•  306
    Wittgenstein gives voice to an aspiration that is central to his later philosophy, well before he becomes later Wittgenstein, when he writes in §4.112 of the Tractatus that philosophy is not a matter of putting forward a doctrine or a theory, but consists rather in the practice of an activity – an activity he goes on to characterize as one of elucidation or clarification – an activity which he says does not result in philosophische Sätze, in propositions of philosophy, but rather in das Klarwerd…Read more
  •  206
    The Dialectic of Perspectivism, II
    SATS 7 (1): 6-57. 2006.
    As we have seen, the crucial step in Nietzsche’s argument for his early doctrine is summed by in the following remark: ‘If we are forced to comprehend all things only under these forms, then it ceases to be amazing that in all things we actually comprehend nothing but these forms’ (1979, pp. 87–8). Before eventually learning to be suspicious of it, Nietzsche spends a good deal of time wondering instead what it would mean to live with the conclusion that (what he calls) “the Kantian philosophy” a…Read more
  •  205
    Wittgenstein on meaning and use
    Philosophical Investigations 21 (3). 1998.
    Wittgenstein is usually taken to have held that the use of a term is not mentally constrained. That is utterly wrong. A use of language unconstrained by meaning is attributed by him to "meaning-blind" or "aspect-blind" creatures, not to us. We observe meaning when an aspect dawns on us; meaning is the impression (Eindruck) of a term as fitting something; hence, unlike pain, it cannot stand alone. That is a mentalistic theory of meaning: use is determined by images (Vorstellungen) that play seman…Read more
  •  188
    Wittgenstein's methods
    In Oskari Kuusela & Marie McGinn (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Wittgenstein, Oxford University Press. 2011.
    This paper comes in three parts. In the first part, I explore the question of the relation between the philosophies of the early and the later Wittgenstein as they are standardly distinguished, with the aim of raising some questions about whether that standard distinction might not obstruct our view of certain significant aspects of the development of Wittgenstein’s thought. In the second part, drawing on the work of Marie McGinn and Warren Goldfarb, I distinguish two senses in which these two c…Read more
  •  183
    Stanley Cavell’s Wittgenstein
    The Harvard Review of Philosophy 13 (1): 50-64. 2005.
    Now Wittgenstein has become quite famous in recent years for putting forward something that gets called a “use-theory of meaning.” Wittgenstein writes
  •  178
    If someone believes himself to have discovered the solution to the problem of life … then in order to refute himself he need only reflect that there was a time when this ‘solution’ had not been discovered; but it must have been possible to live then too…. And that is the position in which we find ourselves in logic. If there comes to seem to be a ‘solution’ to logical (philosophical) problems, we should need only to caution ourselves that there was a time when they had not been solved (and even …Read more
  •  158
    The document before you is by a member of a fanatical sect of heretical Ludwig scholars. Through a twist of fate it has fallen into my hands. I hesitate to make it public, since its circulation may do more harm than good. What speaks against publication is that it has the power to corrupt young minds. I do not take a light view of the dangers it poses in this regard. What speaks in favor of publication is the fact that these people must be stopped. Through their pamphlets and brochures they cont…Read more
  •  138
    The Dialectic of Perspectivism I
    SATS 7 (1): 5-50. 2006.
    Philosophers ... always demand that we should think of an eye that is completely unthinkable, an eye turned in no particular direction, in which the active and interpreting forces, through which alone seeing becomes seeing something, are supposed to be lacking; they always demand of the eye an absurdity and a nonsense.
  •  119
    Why worry about Wittgenstein’s Tractatus? Did not Wittgenstein himself come to think it was largely a mistaken work? Is not Wittgenstein’s important work his later work? And does not his later work consist in a rejection of his earlier views? So does not the interest of the Tractatus mostly lie in its capacity to furnish a particularly vivid exemplar of the sort of philosophy that the mature Wittgenstein was most concerned to reject? So is it not true that the only real reason to worry about the…Read more
  •  100
    Elucidation and nonsense in Frege and early Wittgenstein
    In Alice Crary & Rupert J. Read (eds.), The New Wittgenstein, Routledge. pp. 174--217. 2000.
  •  99
    What is pragmatism?
    with Richard Rorty, Hilary Putnam, and Gretchen Helfrich
    Think 3 (8): 71-88. 2004.
    The following is a transcript of a discussion about the question between Richard Rorty, Hilary Putnam, and James Conant. The discussion was part of a series of discussions on more or less philosophical subjects broadcast on Chicago Public Radio. This discussion is anchored by Gretchen Helfrich. Two listeners (Chris and Edwin) also took part
  •  93
    Hilary Putnam: Pragmatism and Realism (edited book)
    with Ursula M. Zeglen
    Routledge. 2001.
