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Home News by Category Philosophy WSJ Fate Time and Language Piece

WSJ Fate Time and Language Piece

There's a piece by Moira G. Weigel over at the Wall Street Journal Speakeasy blog about David Foster Wallace's Philosophy thesis that is worth checking out - welcome to anyone who's made it to this site after reading it.

David Foster Wallace: His Secret Life As a Philosopher, refutes a few points of speculation that keep cropping up about the publication. Namely, it was submitted for peer review, it is seen as an important philosophical work, and David Foster Wallace had tried to publish it:

Edited by Steven Cahn and Maureen Eckert, both professional philosophers, “Fate, Time, and Language” surrounds Wallace’s thesis with the academic articles to which he was responding. The book also includes an introduction by New York Times Magazine editor, James Ryerson and an epilogue by Jay Garfield, one of Wallace’s advisors, who now teaches at Smith College.
The novelist Mark Costello, who was Wallace’s college roommate and close friend, confirms that Wallace, who had briefly enrolled as a philosophy graduate student, tried to publish his thesis with Harvard University Press in the 1990s. “Dave felt the manuscript solved a problem which was still being talked about in academic circles as ‘unsolved.’ He said to me that he sent it to Harvard with the idea that ‘in case anyone actually wants to know the answer, here it is.’”
Eckert, who teaches at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and had long admired Wallace’s work, met Costello at a memorial service for Wallace held at Amherst in the fall of 2008. Costello told her how important the thesis had been to his friend. Eckert contacted Cahn, a legendary professor at the CUNY Graduate Center, who supervised her dissertation and whose research Taylor himself had supervised at Columbia in the 1960s. “I called and asked: Steve, did you know that this famous writer wrote a whole thesis on you and Taylor? And Steve was like, really? He had never heard about David Foster Wallace! I managed to get a PDF to him.”
Cahn contacted Wendy Lochner, who acquires titles in philosophy for Columbia University Press. Lochner submitted Wallace’s thesis to the usual strenuous process of academic peer review. “I was asking people not so much would this be interesting because it was Wallace’s but is it interesting in its own right as a work of philosophy. The reviews confirm that it was.”
“There is no doubt about it,” Cahn echoes. “This is a serious piece of philosophy. It stands on its own.”


Last Updated on Thursday, 16 December 2010 06:41  

The Howling Fantods