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Ways of Worldmaking by Nelson Goodman

Ways of Worldmaking (1978)

by Nelson Goodman

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    The City & The City by China Miéville (sek_smith)
    sek_smith: This is not a fiction book, but an essay on relativity applied to epistemology. For many interested in the psychological mechanisms at work in The city & the City, this is a good read.

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Israel Scheffler: Synthese, Vol. 45, No. 2
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20115556
  TriMosaic | Oct 8, 2014 |
A good, interesting little book. I had read Goodman's name mentioned many times in my undergrad, but only got around to reading him three years later.

This book, along with Susan Sontag's Against Interpretation which I also read recently, have probably been two of the most useful books I've read, from the perspective of improving my ability to appreciate, recognize and think about "style" in works of art and life in general.

Ways of Worldmaking itself has a very peculiar style: while Goodman appears at first to be another dry analytic philosopher, his writing is punctuated by very occasional, sometimes subtle and sometimes not, jokes, puns, self-deprecations, and self-revelations--so occasional that one does not come to expect it, but only appreciates it when it happens. Reading the second chapter of this book, "The Status of Style," I couldn't help but be reminded of one of the (in my opinion) more compelling reading experiences that Heidegger or Derrida occasionally generate, which is the experience of deferral or delay. Though the conclusion is not "Derridean" or "Heideggerean" (and who would want it to be?), the repetitive motion towards and then away from inadequate definitions of "style" is reminiscent of what the reader feels as Heidegger progressively breaks down and simultaneously reveals a definition of a term that condenses a whole host of prior philosophizing into a compact statement.

The only reason I didn't give this book five stars was that I wish it was longer. The last chapter, in particular, could seriously use some expansion of the idea "rightness of fit" (under which Goodman provocatively subsumes "truth"), and also of how Goodman conceptualizes the process by which "wrong versions" (wrong statements--or wrong pictures or designs, especially) fail to worldmake. ( )
1 vote lukeasrodgers | May 3, 2009 |
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