    One of the most influential contemporary philosophers, Hilary Putnam's involvement in philosophy spans philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, ontology and epistemology and logic. This specially commissioned collection discusses his contribution to the realist and pragmatist debate. Hilary Putnam comments on the issues raised in each article, making it invaluable for any scholar of his work.
  •  73
    Why Kant Is Not a Kantian
    Philosophical Topics 44 (1): 75-125. 2016.
    A central debate in early modern philosophy, between empiricism and rationalism, turned on the question which of two cognitive faculties—sensibility or understanding—should be accorded logical priority in an account of the epistemic credentials of knowledge. As against both the empiricist and the rationalist, Kant wants to argue that the terms of their debate rest on a shared common assumption: namely that the capacities here in question—qua cognitive capacities—are self-standingly intelligible.…Read more
  •  67
    Interview. From Positivist Rabbi to Resolute Reader: James Conant in Conversation with Niklas Forsberg, Part 1
    with Niklas Forsberg
    Nordic Wittgenstein Review 2 (1): 131-160. 2013.
    Name der Zeitschrift: Nordic Wittgenstein Review Jahrgang: 2 Heft: 1 Seiten: 131-160
  •  57
    If, as the title of this book suggests, the state of Tractatus commentary has at times recently resembled something close to a state of war, then it has most of all resembled a war of attrition. Against this background, Roger White's "Throwing the Baby Out with the Ladder" makes for refreshing reading. To be sure, White repeats some of the familiar misconceptions of what resolute readers do or must claim that have marred the debate over the adequacies or inadequacies of such an approach to the T…Read more
  •  50
    This paper argues that Wittgenstein, both early and late, rejects the idea that the logically simpler and more fundamental case is that of "the mere sign" and that what a meaningful symbol is can be explained through the elaboration of an appropriately supplemented conception of the sign: the sign plus something. Rather the sign, in the logically fundamental case of its mode of occurrence, is an internal aspect of the symbol. The Tractatus puts this point as follows: “The sign is that in the sym…Read more
  •  46
    Wittgenstein on Philosophy, Objectivity, and Meaning (edited book)
    Cambridge University Press. 2019.
    This volume of new essays presents groundbreaking interpretations of some of the most central themes of Wittgenstein's philosophy. A distinguished group of contributors demonstrates how Wittgenstein's thought can fruitfully be applied to contemporary debates in epistemology, metaphilosophy and philosophy of language. The volume combines historical and systematic approaches to Wittgensteinian methods and perspectives, with essays providing detailed analysis that will be accessible to students as …Read more
  •  41
    with Sebastian Rödl
    Philosophical Topics 42 (1): 1-12. 2014.
  •  29
    James Conant in Conversation with Niklas Forsberg, Part 2
    with Niklas Forsberg
    Nordic Wittgenstein Review 5 (1). 2016.
    This is part 2 och an interview with Prof. J. Conant, conducted by Niklas Forsberg. This article will be published at the end of June 2016.
  •  27
    Inheriting Wittgenstein: James Conant in Conversation with Niklas Forsberg, Part 2
    with Niklas Forsberg
    Nordic Wittgenstein Review 7 (2): 111-193. 2018.
    This is part 2 of an interview with Prof. J. Conant, conducted by Niklas Forsberg.
  •  22
    Some Socratic Aspects of Wittgenstein's Conception of Philosophy
    In James Conant & Sebastian Sunday Grève (eds.), Wittgenstein on Philosophy, Objectivity, and Meaning, Cambridge University Press. pp. 231-264. 2019.
    This chapter begins with an examination, testing the reader’s knowledge of Socrates and Wittgenstein. It goes on to consider the question of why the exam might be a difficult one, and the question of what this difficulty shows about Wittgenstein. The chapter further discusses, on a more general level, the questions of why the claim that a philosopher’s conception of philosophy bears a Socratic aspect was once a tautology and why the claim that Wittgenstein’s conception of philosophy bears a Socr…Read more
  •  22
    On Wittgenstein
    with Wolfgang Kienzler, Stefan Majetschak, Volker Munz, Josef G. F. Rothhaupt, David Stern, and Wilhelm Vossenkuhl
    In Sascha Bru, Wolfgang Huemer & Daniel Steuer (eds.), wittgenstein Reading, De Gruyter. pp. 96-107. 2001.