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Nelson Goodman

Nelson Goodman

Daniel Cohnitz
Marcus Rossberg
Series: Philosophy Now
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 296
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    Nelson Goodman
    Book Description:

    Although some of Nelson Goodman's views have become unfashionable or seem unorthodox, much in his work is of lasting significance. Daniel Cohnitz and Marcus Rossberg assess Goodman's contribution to philosophy, including his acceptance and critique of positivism, his defence of nominalism and phenomenalism, his formulation of a new riddle of induction, his work on notational systems, and his analysis of the arts. They offer an analysis of the unifying features of Goodman's philosophy - his constructivism, conventionalism, and relativism - and discuss his central work, The Structure of Appearance, and its significance in the analytic tradition. They also examine Goodman's views on mereology and semiotics, which underly his philosophy and provide the background to his aesthetics.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8595-9
    Subjects: History
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements (pp. vii-vii)
  4. Abbreviations (pp. viii-viii)
  5. Chapter 1 The worldmaker’s universe (pp. 1-27)

    Nelson Goodman was a philosopher of enormous breadth. He made important and highly original contributions to epistemology, logic and the philosophy of science, but is also a famous figure in the analytic philosophy of art and in metaphysics.

    Unlike many other philosophers of the twentieth century, Goodman was not a puzzle-solver who wrote in an almost inaccessible technical style on unrelated highly specialized problems; on the contrary, he worked on the most fundamental problems, contributing original and provocative insights, and his writing was always brilliant in both precision and style. As his students and/or co-authors Catherine Elgin, Israel Scheffler and...

  6. Chapter 2 If this were an emerald it would be grue: problems and riddles of induction (pp. 28-53)

    That the sun will rise every morning, that bread nourishes, that ravens are black and that matches will light when struck under favourable conditions are all truths about the world that we believe. Clearly, they are very helpful for us. Those just mentioned all have in common that they expressregularitiesthat hold in the world. They tell us that a certain state of affairs isalwaysfollowed by a certain other state of affairs, or that certain thingsalwayshave certain features.

    Regularities, expressed by general statements such as ‘all Fs are Gs’, are very valuable things to know...

  7. Chapter 3 The big picture (pp. 54-74)

    In this chapter we sketch how Goodman conceives of the purpose, aim and method of philosophy. We also indicate the way in which his thoughts on seemingly unrelated matters, such as art and induction, are connected to form a coherent whole. Few philosophers of the twentieth century have been as influential as Goodman, particularly across such diverse fields as the philosophy of art and the philosophy of science. What we hope to show is that this is due not only to an idiosyncratic coincidence of interests, but also to Goodman’s account of philosophy.

    What gives unity to Goodman’s thought is...

  8. Chapter 4 Particulars and parts (pp. 75-98)

    In Chapter 3 we saw that one consequence of taking philosophy to be directed at understanding and elucidation is that a philosophical explication cannot be given in terms of unintelligible entities. That was the reason why Goodman did not accept an analysis of meaning in terms of intensions. Intensions are not the only philosophical constructions he repudiates, however. Goodman is, among other things, most famous for another radical doctrine: his nominalism.

    In the twentieth century the debate between realism and nominalism was an almost foolproof source of heated discussion and verbose polemic (and sometimes rather entertaining rhetoric), and it still...

  9. Chapter 5 From Vienna Station to Boston Terminus (pp. 99-139)

    Now that we have introduced some of the formal machinery that Goodman developed to approach philosophical problems, we are almost ready to understand his chief work.A Study of Qualities,which was first published in revised form asThe Structure of Appearance,is certainly the most difficult piece Goodman ever wrote. It is full of technical subtleties and philosophically relevant observations. To understand its significance, however, we first have to look back at the philosophical context in which it was developed. We have emphasized in the previous chapters that Goodman’s work is best understood as situated within a certain branch...

  10. Chapter 6 Follow the sign (pp. 140-163)

    Signs and symbols play an important role in our lives. We use them to extract and convey information, to deceive and to reveal. Some symbols are considered natural. Smoke, for example, is said to signal fire. Some symbols are clearly conventional, such as the string of words you are now paying attention to. Some are obviously part of a whole system, such as, for instance, a system of traffic signs. Others seem to stand alone, like calling a friend and letting the phone ring only once to let her know you are on your way without wasting the money for...

  11. Chapter 7 Diagnosing art (pp. 164-190)

    In this chapter we outline Goodman’s philosophy of art, which can largely be found in hisLanguages of Art,with some additions made inWays of WorldmakingandOf Mind and Other Matters.Goodman presents a symbol-theoretic approach to art. Artworks are (complex) symbols, and as such function cognitively. Elgin called this “Goodman’s Epistemic Turn” (1997a: ch.3). Art, like science and philosophy, contributes to our understanding. Artworks present a world version (see Chapter 8), but in order to do so, they, in turn, must be understood:

    To understand a portrait, a partita, or a pas de deux, Goodman believes, is...

  12. Chapter 8 Starmaking (pp. 191-203)

    In this chapter we shall present Goodman’s “irrealism”, according to which he rejects the notion of one single, neutral reality that underlies our true versions of what the world is like. Such a reality is neither sufficient nor necessary to explain matters of epistemology or to distinguish true from false versions. We explain how this view is a consequence of Goodman’s pluralism, constructionalism and anti-foundationalism, which we have encountered in the preceding chapters. It is also worth emphasizing that this obviously relativistic position does not collapse into an “anything goes”. “Irrealism” is not to be confused with “irrationalism”

    Throughout the...

  13. Chapter 9 Never mind mind, essence is not essential, and matter does not matter (pp. 204-228)

    In the preceding chapters our aim has been to introduce some of the main aspects of Nelson Goodman’s philosophy. We have occasionally mentioned criticisms of Goodman’s positions, when we thought that this was useful for a better understanding of his views. What we have tried to do is limit these critical remarks, however, so that they do not distract from the book’s main line of argument, namely that Goodman’s views on topics as diverse as induction and aesthetic expression are interrelated in interesting ways.

    Now that we are approaching the end of the book, a little more should be said...

  14. List of symbols (pp. 229-229)
  15. Glossary of technical terms (pp. 230-236)
  16. Further reading (pp. 237-239)
  17. Notes (pp. 240-260)
  18. Bibliography (pp. 261-276)
  19. Index (pp. 277-288)