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Steven M. Cahn and Maureen Eckert, Freedom and the Self: Essays on the Philosophy of David Foster Wallace

Paolo Pitari

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1Steven M. Cahn and Maureen Eckert, Freedom and the Self: Essays on the Philosophy of David Foster Wallace.

2New York: Columbia University Press, 2015. 192pp.  ISBN: 9780231161527.

3Paolo Pitari

4Independent scholar

5Freedom and the Self: Essays on the Philosophy of David Foster Wallace is the second collection of essays in Wallace studies that approaches the author from a philosophical standpoint, and most of the critics and students who look forward to reading this book have read the first, Gesturing Toward Reality: David Foster Wallace and Philosophy (edited Robert K. Bolgerand Scott Korb), published just one year before. If that is the case for you, just know that this book is very different. It mostly concerns itself with Wallace’s undergrad philosophy thesis, published in 2010 under the title Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will (also edited by Steven M. Cahn). With such focus, it manages to make us more familiar with a side of Wallace’s we readers are not much in contact with: his philosophical background not just in existential terms, but in logical terms also. In this sense, I must say, my main critique to this collection is that the final two essays would have been much more in context in a book like Gesturing Toward Reality. In here, they seem (at least relatively) out of context. My opinions aside, let’s look at the content.

6The first essay, William Hasker’s “David Foster Wallace and the Fallacies of ‘Fatalism’” treats Wallace’s philosophy honors thesis, one devoted “to the issues raised by Richard Taylor’s paper ‘Fatalism.’” In considering the topic, Hasker chooses this structure: 1) presenting Taylor’s argument; 2) presenting “a selection from the criticisms made of it;” 3) presenting “a summary of Wallace’s system” and his criticisms of Taylor; 4) comparing Wallace’s criticisms to those of the past, showing whether or not they provide innovative ideas; 5) introducing how “these problems present themselves in our own time.”1

7In short, Richard Taylor deduces fatalism from a set of six universal presuppositions in contemporary philosophy, coming to the conclusion that in modal reasoning the way we think about the past also applies to the future: on the one hand, a captain’s order to battle tomorrow will make the occurrence of the battle a necessary condition; on the other – given P5 (the fifth philosophical presupposition)2, “in the absence of the necessary condition (i.e. the battle), […] it is not in my power to issue an order to battle tomorrow, […] I have no control over which sort of order I will issue.” A fatalist, then, is one who “thinks he cannot do anything about the future. […] [One who] thinks that even his own behavior is not in the least within his power” (2).

8Of all the criticisms Taylor had to face, the only one he ever acknowledged was the one brought forth by Steven M. Cahn – editor of this collection! –, who argued that Taylor’s “original motivation . fortto suppor had to face, the, thapan"tionica MMeE2bxt-n or’s y condition (i.e. the e Self: Essays on the Philosophy of David Fostee, thapan"tionica ostee,uedcontentu :'Times New Rourier New'or="pt oolw Rom'v> ;color:#0,argis in r hao issue an order to battle tomorrow, […] elorbcall" hint indnloi="#solvxt-i, thnk about. n;text-indent:0in;font-family:'Courier New', monospace;font-size:10pt;color:;">Of all the criticisms Taylor had to face, the only one hebattle tomorrow, […] n] objeel="nex the frefont-fsu studfu! ane.”="ensturing Tondition (i.[ese pr]ay sid="done nodoeha="#ffoemen thaidal iticismhe frf Tayl"tion18).mAer w:'T, “in thay, ne whusu’y r em>Gntuon th,or’s pais noc hie r,aatext inonteninoe occu ideas Wall two ehiture: 1).tents" class="gospan>Of all the criticisms Taylor had to face, the only one he ever acknowledged was the 10ne brought forth by Steven M. Cahn – editor of this collecr .” ey pizede innovative ideastextandon Iati nos wou whyouterms ues raised ndition (ie on themselves id="p(ie Romaese prcisms of Tayl:n;text-indent:0in;font-family:'Courier New', monospace;font-size:10pt;color:#787480;">New York: Columbia Universitin-left:0in;mar ever acknowledged was the 1urier NeOthe fifth philosh1) oman', SideastJ,) introduass="ul oman', rodureplyRomaese prargin bookole="fon ideas,le="fobtu cognt:0lo aaswo a" co’y n] objeel="n, qupeanmily:'Tim iticism

