Donald Davidson: A Short Introduction

Donald Davidson: A Short Introduction

Donald Davidson: A Short Introduction

Donald Davidson: A Short Introduction

Synopsis

Donald Davidson was one of the 20th Century's deepest analytic thinkers. He developed a systematic picture of the human mind and its relation to the world, an original and sustained vision that exerted a shaping influence well beyond analytic philosophy of mind and language. At its center isan idea of minded creatures as essentially rational animals: Rational animals can be interpreted, their behavior can be understood, and the contents of their thoughts are, in principle, open to others. The combination of a rigorous analytic stance with aspects of humanism so distinctive of Davidsonian thought finds its maybe most characteristic expression when this central idea is brought to bear on the relation of the mental to the physical: Davidson defended the irreducibility of its rational nature while acknowledging that the mental is ultimately determined by the physical.Davidson made contributions of lasting importance to a wide range of topics -- from general theory of meaning and content over formal semantics, the theories of truth, explanation, and action, to metaphysics and epistemology. His writings almost entirely consist of short, elegant, and often wittypapers. These dense and thematically tightly interwoven essays present a profound challenge to the reader.This book provides a concise, systematic introduction to all the main elements of Davidson's philosophy. It places the theory of meaning and content at the very center of his thought. By using interpretation, and the interpreter, as key ideas it clearly brings out the underlying structure andunified nature of Davidson's work. Kathrin Gluer carefully outlines his principal claims and arguments, and discusses them in some detail. The book thus makes Davidson's thought accessible in its genuine depth, and acquaints the reader with the main lines of discussion surrounding it.

Excerpt

This book aims at providing a short and crisp introduction to the philosophy of one of the twentieth century’s deepest analytic thinkers: Donald Davidson. It is based on an earlier, shorter book written in German: Donald Davidson zur Einführung (Hamburg: Junius Verlag, 1993). What most clearly remains from the earlier version is the basic idea of the overarching shape and design of Davidson’s wide-ranging but highly interconnected work. Using the radical interpreter as a guide results in the rather straightforward, systematic structure of both books. I have substantially rewritten and updated large parts of the original, however. Of course I have also corrected mistakes—and no doubt made some new ones.

Of all the people who have helped me along the way, I would like to especially mention these: Donald Davidson was always there and most generously answered all my questions when I was working on the German version. Daglinm Føllesdal was a most discerning early reader and thoughtful critic. John Perry not only rediscovered the book, but also most kindly helped with getting the present version on its way. And Peter Pagin provided most valuable comments and support at all times.

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