Mind, Method, and Morality: Essays in Honour of Anthony Kenny

Mind, Method, and Morality: Essays in Honour of Anthony Kenny

Mind, Method, and Morality: Essays in Honour of Anthony Kenny

Mind, Method, and Morality: Essays in Honour of Anthony Kenny

Synopsis

Sir Anthony Kenny is one of the most distinguished and prolific philosophers of our time. In the wide range and historical breadth of his interests, he has influenced many parts of the philosophical landscape, especially in the philosophy of mind and the theory of human action and responsibility. In contrast to many of his contemporaries, who have played down philosophy's debt to its past, Kenny's work has always been rooted in the great tradition of Western philosophical inquiry. Mind, Method and Morality celebrates Kenny's work by focusing on the four great philosophers to whom Kenny has given special attention, namely Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, and Wittgenstein. It contains sixteen essays (four on each philosopher) written by leading specialists in the relevant area. Strongly linked together by their focus on philosophy of mind, action and responsibility, the papers make a significant contribution to those areas of philosophy that Kenny has made particularly his own, and constitute a timely celebration of his work. While keeping to the highest standards of scholarship and philosophical rigour, the volume aims to be engaging and comprehensible to a wide audience, thus mirroring the clarity and accessibility that are the hallmarks of Kenny's own philosophical writings. A preface by the Editors describes Anthony Kenny's philosophical career, and the volume also includes a complete bibliography of his writings.

Excerpt

Anthony Kenny is one of the most distinguished and prolific philosophers of our time. in virtue of the wide range and historical breadth of his interests, he has had a significant influence on many parts of philosophy. Diverging from the approach of many of his contemporaries who have often ignored or played down philosophy’s debt to its past, Kenny’s work has always been rooted in the great tradition of Western philosophical inquiry, and has been marked by meticulous scholarly attention to the texts and ideas of the canonical writers of that tradition.

Kenny’s philosophical achievement over the past forty-five years has been extraordinary. in the course of this long career as a writer he has written, translated, and edited over sixty-five books and published many dozens of articles. This would be an amazing feat had teaching and writing been his sole vocation. But it is even more astonishing given that for half of these forty-five years he successively filled the roles of Master of Balliol, member of the governing council of Oxford University, Delegate to, and member of the finance committee of, Oxford University Press, Warden of Rhodes House, President of the British Academy, Chairman of the British Library Board, and Pro-Vice Chancellor for Development at the University of Oxford. It was during these twenty-three years of public service to Balliol, Oxford University, and Britain that he also wrote or edited roughly forty of his sixty-five books.

The range and depth of Anthony Kenny’s writings is no less impressive than their number. the philosophical subjects closest to his heart, and to which he has made major contributions, have been the philosophy of psychology, moral psychology, and philosophy of action, on the one hand, and philosophical theology, on the other. His first philosophy book was Action, Emotion and the Will (1963), which rapidly became a classic in its field. It was written in the spirit of the innovatory philosophy of mind that had developed in the 1950s in the wake of Wittgenstein and Ryle—sharing the lucidity of the latter and profundity of the former. However, unlike those two masters—the one a genius, the other the finest Oxford philosopher of his day—Kenny’s writings were already informed by an unusual awareness of the history of the subject. He displayed the ability to articulate the insights of great thinkers of the remote past, in this case Aristotle and Aquinas, to render them intelligible to modern readers, and to apply them to the philosophical problems that bedevil us.

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