New Book + Review — Groundless Grounds by Lee Braver

9780262016896Not so very long ago MIT Press published a book that should be of interest to our readership: Lee Braver’s Groundless Grounds: A Study of Wittgenstein and HeideggerBelow you’ll find the publisher’s overview as well as the opening paragraph of Gary E. Aylesworth’s NDPR review.

Overview [from MIT Press]

Ludwig Wittgenstein and Martin Heidegger are two of the most important–and two of the most difficult–philosophers of the twentieth century, indelibly influencing the course of continental and analytic philosophy, respectively. In Groundless Grounds, Lee Braver argues that the views of both thinkers emerge from a fundamental attempt to create a philosophy that has dispensed with everything transcendent so that we may be satisfied with the human. Examining the central topics of their thought in detail, Braver finds that Wittgenstein and Heidegger construct a philosophy based on originalfinitude–finitude without the contrast of the infinite.

In Braver’s elegant analysis, these two difficult bodies of work offer mutual illumination rather than compounded obscurity. Moreover, bringing the most influential thinkers in continental and analytic philosophy into dialogue with each other may enable broader conversations between these two divergent branches of philosophy.

Braver’s meticulously researched and strongly argued account shows that both Wittgenstein and Heidegger strive to construct a new conception of reason, free of the illusions of the past and appropriate to the kind of beings that we are. Readers interested in either philosopher, or concerned more generally with the history of twentieth-century philosophy as well as questions of the nature of reason, will findGroundless Grounds of interest.

Review [from NDPR]

Lee Braver, Groundless Grounds: A Study of Wittgenstein and Heidegger, MIT Press, 2012, 354pp., $38.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780262016896.

Reviewed by Gary E. Aylesworth, Eastern Illinois University

Ludwig Wittgenstein and Martin Heidegger are the two most influential philosophers of the twentieth century. Though they were aware of one another, each made only one recorded mention of the other, and these were made in passing. These remarks open a narrow pathway into a large field of investigation. However, perhaps because they came to represent opposing camps of professional philosophers, few have attempted to read them so as to bring them into productive dialogue. Lee Braver’s publication is the latest of these relatively rare efforts. His general thesis is that, despite their differences, Wittgenstein and Heidegger both insist upon our radical finitude as human beings, and that there is an unsurpassable limit to the reasons we give as to why things are the way they are. In other words, reason as a ground-giving activity cannot ground itself, but arises out of our situation in a world that is always already “there” before the question of grounds or reasons can arise in the first place. In developing this thesis, Braver hopes to begin a dialogue between so-called analytic and continental philosophers and to inaugurate a re-appropriation of the philosophical tradition on the basis of mutual understanding. That is to say, he believes his study can lead “analysts” and “continentalists” to agree on what philosophy is, on what it has been, and on what it ought to become. Given the institutional divisions within professional philosophy, in place for two or more generations, this is no small ambition, and it is unlikely to meet with a friendly reception from all quarters (see Richard Rorty) . . .

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