After Wittgenstein, St. Thomas

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Translation and introduction by Michael Sherwin, O.P. 192 pages, 6" x 9", jacketed clothbound, introduction, footnotes, glossary, bibliography, appendix, index

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After Wittgenstein, St. Thomas

Pouivet, Roger

In this slender volume Roger Pouivet advances an arresting argument. He asserts that the work of the later Wittgenstein can help us discern the lasting value of Thomas Aquinas’s philosophical anthropology. He also holds that Aquinas can help the reader avoid an influential misreading of Wittgenstein. Pouivet draws on the work of Elizabeth Anscombe, Peter Geach, and Anthony Kenny to advance this twofold argument. His point of departure is Kenny’s observation that “Wittgenstein’s importance in the history of philosophy, and in particular of the philosophy of mind, lies especially in his criticism of the Cartesian framework within which philosophy and psychology had been conducted throughout the modern era, well beyond the critique of Kant. One sideeffect of Wittgenstein’s liberation of philosophy from Cartesian prejudices is that it enables those who accept it to give a more sympathetic welcome to the writings of pre-Cartesian philosophers, and in particular medieval scholastics.”

By leading the reader through Wittgenstein’s critique of the dominant modern conception of “interiority,” Pouivet shows how Aquinas’s externalist view of knowledge and moral agency still offers a viable alternative. In the process he also pushes the reader to consider the extent to which his or her own understanding of the human person remains haunted by a lingering Cartesian dualism.

Roger Pouivet is a professor of philosophy at the University of Nancy, France. A researcher of broad interests ranging from Polish research into logic to Nelson Goodman’s aesthetics, Pouivet is the author of Qu’est-ce que croire? (2003), Esthétique et logique (1996), L’ontologie de l’oeuvre d’art (2003), and editor of several collections. A researcher for the Archives Poincaré and the author of numerous articles, Pouivet is married to the philosopher-journalist Dorota Sikora and the father of two sons.

Fr. Michael Sherwin, O.P., teaches philosophy at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. He translated Servais Pinckaers’s Morality: The Catholic View (from St. Augustine’s Press).