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  • Giving a Damn: Essays in Dialogue with John Haugeland ed. by Zed Adams and Jacob Browning
  • Apaar Kumar
Zed Adams and Jacob Browning, editors. Giving a Damn: Essays in Dialogue with John Haugeland. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2017. Pp. x + 373. Cloth, $50.00.

The analytically rigorous essays in this volume celebrate the innovative thought of John Haugeland by locating, critiquing, and extending it. Divided thematically into four parts, [End Page 182] the volume begins with essays concerning Haugeland's Heidegger interpretation, followed by sections relating to his views on embodiment and intentionality. The final part contains Haugeland's unfinished and hitherto unpublished "Two Dogmas of Rationalism," responses to this essay, and an interpretation of Kant's transcendental deduction of the categories that Haugeland drafted based on a reading group including himself, James Conant, and John McDowell.

Adams and Browning's helpful introduction attempts to unify the diverse strands of Haugeland's thought by bringing together the following claims. First, the understanding of natural language, contra Good Old Fashioned Artificial Intelligence (GOFAI), requires caring about oneself and the world ("giving a damn"). Second, human mindedness is embodied, tightly integrated with its environment, and socially instituted. Third, while truth emerges within social practices of engaging objects in norm-governed ways—including an individually and freely undertaken "existential commitment" to persevering with these practices "on pain of having to give [them] up" (38)—it remains answerable to the world, because phenomena can violate normative expectations.

The essays relating to Haugeland's reading of Heidegger deal with the notion of existential commitment. William Blattner shows how resolute ownership of normative social roles is inescapably, though not merely, first-personal: it involves occupying social roles in a way that exceeds their strict requirements, and puts one's own self-conception at risk. Steven Crowell interprets existential commitment as the "resilient and resolute" (80) first-person endeavor to be human-as-such in a way that could succeed or fail, and views Haugeland's claim that "our responsibility for normativity . . . is the meaning of our rationality" (81) as inverting Sellars. Rebecca Kukla rejects the existential commitment attached to Haugeland's theory of truth as individualistic. Emphasizing the second-personal character of ostension and assertion, Kukla interprets ostension as a "complex, multifaceted set of social practices" (127), and takes it to ground truth construed as evaluating the success of past attendings. Joseph Rouse interprets Haugeland's discussions of being-toward-death and love as reciprocal, and finds both compelling. However, he criticizes Haugeland's claim that objectivity requires not imposing our will upon worldly entities, because such a claim underestimates our imbrication in the world.

Mark Lance and Danielle Macbeth each examine Haugeland's claim that meaningfulness requires worldly embeddedness. Lance criticizes Haugeland's claim that we allow the world to constrain our practices, and develops an alternative, broadly Haugeland-Heideggarian, account of intentionality and truth as requiring a "system of mutually interdependent subpractices, held together by incompatibility norms" (179). Macbeth explains that Haugeland's characterization of the subject-world relationship as a processually obtained "intelligible unity" (205) combines Aristotelian notions of power and form of life; the early-modern animate-inanimate distinction; and the claim that all understanding, including mathematics, comes from living in the world.

The essays concerning Haugeland on intentionality deal with truth and representation. Bennett Helm reconceptualizes existential commitment as a form of caring, and argues that truth requires a community of persons who care about following and enforcing the norms relating to getting things right. Zed Adams and Chauncey Maher deny Burge's claim that constancy mechanisms—which determine perception by bracketing unlikely distal stimuli—are veridical, in part by arguing that they are merely derivatively intentional in Haugeland's sense. John Kulvicki argues that the non-intentional mode of recording can help further differentiate Haugeland's distinction between the linguistic and the iconic (picture or image or graph or diagram) representational genera by showing that only the latter can be "modeled by recording processes" (270).

The final part opens with Haugeland's critique of positivism and cognitivism as dogmas of rationalism. Haugeland criticizes positivism—that facts or true propositions exhaust reality—for denying that empirical know-how is...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 182-184
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-17
Open Access
No
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