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Life and Action: Elementary Structures of Practice and Practical Thought

Life and Action: Elementary Structures of Practice and Practical Thought

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By (author) Michael Thompson

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  • Publisher: HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • Format: Paperback | 240 pages
  • Dimensions: 155mm x 231mm x 18mm | 295g
  • Publication date: 5 March 2012
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge, Mass
  • ISBN 10: 0674063988
  • ISBN 13: 9780674063983
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Illustrations note: 1 table
  • Sales rank: 471,435

Product description

Any sound practical philosophy must be clear on practical concepts - concepts, in particular, of life, action, and practice. This clarity is Michael Thompson's aim in his ambitious work. In Thompson's view, failure to comprehend the structures of thought and judgment expressed in these concepts has disfigured modern moral philosophy, rendering it incapable of addressing the larger questions that should be its focus. In three investigations, Thompson considers life, action, and practice successively, attempting to exhibit these interrelated concepts as pure categories of thought, and to show how a proper exposition of them must be Aristotelian in character. He contends that the pure character of these categories, and the Aristotelian forms of reflection necessary to grasp them, are systematically obscured by modern theoretical philosophy, which thus blocks the way to the renewal of practical philosophy. His work recovers the possibility, within the tradition of analytic philosophy, of hazarding powerful generalities, and of focusing on the larger issues - like "life" - that have the power to revive philosophy. As an attempt to relocate crucial concepts from moral philosophy and the theory of action into what might be called the metaphysics of life, this original work promises to reconfigure a whole sector of philosophy. It is a work that any student of contemporary philosophy must grapple with.

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Author information

Michael Thompson is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh.

Review quote

An exceptional piece of philosophy that is a reservoir of deep insights concerning life, action, and practices. The theory of action developed here, in particular, stands among the most significant contributions to action theory in recent years. It is quite simply a "must read" for anyone working in the area. Although Thompson's arguments will be of particular interest to philosophers working in action theory and ethics, they have much to offer those with interest in logic, philosophy of biology, metaphysics, philosophy of language, and philosophy of psychology...Thompson's theory of action is dazzling--deep, original, revolutionary, and in certain respects (I suspect) just plain right. -- Paul Hurley Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 20090201

Table of contents

* Introduction Part One: The Representation of Life * Introductory * Can Life be Given a Real Definition? * The Representation of the Living Individual * The Representation of the Life Form Itself Part Two: Naive Action Theory * Introductory * Types of Practical Explanation * Naive Explanation of Action * Action and Time Part Three: Practical Generality * Two Tendencies in Practical Philosophy * Practices and Dispositions as Sources of the Goodness of Individual Actions * Practice and Disposition as Sources of Individual Actions Themselves * Index