Transformative Philosophy: Socrates, Wittgenstein, and the Democratic Spirit of Philosophy

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9780739113615: Transformative Philosophy: Socrates, Wittgenstein, and the Democratic Spirit of Philosophy

The recent cross-fruition between analytical philosophy and continental philosophical traditions has stimulated an intense interest in the philosophy of philosophy. At stake in the debate is our understanding of the role of philosophy and of the use of argument and reason in culture.Transformative Philosophy articulates a new conception of philosophy through a discussion of salient themes in the analytical tradition, in the work of the later Wittgenstein, and in critical theory. Wallgren traces the genealogy leading to the present impasse on the discourse of philosophy; discusses authors such as Quine, Peter Winch, Michael Dummett, and Ernst Tugendhat; and considers Wittgenstein's conception of philosophy and of the private language argument. Drawing on an analysis of the relations between truth, communal agreement, and the role of the personal will in philosophical argumentation, Transformative Philosophy develops an image of philosophy as a transformative care for self and others. This work makes a great contribution to the study of philosophy and social theory.

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About the Author:

Thomas Wallgren is a Senior Fellow at the Academy of Finland.

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Thomas Wallgren's book Transformative Philosophy is a remarkable, important achievement in modern philosophy.... The importance of the book is that it manages to portray significant positions and debates in modern philosophy both in their own modern terms and as examples of how to deal with some deep and basic problems that have always characterized serious philosophy since Socrates. There is hardly any other book available that analyses "what philosophy is about today" with such profundity as this book. It reveals a fine and valuable insight into important parts of both modern analytic and modern continental philosophy.... It is a book that one can recommend to not only to students of philosophy but to learned scholars, since few living philosophers have managed, with excellence, to present the aspirations of modern philosophy as still answering to the historical roots and original ambitions of the enterprise. (Steen Brock, Aarhus Universitet)

With great mastery, Wallgren navigates through much of the best in recent Wittgenstein scholarship, introducing us to many lines of interpretation found therein: transcendental, relativistic, naturalistic, corrective therapeutic.... Yet, in the end they are all left behind in favor of a different and new line: "polyphonic grammatical" interpretation, and, more generally, "transformative philosophy"... By presenting Wittgenstein to us as a follower of Socrates, the author succeeds in demonstrating one way in which Wittgenstein may offer us an alternative to choosing between theory and corrective therapy on the one hand and anarchy and irrationalism on the other. And, needless to say, along the way Wittgenstein himself is also scrupulously scanned for faults. (Alois Pichler, University of Bergen)

Transformative Philosophy is a courageous, profoundly searching examination of the character and value of philosophical theory and practice.... Philosophers as diverse as the pre-Socratics, Socrates, Heidegger, Quine, Dummett, Davidson, Habermas, Apel, Foucault, Deleuze, Guattari, Rorty, and Wittgenstein himself, along with his recent expositors and critics, are scrutinized to determine the extent to which their basic contentions make sense and make a genuine difference to―or instead raise basic difficulties for―our philosophical procedures. Wallgren develops a compelling alternative to first-philosophical pretensions, deflationist quietism, and relativism in the form a "polyphonic" grammatical interpretation of Wittgenstein's later philosophy. He shows how we can be seriously committed philosophically both to rational justification and to the moral relevance of philosophy to our own times.... Wallgren's book is replete with subtle and important insights, above all about Socrates and Wittgenstein; it is a "must read" for philosophers of all persuasions. (Kenneth R. Westphal, University of East Anglia)

I found [Transformative Philosophy] a charming [book], philosophically quite astute and wide-ranging, and decidedly bold and inventive in the direction it proposes. (Joseph Margolis, Temple University)

Wallgren's detailed account of the transformative potential of philosophy ― of the way in which, by working to resolve conceptual confusions or to rid oneself of delusions, one can end up transforming one's entire life and even the world itself ― has been long-awaited and is most welcome. Wallgren's development of the therapeutic interpretation of philosophy...builds on all that is best in the great voices of philosophy from Socrates to the present day, and focuses most intently around Wittgenstein's thought.... Those who think that admiring Wittgenstein entails conservative political views will be shaken by this book, for Wallgren's philosophy is a deeply-contemporarily-relevant philosophy of emancipation: from the tutelage of scientism and individualism, and from our governance by mentalities such as that of knowledge-fetishism or free-market-ideology. (Dr. Rupert Read, University of East Anglia, Norwich)

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