Essays on Actions and Events

Essays on Actions and Events

Essays on Actions and Events

Essays on Actions and Events

Synopsis


"This is one of the most impressive works of analytical philosophy to appear in a good many years."--P. F. Strawson, Times Literary Supplement
"[A] solid collection of important papers."--John Heil, Virginia Commonwealth University

Excerpt

All the essays in this book have been published elsewhere, and each was designed to be more or less free standing. But though composed over a baker's dozen of years, they are unified in theme and general thesis. the theme is the role of causal concepts in the description and explanation of human action. the thesis is that the ordinary notion of cause which enters into scientific or common-sense accounts of non-psychological affairs is essential also to the understanding of what it is to act with a reason, to have a certain intention in acting, to be an agent, to act counter to one's own best judgement, or to act freely. Cause is the cement of the universe; the concept of cause is what holds together our picture of the universe, a picture that would otherwise disintegrate into a diptych of the mental and the physical.

Within the three broad subdivisions I have imposed on the essays, the order of publication provides a reasonably natural organizational scheme. One thing led to another, the solutions of one paper raising the problems of the next. All did not go smoothly, however, as will be apparent to even the most sympathetic reader: later problems often prompted fairly drastic reworking of earlier doctrines. Unity of general thesis comes, in these pages, with considerable diachronic inconsistency.

No attempt has been made to conceal the discrepancies between early and later views. Some inadvertent blunders and stylistic uglinesses have been eliminated, and redundance reduced. Redun- dance in plenty remains, but the points that are worked over most are usually ones that gave me trouble, and so there is, I hope, instruction or interest in what may seem, and probably was intended as, mere repetition. Another reason for leaving my first thoughts . . .

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