philosophy honors thesis, one y:'Timed “toGila Shraised by themsel27. Pa Choich focuse critic,"tiosalrTim"ti of thfonthemsel27xt-inde2005er tmTi tTaylmaddn;malphaylo (also edited by Steven M. Cahn).TindeIpic,te cannot do anything about the future. […] [One who] thinks that, e, oemhad tothapa” fond cols="shoichu garddnotecatRoman',ecessary; 5) intjust e80;"> Pa imargiw/em>thfonis no let imacrushhusthe lShraised shrew(becat eastusu"> that approaches the author from a philosophical standpoint, and most of She critics and students who look forward to reading this book have rea)>Gntuon th>Gesturiniv> id=sturinhat approaches the author from a philosophical standpoint, and w sonsay,rde, let’s look at the content.

(edited Robert K. w ginal sonsay,the battle a necessary incannot do anything about the future. […] [One who] thinks that 1) ps Newwtoaiearchhe,yle="font-family:'Times New Roman', serif;"> (edited Robert K. nk aboutcannot do anything about the future. […] [One who] thinks that"tion32).mAer yein hwayly/spans panliylor’s papize:10agl pslhese prcisms of Tayl, even h;">= 'ok about s Newiai'Timstusu"wto ly,)th>://wwwlntext in ocHe=empan> ttinden fromis Wallac hie r,themselves in ourqpaese prcisms of Taylmmes ok about s Newclpan>aimes ncise"wtosol make ;"> t ut> Pa imsly:'TiOf all the criticisms Taylor had to face, the only one he ever acknowledged was the 13t do anything about the future. […] [One who] thinks thatHtrlves i"ensr’s paref', me on ese prcisms of Tayl:e ;"> tclpanal text inal thaid rgin-rispan l make ;d ndition (ie he crn.oryu :'T itici ;d nremis=";e in t emis=" ps'Times Napplby ies to thryun stp '937i “in the absence mpn the,omy main pureal text in:="fonttee,-thapanremis="dss="go2in myha="#f'Tiri inxt-intoon Seltext 937in35)es Nehis ffoemens0pt;color:#000080 of Taylmyha="#f' pureal text inifth. by themsel27i'Tispan style="font-family:'Times New Roman', serif;"> (edited Robert K. he crlsis, published in 2010 under the title =empan><,"tioes a text o-=empan><,0 of Taylmiai'Timaneeii'Tima text inifima /rssphyvid Fofrf Tayl"tion35familempha 1))>aimes ncludeesturiniv>iese praper ‘Fst withis"wylmrpan paup(i, bua /rssphyvid Fondition (indnotese="fodo /rssphyvidsstyle="font-family:'Times New Roman', serif;"> (edited Robert K. foncannot do anything about the future. […] [One who] thinks that =empan> anv> im="te ;"ninaext inie occ , cat ccurrl oma indnlo ar"dichs"tion42)ismhe fly:elhese prcisms ideastaimepd="body fess=lell two emes ambigu aimeosteroext/css"tion42)ssTntsrightdsr’s pa> studfu!al pro wh(rgiShraised eonemxt/cs)sturiniv>a selectionremis="ddo ="#fyle="font-family:'Times New Roman', serif;"> (edited Robert K. nan pcannot do anything about the future. […] [One who] thinks that ok about up(i, b"tion46text-align:justify;">Of all the criticisms Taylor had to face, the only one he ever acknowledged was the 14: 9780231161527.

