Winch's readings of Wittgenstein and Weil call for a significant rethinking of the relation between “metaphysics” and “ethics.” But there are confusions, perhaps to be found in all three of these writers, that we may slip into here. These are linked with the tendency to see idealist tendencies in Wittgenstein, and with his remark that giving grounds comes to an end, not in a kind of seeing on our part, but in our acting. The sense that we think we see (...) in this suggestion is dependent on a distorted conception of “justification.” Getting clear about this involves coming to appreciate just how much of our nature as ethical beings is engaged when we do philosophy. (shrink)
This book differs from others by rejecting the dualist approach associated in particular with Descartes. It also casts serious doubt on the forms of materialism that now dominate English language philosophy. Drawing in particular on the work of Wittgenstein, a central place is given to the importance of the notion of a human being in our thought about ourselves and others.
We view things from a certain position in time: in our language, thought, feelings and actions, we draw distinctions between what has happened, is happening, and will happen. Current approaches to this feature of our lives - those seen in disputes between tensed and tenseless theories, between realist and anti-realist treatments of past and future, and in accounts of historical knowledge - embody serious misunderstandings of the character of the issues; they misconstrue the relation between metaphysics and ethics, and the (...) way to characterise the kind of sense which tensed language has. David Cockburn argues that the notion of 'reasons for emotion' must have a central place in any account of meaning, and that the present should have no priority in our understanding of tense. This allows for a more satisfactory articulation of the place of past, present and future in our thought, and of the form which criticism of our thought might take. (shrink)