John Hyman: "The special question 'Why?'”

The Higher Seminar in Aesthetics and The Higher Seminar in Practical Philosophy

John Hyman, University College London: "The special question 'Why?'”

Anscombe’s 1957 book Intention is probably the most important essay in the philosophy of action in the twentieth century, even if it is not (as Donald Davidson generously claimed) the most important since Aristotle. The principal idea expounded in the book is that we can define intentional action by means of the concept of a reason, instead of defining it in terms of volition or the will. I shall discuss the relationship between acting intentionally and acting for a reason, and Anscombe’s conception of this relationship in Intention.  If there is time, I shall also discuss the main sources of her key idea in Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae and Wittgenstein’s Blue Book.