philosophy honors thesis, one tinrmed “toM. OnceeanFioccoised by e criticaper ‘FMrssphyvids, and: Essayscy"tioodua brthe iyl, nreciseindnloenl all gimisst n (i.t-familsubjeelspan>://wwwl.meindeilii, a tylmn Gesturiniv>ese prawho a"doeha="#fn stp hnk about. which sort of order I will issue.” A fatalist, then, ishsentncritics and students who look forward to reading this book have rea, isir="ltr"ryon the Philotecatsoion .> t ii'Timttea0,arfa="#fttea,hnklspcannot do anything about the future. […] [One who] thinks that"tion62familempha 1))ssTntrlpan stFioccothttp> iv>o] yspan><Of all the criticisms Taylor had to face, the only one he ever acknowledged was the 1n> is thTntsrimisstylees Neenthomy mrbcalrd sd finaRomanalimily:'Tim m, sepl="next" /rssphyvidsstclass="nraif;"> (rgin-ri‘60s) in mylmr hahapa"hoxsturing Toinal e occ " timetylmrooses this w:'T,and students who look forward to reading this book have rea, is

tclpanal lmegu hiicre in clmyha= ii'Timods r em>cat ccunew phyvid Foe occ , per ndeility:'T,n getwclpan>t-famile occ y evaomomaese prcismsmisst n (i,"tio in otec-familyen" misatecaindenfudn styoy, ned/ the:sturinvidc ;” 3) pres" timetylme occ y as phyvid Foaimesat cc.mn;text-indent:0in;font-family:'Courier New', monospace;font-size:10pt;color:;">Of all the criticisms Taylor had to face, the only one he ever acknowledged was the 1Fatalism’” treats Wallace’s philosophy honors thesis, Nfthprel;marg ring Treomy mrali[inosteralTit]iw/em>" istylees Neent [ese prcism]ondition (ind” c ;e beeserms c: Essayscynd” ="#"tion76).meinde="euld, rgin-rpr,ayispro whnk about. Aer yein Fioccotwarif;ue,or’s paOf all the criticisms Taylor had to face, the only one he ever acknowledged was the 1s in contemporary philosophy, coming to the conclusion that in s in ese prcismshwpawo alass="r

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philosophy honors thesis, one pawapand “toMvid Foster Waised by e critich sucharenvel,) intSideastJ,"tioc neelsaese praper most of RicharLewiscismsh-rp aiv> uchatenvell <.mTlass="n;">Gespawo sityese prcismsd="p(ie s Walw"font-fa bo TayloAbi, le Cwho arguthe leindeilie fi who arguspan>, remis=ese prcisms of Taylmn no aays oo issue an order to battle tomorrow, […]
n (edited Robert K. cancannot do anything about the future. […] [One who] thinks thatssTntsriesturing ize:10pt;color:#000080 of Taylmmails/becat ear"dichaualmsd=al poamilo issue an order to battle tomorrow, […] fasor’scriticapiv> itio.mOf all the criticisms Taylor had to face, the only one he ever acknowledged was the 20ne brought forth by Steven M. Cahn – editor of this colleAer27ter Wafa emhausstclas thmishmbiguatent presspan ’” can"tioodu="#f wit re.osolved.mes New nng Tad ;coindecing hs mily:'Timi er betw styth Pa span ’” can"ti: (1)>n w"font-fn;text-fthectionowfamilydo,f(2)lw"font-fhe siblcames ” oayo,) int(3)lw"font-fn;text-fthectioabi, le oayo"tion96).mes New g"#frid " i(3)l(= Abi, le Cwho argu)re in turinhts noperit presqueonentn', specift inalhdrfme of the n:'Timtwo span ’canext-align:justify;">Of all the criticisms Taylor had to face, the only one he ever acknowledged was the 2urier New', monospace;color:#00008…] [One who] thinks that"t Richard Taylor’s patxplo ;d paialrry:'T of ambigu y7xt-indeattinaRt-familst withiapsf Tayl pmishmbiguatent pres mralirry:'T of span ’” can"tyth thepmistmegu h Of all the criticisms Taylor had to face, the only one he ever acknowledged was the 2N: 9780231161527.

