The Institutions of Meaning by Vincent Descombes — Now Available in English



In 2009 Bernie posted a note suggesting that scholars interested in Rob Chadot’s development of a ‘postskeptical’ literary criticism might also find a resource in Vincent Descombes. Lifting from Bernie’s original post:

Because cognitivist explanations of the human mind have made surprising inroads into literary studies in recent year, literary scholars may find Descombes’ book on cognitivism — The Mind’s Provisions: A Critique of Cognitivism — relevant to their own work, despite the fact that it has nothing to say about literature as such (elsewhere, however, Descombes has written on literature). For those who want to delve deeper into Descombes’ critique of cognitivism, check out this special 2004 issue of , which features a symposium on The Mind’s Provisions (with essays by Charles Taylor, Robert Brandom, Richard Rorty, and John Haugeland, followed by a response by Descombes).

The Institutions of Meaning (now available in English through Harvard University Press) is a constructive follow-up to the critical project of The Mind’s Provisions. Descombes makes a sustained case for holism and addresses the theoretical difficulties holism presents. More about the text [here]. 

(Readers of French can find a review of Les institutions du sens (1997) by Laurence Kaufman [here] and another by Guillaume Garreta [here].)

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