Robert Brandom – Why even write (philosophy)?

by Florence Sunnen

“That old philosopher Fred Allen used to say he could not understand why someone would spend years writing a novel, when for a few dollars you could buy one practically anywhere. A similar remark might be made about contributions to that peculiar genre of creative nonfiction writing to which philosophical works such as this one belong. This book is an investigation into the nature of language: of the social practices that distinguish us as rational, indeed logical, concept-mongering creatures – knowers and agents. This is of course a topic that has been much explored by philosophers, both the mighty dead and the ablest contemporary thinkers. Surrounded as we are by the riches they have bequeathed, it is hard to avoid asking why one should bother reading – let alone writing – yet another such work. This question may seem all the more urgent inasmuch as it is acknowledged (indeed, some pains are taken to show) that the basic building blocks out of which this account is constructed – its motivating insights, commitments, and strategies – are not novel or original.”

Robert B. Brandom – Making it Explicit. Reasoning, Representing & Discursive Commitment.