Fate, Time, and Language An Essay on Free Will

ISBN-10: 0231151578
ISBN-13: 9780231151573
Edition: 2011
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Description: Long before he probed the workings of time, human choice, and human frailty in Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace wrote a brilliant philosophical critique of Richard Taylor's argument for fatalism. In 1962, Taylor used six commonly accepted  More...

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Book details

List price: $14.95
Copyright year: 2011
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 2/1/2011
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 264
Size: 5.50" wide x 8.25" long x 0.50" tall
Weight: 0.638

Long before he probed the workings of time, human choice, and human frailty in Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace wrote a brilliant philosophical critique of Richard Taylor's argument for fatalism. In 1962, Taylor used six commonly accepted presuppositions to imply that humans have no control over the future. Not only did Wallace take issue with Taylor's method, which, according to him, scrambled the relations of logic, language, and the physical world, but he also called out a semantic trick at the heart of Taylor's argument.Wallace was a great skeptic of abstract thinking made to function as a negation of something more genuine and real. He was especially suspicious of certain paradigms of thought-the cerebral aestheticism of modernism, the clever gimmickry of postmodernism-that abandoned "the very old traditional human verities that have to do with spirituality and emotion and community." As Wallace rises to meet the challenge to free will presented by Taylor (and a number of other philosophical heavyweights), we experience the developing perspective of this major novelist, along with the beginning of his lifelong struggle to establish solid logical ground for his soaring convictions. This volume reproduces Taylor's original article and other works on fatalism cited by Wallace in his critique. James Ryerson, an editor at the New York Times Magazine, draws parallels in his introduction between Wallace's early work in philosophy and the themes and explorations of his fiction.A companion website, www.davidfosterwallace-fate-time-language.net, established by Maureen Eckert, will feature interviews with philosophers and avid Wallace fans on the import of his arguments.

Writer David Foster Wallace was born in Ithaca, New York on February 21, 1962. He received a B.A. from Amherst College in Massachusetts. He was working on his master's degree in creative writing at the University of Arizona when he published his debut novel The Broom of the System (1987). Wallace published his second novel Infinite Jest (1996) which introduced a cast of characters that included recovering alcoholics, foreign statesmen, residents of a halfway house, and high-school tennis stars. He spent four years researching and writing this novel. His first collection of short stories was Girl with Curious Hair (1989). He also published a nonfiction work titled Signifying Rappers: Rap and Race in the Urban Present. He committed suicide on September 12, 2008 at the age of 46 after suffering with bouts of depression for 20 years.

Preface
Introduction: A Head That Throbbed Heartlike: The Philosophical Mind of David Foster Wallace
The Background
Introduction
Fatalism
Professor Taylor on Fatalism
Fatalism and Ability
Fatalism and Ability II
Fatalism and Linguistic Reform
Fatalism and Professor Taylor
Taylor's Fatal Fallacy
A Note on Fatalism
Tautology and Fatalism
Fatalistic Arguments
Comment
Fatalism and Ordinary Language
Fallacies in Taylor's "Fatalism"
The Essay
Renewing the Fatalist Conversation
Richard Taylor's "Fatalism" and the Semantics of Physical Modality
Epilogue
David Foster Wallace as Student: A Memoir
Appendix: The Problem of Future Contingencies

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