Reading “Reading Brandom”

I’ve commented on the introduction to Reading Brandom: On A Spirit of Trust, and on the contributions by Robert Pippin and Terry Pinkard. Here I will briefly attend to the remainder of the book.

A moderately phrased essay by Elena Ficara wants to recover a more conventional notion of propositional truth in Hegel, while adhering to the view that real “contradictions” literally violate the law of noncontradiction. John McDowell, a notorious opponent of coherentism, predictably takes issue with Brandom’s coherentist reading of the Kantian unity of apperception. He also claims Hegel is not engaged in the critique of representationalism that Brandom imputes to him, and argues for a forward-moving necessity in the emergence of one shape of consciousness from another. A thoughtful and well-balanced piece by Paul Redding unfortunately wants to recover a place for a more conventional positive role for immediate experience. Georg Bertram argues for the importance of conflict, and says that Brandom overstresses reconciliation. In a nuanced piece on Brandom’s take on realism and idealism in Hegel, Dean Moyar argues that thinking of practical judgment in terms of values rather than deontology could strengthen Brandom’s argument. I have some sympathy for this.

J.M. Bernstein adheres to an ethically “positivist” reading of Making It Explicit, and claims that the notion of forgiveness in Spirit of Trust invalidates Brandom’s previous stance. Italo Tesla objects to some of the detail of Brandom’s treatment of alienation, and rejects Brandom’s subsumption of all human activity under ethical practice. Editor Gilles Bouché claims Brandom “retreats” to a “pure philosophy of language” ill-suited for ethical purposes. Franz Knappik claims Brandomian trust is incompatible with critical thought, and thus has bad political consequences. Charles Taylor globally rejects Brandom’s reading of Hegel in favor of a more conventional view of a self-unfolding teleology, but says Brandom’s ethics contain a message much needed in contemporary politics.