Paul Redding, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying so much about Meaning and Love Hegel's Metaphysics and Kant's Epistemic Modesty


In this interest of time, I’ll just say something directly: this is an incredible book. Reading it, thinking it through, is extremely rewarding. I haven’t read a work of philosophy that had as much impact on me since being in school myself. The book presents you with new ideas and connections and it forces you to see philosophy and its history in new ways, even if you (like me) had been quite attached to your old ways. The book got into my head. Now I find myself, in idle moments, arguing with Paul up there in my head; as if there is a little copy of him in there now, making the case for his versions of inferentialism and cognitive contextualism. Fortunately, Paul is in my experience unfailingly nice, generous and sympathetic even in argument—otherwise it might not be as nice to have a copy of him in your head. Still, the copy pales in comparison to the original, so it is great to be here. I can’t do justice to the book. But I will try to proceed as follows. I will try to sketch the general line of thought I find so powerful. Then, I will try to take up my assigned role as critic. The most stimulating thing I can think of to do is to argue as follows: Paul’s arguments concerning Kant and Hegel are largely successful, but end up pushing us in directions that are not consistent with the general approach to philosophy, and the general approach to Kant and Hegel, from which Paul himself begins. So we should abandon that general approach. That is what I will try, at least, to argue.



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James Kreines
Claremont McKenna College

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