Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will

Paperback | December 10, 2010

byDavid Foster WallaceEditorSteven M. Cahn, Maureen Eckert

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In 1962, the philosopher Richard Taylor used six commonly accepted presuppositions to imply that human beings have no control over the future. David Foster Wallace not only took issue with Taylor's method, which, according to him, scrambled the relations of logic, language, and the physical world, but also noted a semantic trick at the heart of Taylor's argument.

Fate, Time, and Language presents Wallace's brilliant critique of Taylor's work. Written long before the publication of his fiction and essays, Wallace's thesis reveals his great skepticism 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, we witness the developing perspective of this major novelist, along with his struggle to establish solid logical ground for his convictions. This volume, edited by Steven M. Cahn and Maureen Eckert, reproduces Taylor's original article and other works on fatalism cited by Wallace. James Ryerson's introduction connects Wallace's early philosophical work to the themes and explorations of his later fiction, and Jay Garfield supplies a critical biographical epilogue.

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In 1962, the philosopher Richard Taylor used six commonly accepted presuppositions to imply that human beings have no control over the future. David Foster Wallace not only took issue with Taylor's method, which, according to him, scrambled the relations of logic, language, and the physical world, but also noted a semantic trick at th...

David Foster Wallace (1962-2008) wrote the acclaimed novels Infinite Jest and The Broom of the System and the story collections Oblivion, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, and Girl with Curious Hair. His nonfiction includes the essay collections Consider the Lobster and A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again and the full-length w...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:264 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.68 inPublished:December 10, 2010Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231151578

ISBN - 13:9780231151573

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Table of Contents

Preface, by Steven M. Cahn and Maureen EckertIntroduction: A Head That Throbbed Heartlike: The Philosophical Mind of David Foster Wallace, by James RyersonPart I: The Background Introduction, by Steven M. Cahn1. Fatalism, by Richard Taylor2. Professor Taylor on Fatalism, by John Turk Saunders3. Fatalism and Ability, by Richard Taylor4. Fatalism and Ability II, by Peter Makepeace5. Fatalism and Linguistic Reform, by John Turk Saunders6. Fatalism and Professor Taylor, by Bruce Aune7. Taylor's Fatal Fallacy, by Raziel Abelson8. A Note on Fatalism, by Richard Taylor9. Tautology and Fatalism, by Richard Sharvy10. Fatalistic Arguments, by Steven Cahn11. Comment, by Richard Taylor12. Fatalism and Ordinary Language, by John Turk Saunders13. Fallacies in Taylor's "Fatalism," by Charles D. BrownPart II: The Essay 14. Renewing the Fatalist Conversation, by Maureen Eckert15. Richard Taylor's "Fatalism" and the Semantics of Physical Modality, by David Foster WallacePart III: Epilogue 16. David Foster Wallace as Student: A Memoir, by Jay GarfieldAppendix: The Problem of Future Contingencies, by Richard Taylor

Editorial Reviews

A philosophical argument that deserves a place in any college-level library interested in modern philosophical debate. A lively, debative tone keeps this accessible to newcomers.