View All Available Formats & Editions
Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details


“A remarkable book capable of reshaping what one takes philosophy to be.”
—Cora Diamond, Kenan Professor of Philosophy Emerita, University of Virginia

Could there be a logical alien—a being whose ways of talking, inferring, and contradicting exhibit an entirely different logical shape than ours, yet who nonetheless is thinking? Could someone, contrary to the most basic rules of logic, think that two contradictory statements are both true at the same time? Such questions may seem outlandish, but they serve to highlight a fundamental philosophical question: is our logical form of thought merely one among many, or must it be the form of thought as such?

From Descartes and Kant to Frege and Wittgenstein, philosophers have wrestled with variants of this question, and with a range of competing answers. A seminal 1991 paper, James Conant’s “The Search for Logically Alien Thought,” placed that question at the forefront of contemporary philosophical inquiry. The Logical Alien, edited by Sofia Miguens, gathers Conant’s original article with reflections on it by eight distinguished philosophers—Jocelyn Benoist, Matthew Boyle, Martin Gustafsson, Arata Hamawaki, Adrian Moore, Barry Stroud, Peter Sullivan, and Charles Travis. Conant follows with a wide-ranging response that places the philosophical discussion in historical context, critiques his original paper, addresses the exegetical and systematic issues raised by others, and presents an alternative account.

The Logical Alien challenges contemporary conceptions of how logical and philosophical form must each relate to their content. This monumental volume offers the possibility of a new direction in philosophy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674335905
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 02/11/2020
Pages: 1080
Sales rank: 1,226,828
Product dimensions: 9.30(w) x 6.90(h) x 2.60(d)

About the Author

Sofia Miguens is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Porto, where she leads the Mind, Language, and Action group at the Institute of Philosophy. She is the author of seven books and former president of the Portuguese Philosophical Association.

James Conant is Chester D. Tripp Professor of Humanities at the University of Chicago.

Jocelyn Benoist is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and author of Concepts, Les limites de l’intentionalité (The Bounds of Intentionality), and Le bruit du sensible (The Noise of Sensible Things). He is a recipient of the Gay-Lussac Humboldt Prize.

Charles Travis is Professor Emeritus at King’s College London and Professor Afiliado at the Universidade do Porto.

Table of Contents

Part I The Bounds of Judgment

Introduction to Part I: Basic Necessities (or: The Shape of Thought) Charles Travis Sofia Miguens 3

The Search for Logically Alien Thought: Descartes, Kant, Frege, and the Tractatus James Conant 27

What Descartes Ought to Have Thought about Modality A. W. Moore 101

Kant on Logic and the Laws of the Understanding Matthew Boyle 117

Cartesian Skepticism, Kantian Skepticism, and Two Conceptions of Self-Consciousness Arata Hamawaki 145

Logical Aliens and the "Ground" of Logical Necessity Barry Stroud 170

Varieties of Alien Thought Peter Sullivan 183

Wittgenstein on Using Language and Playing Chess: The Breakdown of an Analogy and Its Consequences Martin Gustafsson 202

Where Words Fail Charles Travis 222

Alien Meaning and Alienated Meaning Jocelyn Benoist 281

Part II The Logical Alien Revisited: Afterthoughts and Responses

Introduction to Part II: On How History of Philosophy Can Be Illuminating Sofia Miguens 295

Replies James Conant

Section I Who Is the Author of These Afterthoughts and Responses? 321

Section II A History of Philosophy That Challenges Contemporary Preconceptions 328

Section III Some Aspects of Conant's Version of the History 363

Section IV Theological Sources of Modern Conceptions of Logic 376

Section V Leibnizian versus Kantian Conceptions of Logic 405

Section VI A Resolute Reading of Descartes 469

Section VII Reply to Moore: Descartes on the Relation of the Possible to the Actual 537

Section VIII Reply to Boyle: Kant on the Relation of a Rational Capacity to Its Acts 574

Section IX Reply to Hamawaki: On the Relation of Cartesian to Kantian Skepticism and the Relation of Consciousness to Self-Consciousness 648

Section X Reply to Hamawaki and Stroud on Transcendental Arguments, Idealism, and the Kantian Solution of the Problem of Philosophy 758

Section XI Reply to Stroud on Kant and Frege: On the Relation of Thought to Judgment 783

Section XII Reply to Sullivan: Frege on the Priority of Logic to Everything 830

Section XIII Reply to Gustafsson: Wittgenstein on the Relation of Sign to Symbol 863

Section XIV Reply to Travis: Wittgenstein on the Non-Relation of Thinking to Being 948

Section XV Reply to Benoist: Wittgenstein on the Relation of Language to Life 984

Bibliography 1029

Index Of Names 1051

Index Of Subjects 1057

Customer Reviews