying to grasp every little detail. That was half a year ago. Now I find myself reading it again, equally satisfied with every step of argument Brandom makes, even if I am more able to view those steps critically. This is a difficult and demanding book to read. If you have the time, discipline and devotion to work your way through it, I cannot imagine that you will not be rewarded. Because of the radical character of Brandom's project (replace representation with inference; natural regularities with normative pragmatics etc.), he has to be almost excessively thorough in his argument to meet the dialectical demands. Thus, the theory--which is really about semantic content, but touches upon many features of intentionality--is built from the ground up, and aims ultimately to answer how our intentional states and expressions can come to contain objective representational content. Making it Explicit answers that in a manner originally due to Kant (by analyzing the conditions for the possibility of such content), but the conditions he accords that status are nothing like Kantian forms of cognition. Instead we get a normatively pragmatic and social-perspectival account of how states and expressions are treated with content, how, in extension, norms and status are instituted that outrun the "scorekeepers'" attitudes. The conceptual content states and expressions come to contain, are analyzed as being identified inferentially (inferential role semantics). The account of the inferential structure of content is satisfyingly detailed, and takes up the most space in Making it Explicit. It contains three levels, corresponding to 1) the propositional, 2) the sub-sentential conceptual, and 3) the conceptual content of non-repeatable tokenings of linguistic expressions. The inferential dimensions answering to these three levels are 1) ordinary inference, 2) substitutional inference, 3) anaphoric chains.

It is easy for me to say that this is a "must-read" book, but that would not be fair in consideration of its length and difficulty. What I can say is that anyone who has the opportunity to embark on the project of reading it will come out enlightened and enriched.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b01babc) out of 5 stars Why isn't this book being discussed more widely? 15 Jun. 2011
By Kurt Wischin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book shines a new light on everything that matters in 20th century philosophy and, hence, on almost everything that matters in modern philosophy before it. Juergen Habermas rightfully recommends it (in "Wahrheit und Rechtfertigung"). It fruitfully brings together the linguistic turn and pragmatic philosophy, continuing in this sense the work of Richard Rorty, but in much more detail, und hence offering a deeper understanding of the topics at issue. It is not an easy read. But, as Wittgenstein used to say: Philosophy is not (that) easy.

I think this book should be would as a must read for students of contemporary philosophy.Wahrheit Und Rechtfertigung
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a979eac) out of 5 stars The Big Book 15 Mar. 2004
By Jeffrey Rubard - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Robert Brandom's *Making It Explicit* is a fantastically interesting book. Like his mentor Richard Rorty, Brandom thought long and hard about the pragmatist tradition, "deflationary" accounts of philosophical concepts like truth and reference, and the contested legacy of G.W.F. Hegel before writing this book; what resulted is a vast work rather unlike anything in either the analytic or continental camps to date. People used to exciting conjecture about the metaphysics of natural science, or animadversions on morality, from analytic philosophers will not like it. People, perhaps coming from the social sciences, who wonder what a "social practice account" of intentionality and related notions would be will find it fascinating and instructive. Brandom begins with the contention that linguistic or "social" intentionality explains the mindedness of the individual, rather than the other way around, and runs up 650 pages explaining why it is so and how it is so.

The prerequisites for reading *Making It Explicit* are rather few; the reader must have encountered Frege and the later Wittgenstein, for these figures are so central to the book's account that Brandom cannot fully spell out their importance for the argument. With slightly dimmer stars, however, Brandom's synoptic account of thought and language usefully locates them within his pragmatist panorama; if you have heard of "reliabilism", "externalism", or "anti-Cartesianism", sections in the book patiently and carefully explain the steak and not the sizzle of these philosophical views. A tantalizing quote from Hegel's *Phenomenology* offers a clue to the book's title, but the importance of Hegelian "mediation" for Brandom's "inferentialism" emerges, quite appropriately, from the whole. The *Phenomenology* ignores no realist objection to Absolute Idealism, and Brandom spends a great deal of time talking about just how his rationalism can "comprehend all reality".

A few notes: at this early stage in his career, Brandom was not quite fair to his Pittsburgh colleague John McDowell, who appears in the book solely as an "intuition pump" for intellectually hygenic philosophy; and although he has gone on to examine the core of de rigeur analysis, modal logic and modally-inflected arguments, in *Between Saying and Doing* "intensions" make only the briefest of appearances here. However, slightly older philosophical luminaries (like Davidson and Michael Dummett) make frequent appearances and Brandom avoids the pitfalls of being an epigone; the resonances between his "giving and asking for reasons" and their positions are very interesting. Non-philosophical intellectuals may be cheered to hear that the book has gratifying overtones of G.H. Mead's masterpiece *Mind, Self, and Society*: "taking the attitude of the other" is just what Brandom's "deontic scorekeeping" amounts to.

Not airplane reading; essential reading for people who want to understand what the contemporary intellectual world is about. Begin your philosophical recovery today.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9aba415c) out of 5 stars The best way to describe his style briefly is to call ... 24 Nov. 2014
By Kathleen Wolffe - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this massive work, Brandom presents a truly original approach to language. Essentially, this project consists of an attempt to account for the workings of language without relying on the traditional concepts of reference and representation, which so often present us with seemingly unsolvable puzzles. He begins with an account of language in social life and then describes how processes of social interaction, and mental organization & tracking of conceptual commitments of other individuals (what he calls "deontic scorekeeping") can explain the emergence of semantic meanings. In doing so he attempts to bridge the gap between semantics and pragmatics, describe how individual words contribute to sentence meaning, account for the behavior of indexicals, explicate the nature of logic, and explain what the actual cognitive effects of a language are insofar as the language is understood by its interlocutors. He does all this with varying degrees of success, but one things for sure: his views are unique and stimulating, especially when one realizes that in recent decades the philosophy of language has really stagnated. The best way to briefly describe his style is to characterize it as sociologically or anthropologically oriented philosophy of language (with a cognitive bent). Its not at all like the work of say Kripke or Chomsky, but more akin to say Searle or Lakkoff.

As for his influences, Brandom's theories are heavily informed by Kant, Frege, Wittgenstein, Michael Dummet, Wilfrid Sellars, Donald Davidson, and John McDowell. I would recommend that one be rather familiar with the work of at least a couple of these philosophers, and analytic philosophy of language in general, before delving into this book.

Although this is a great book, its not a true masterpiece. For one thing the writing is needlessly difficult, even more so that many continental philosophers. He never really achieves or even aims for clarity, and his arguments are often difficult to follow. Reading the work, I often had the impression that he was attempting to sound poetic and deep, but he just comes off like a high school student who is simply trying to hard, if you know what I mean. Also, his account of logic seems to be an implicit form psychologism, verging on social constructivism, which doesn't at all sit right (thankfully his theory of logic isn't particularly convincing). He also never really brings all his disparate ideas together. One can certainly see a common theme in all his claims, but he never really relates them to one another or unifies them into a single theory, even though this is quite obviously what he's attempting to do.
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