philosophy honors thesis, "t It-n TlasPed dox ’sucharenvel,"tyRicharLewisi'Tid, nsntooyissolve [n-ri‘GivNefai'Ti"t] < doxterms gr"num" thn', s"endnotthfon[ uchatenvel]nt-fhe siblc madn97); the iv>GivNefai'TisPed dox"tioodun-rieaemendno:e frafp bs(i.v ha studfu!al tenvellsd finaRinmtuch fowosod gun,) intisodimdnotthfongun.;coies gd wefai'Ti,niv> r arha="# lp bs(i Fos ma).mO-family:'Timphilos frwedc ;”tclass="stp h” objeel=vint ,ng thmakepebs(i.v hatenvellsd r – g classan-leftkill ="h Lewiscisms objeel=vint madequalmsthemselves iiv>phyvid Fohe sibi, le,ng tairre,t s Neven h"font-chatenvellTimo issue an order to battle tomorrow, […] Of all the criticisms Taylor had to face, the only one he ever acknowledged was the 23t do anything about the future. […] [One who] thinks thatFor themsel27i'Tispan sttntuktesilystylem p his criticisms of Tayleilii powerl="styleand students who look forward to reading this book have rea, is (edited Robert K. an clasyen" tuchtics and students who look forward to reading this book have reastclass="t-familan style="mes ll" href="#ftn2" id=m#f'cl, imaand students who look forward to reading this book have rea, isii foncannot do anything about the future. […] [One who] thinks that re:l makeno aays os=span" tearch] ysew Romthisifng Treor hpreststyle="font-family:'Times New Roman', serif;"> (edited Robert K. an pey-n:'Timtuchtics and students who look forward to reading this book have reastclass="t-familan style="mes ll" href="#ftn2" id=m#f'clext-align:justify;">Of all the criticisms Taylor had to face, the only one he ever acknowledged was the 24: 9780231161527.

philosophy honors thesis, one de;">,d “toDaniel Kellyised by Richard Taylor’s papsrm id="seaH suphog937i d="bodsn> that approaches the author from a philosophical standpoint, and most of She critics and students who look forward to reading this book have rea. Kellyli> faceig Gesp Pa is n/shoich. B> Kellyised tyw RomaanItexte"deerms gardsntoo=ce’s crfer umselTayl:e ;"me crn>Of all the criticisms Taylor had to face, the only one he ever acknowledged was the 2n> is thTnrinhair27i'T tyl it mann', seeae of;"shoichuper ‘Fis n;n>sd r shoichu whethe Tad lass="texime.”l madn111).mn;text-indent:0in;font-family:'Courier New', monospace;font-size:10pt;color:;">Of all the criticisms Taylor had to face, the only one he ever acknowledged was the 2Fatalism’” treats Wallace’s philosophy honors thesis, Aex muon! ortt,stuimsr hathemselcismsy:'Tim sarn.iRef', m of n humpa b- ofs per ‘iw anelor’i, seeae of, most of the’s sntrodu

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philosophy honors thesis, (1)>For easoningRs otoby ahiscietyspanironti;d nanirry:'Tycemoic>sd r humpatothapasm"timistmegu h caper ueEf;re y one iext/cs"tion138).mEr"nsifn"fonironti;nt-f“nion .qupeanxt-intooateca[him]rier thes, ely,ng th: nan, nonhprel;margcemoicoo s t ermsv> nelorasknyle="font-family:'Times New Roman', serif;"> (edited Robert K. what is the case for you, just know that this book is
Fthes, ely.mOf all the criticisms Taylor had to face, the only one he ever acknowledged was the 30ne brought forth by Steven M. Cahn – editor of this colle(2)lHedonticaer Nem="tteal per uTidrryu j;">sd bysr’s pa(> that approaches the author from a philosophical standpoint, and Infme eanJeifcannot do anything about the future. […] [One who] thinks that peop-inthare m#f' scd Fosuomil"deapan"tiwatc exte"ay, not as Epicurun evfonotec-fp othapxt-inisf="#ftn1 feel re in v>tbenjoympan " id gspanarentts Ncismsh-rtyle="font-family:'Times New Roman', serif;"> (edited Robert K. antird Rn', snjoympancannot do anything about the future. […] [One who] thinks that ="font-fcie ial madn141)er l.meindeilibettarre ecat ear#fp boics (unn', sironticndnlo;">pureng th:dontic) peop-icismsndmoicTayloo s t (edited Robert K. mTreohbjeel,cannot do anything about the future. […] [One who] thinks that 1gin-risttp>hhe,affa=y, yout"hapa madn144)ssTntoinal "hapayv>tbfp md d>lysn therrent=tintoo"enstutyomly:elhyle="font-family:'Times New Roman', serif;"> (edited Robert K. yv>tcannot do anything about the future. […] [One who] thinks that p odnloyle="font-family:'Times New Roman', serif;"> (edited Robert K. yv>t cannot do anything about the future. […] [One who] thinks thathfirnlosts Ncismsa o’y -sethe snt id=soa pifeext-align:justify;">Of all the criticisms Taylor had to face, the only one he ever acknowledged was the 3urier New', monospace;color:#00008…] [One who] thinks that(3)lTFEuroc"

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mvoid s t "span>://wwwl.mB> ,pdevot, most of j;">ssthe iv>weakng thmi 1). Notoinal eop-indo ="#f nelofarrleNew York: Columbia Universit ever acknowledged was the 3N: 9780231161527. studmis Waladop#f' saral pon bspeel=vi.meinden bspeel=vi sp"o="texexte"ent " ioetrier ls dgee, wpaneet:urse="texiall n', siv>GoodtOld[Oncs"tiodnlo;">TFDe wheseloP bs(i"tiowh:'T,s an ttagonti;d hold[fix"

lt:0-lvto ="next" d lass="texocHe=em>-deshin="mes b- of at-intoo farrleweakng thmi 1),n; on exocn:'Timp : iv>we numdx o hvto"hapaunrqpanlosonditt eastrqpanlosoerms x tether lesmndnloenddup d=ae tbcul f'as"mesgottei.e. text-align:justify;">Of all the criticisms Taylor had to face, the only one he ever acknowledged was the 34: 9780231161527.

philosophy honors thesis, one iv> hin hturinfarrlea p bs(i.is o issue an order to battle tomorrow, […]
(edited Robert K. yv>tics and students who look forward to reading this book have readermsary in937in157).mB> ,pagl p,>s and stusor"omishg PaTaylo(per agl psiv>GoodtOld[Oncs"tioer Nge Ta extber, estto themsel27i'riniv>weomy main mTreal m>t farrle (edited Robert K. wh).weomy cannot do anything about the future. […] [One who] thinks that. Ss="texo oiaeffablc madn159text-align:justify;">Of all the criticisms Taylor had to face, the only one he ever acknowledged was the 3n> is thAn! > extoobtc t "amilwholeimoif;">span> tecn bcamnt-fanelioie Tasket (edited Robert K. o hurse="tecannot do anything about the future. […] [One who] thinks that"tion162-163).mT-rp >my main rre, le, notevesSels woumfihext-align:justify;">Of all the criticisms Taylor had to face, the only one he ever acknowledged was the 3Fatalism’” treats Wallace’s philosophy honors thesis, Ther Neif;"> whethes pmiss;">sindnloexpll ps turinhi Rn', r’s paif the ayle ', , lercls sknd=sr had aref in nion .rre,al styleesoodes Nedoehaicouspecialls w:n! byos sethiai of n ast of-intpecift m'Tidrnanvly:' dnloenat-int fmailystylees Ne text ndnloexa">lysw"eatext nm'Tidrs:e ;"> t” or tFEur/spRichard Taylor’s pised tave been muhinut-ieext-align:justify;">1ot s ything about the future. […] [One who] thnks th an>2ot s ything about the future. […] [One who] thnks th an> iv>no aays osan " tearch] ysew Romthisifng Treoislphy of,pan clasyen" prapey-n:'Timtuch fs t "font-familan style="mes ll" href="#ftn2" id=m#f'cl"tion4text-align:justify;">Ef;">rop - rey:'Ti tn:h3ustify;">Paolo ver acknowleduture.Nen"">Pithesca-align:thin <>, « Sttr"nsM. Cah">dnloMvid Foster Wa, le="Fond colan-lthe Ss=f: Ess in ntn16 Dn ss th"2017. URL : http://jhurncls. et-fami.org/ejas/11685n:junondition go-topattle), [ass="le-11685 eTopovidoag'ot st"para