David Finkelstein

David Finkelstein
Associate Professor
Stuart Hall, Room 203
Office Hours: Spring Quarter,
773.702.1509
University of Pittsburgh PhD (1994); Harvard University, BA (1984)
Research Interests: Epistemology, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Mind

David Finkelstein is Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and the College. He received his AB in philosophy and psychology from Harvard and his PhD from the University of Pittsburgh. Finkelstein works and teaches principally in epistemology, metaphysics, and the philosophy of mind. His book, Expression and the Inner, offers an account of the authority with which we speak about our own thoughts and feelings and of the distinction between conscious and unconscious mental states.

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Selected Publications

Expression and the Inner, Harvard University Press, 2003 (PDF chapter 1, PDF chapter 6)

“From Transparency to Expressivism,” in Günter Abel and James Conant (eds.) Rethinking Epistemology (De Gruyter, 2012): 101-118. PDF

Teorema Précis Volume XXX/3 (2011) PDF

Finkelstein's Teorema Replies Volume XXX/3 (2011) PDF

“Rule-Following,” forthcoming in The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the Language Sciences, ed. Patrick Colm Hogan, Cambridge University Press. PDF

“Expression and Avowal,” in Wittgenstein: Key Concepts, ed. Kelly Jolley (Durham, UK: Acumen Press, 2010): 185-198. PDF

"Holism and Animal Minds," Wittgenstein and the Moral Life: Essays in Honor of Cora Diamond, ed. Alice Crary (MIT, 2007) PDF.

"Wittgenstein's 'Plan for the treatment of psychological concepts'," in Wittgenstein in America, ed. Timothy McCarthy and Sean Stidd (Oxford, 2001): 215-236. PDF

"Wittgenstein on Rules and Platonism," in The New Wittgenstein, ed. Alice Crary and Rupert Reed (London: Routledge, 2000): 53-73. PDF

"On the Distinction between Conscious and Unconscious States of Mind," American Philosophical Quarterly 36 (2) (April 1999): 79-100. PDF

"On Self Blindness and the Inner Sense,"Philosophical Topics, Volume 26, Nos. 1 & 2, Spring & Fall 1999 PDF

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Media

David Finkelstein interviewed on WBEZ's "Odyssey"

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Recent Courses

PHIL 21505 Wonder, Magic, and Skepticism

In the course of discussing how it is that a philosophical problem arises in the first place, Wittgenstein says, “The decisive movement in the conjuring trick has been made, and it was the very one that we thought quite innocent.” This isn’t the only place where Wittgenstein speaks as if being gripped by philosophical problems is a matter of succumbing to illusions--as if a philosophers are magicians who are taken in by their own tricks. In this course, we’ll discuss philosophy and magical performance, with the aim of coming to a deeper understanding of what both are about. We’ll be particularly concerned with Wittgenstein’s picture of what philosophy is and does. Another focus of the course will be the passion of wonder. In the Theatetus, Plato has Socrates say, “The sense of wonder is the mark of the philosopher. Philosophy indeed has no other origin.” And when magicians write about their aesthetic aims, they almost always describe themselves as trying to instill wonder in others. Does magic end where philosophy begins? And what becomes of wonder after philosophy is done with it? (B)

Either three college-level philosophy courses, or Philosophical Perspectives plus two philosophy courses, or permission of the instructor.

2019-2020 Spring

PHIL 50100 First-Year Seminar

This course meets in Autumn and Winter quarters.

Enrollment limited to first-year graduate students.

2019-2020 Winter

PHIL 50100 First-Year Seminar

This course meets in Autumn and Winter quarters.

Enrollment limited to first-year graduate students.

2019-2020 Autumn

PHIL 53451 Perception and Self-Consciousness

In the first part of the course, we’ll be discussing an argument to the effect that: in order for radical skepticism about empirical knowledge not to be intellectually obligatory, we must understand ourselves as enjoying a very particular kind of self-consciousness. In the remainder of the course, we’ll be trying to get into view what an adequate account of that sort of self-consciousness might look like. (III)

2019-2020 Autumn

PHIL 50100 First Year Seminar

This course meets in Autumn and Winter quarters.

Enrollment limited to first-year graduate students.

2018-2019 Winter

PHIL 24100 Consciousness

In the first third of the course, we'll be discussing an argument to the effect that, in order for empirical knowledge to be so much as possible (so: in order for radical skepticism not be intellectually obligatory), we must enjoy a particular kind of self-consciousness. In the remainder of the course, we'll be trying to get into view what an adequate account of that sort of self-consciousness might look like. (B)

Either two courses in the Department of Philosophy, or Philosophical Perspectives plus one course in the Department of Philosophy.

2018-2019 Autumn
Category
Philosophy of Mind

PHIL 50100 First Year Seminar

This course meets in Autumn and Winter quarters.

Enrollment limited to first-year graduate students.

2018-2019 Autumn

PHIL 54101 Consciousness and Memory

Two questions that we’ll be addressing in this course are: (1) How should we understand the difference between conscious states of mind and conscious behaviors, on the one hand, and unconscious states of mind and unconscious behaviors, on the other? And (2) How, if it all, might a satisfactory answer to question 1 help us to think about the kinds of relations we bear to our own past states of mind and behaviors? Texts will include: the famous chapter of John Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding called “Of Identity and Diversity” (where Locke speaks of consciousness’s being “extended backwards” to past actions and thoughts), selections from late Wittgenstein’s writings, and various articulations of more contemporary theories of consciousness and self-knowledge. (III)

2017-2018 Spring
Category
Philosophy of Mind

PHIL 21506 Memory and Unity of a Person

In one of his most widely read pieces of writing—the chapter of his Essay Concerning Human Understanding called “Of Identity and Diversity”—John Locke writes: “[S]ince consciousness always accompanies thinking, and ‘tis that, that makes every one to be, what he calls self; and thereby distinguishes himself from all other thinking things, in this alone consists personal Identity, i.e. the sameness of rational Being: And as far as this consciousness can be extended backwards to any past Action or Thought, so far reaches the Identity of that Person…” Locke’s theory of personal identity has puzzled, annoyed, and inspired readers since it was published in the second edition of his Essay, in 1694. The main aim of this course will be to arrive at a reading of it that (1) situates it in the context of earlier philosophers’ writings about selves and souls, (2) is informed by an understanding of Locke’s own views concerning consciousness and memory, among other things, and (3) carefully considers objections that later writers—most famously Butler and Reid—made to Locke’s theory. In this endeavor, we’ll be aided by two excellent recent books: Udo Theil’s The Early Modern Subject (2011) and Galen Strawson’s Locke on Personal Identity (2011). Along the way, we’ll devote some time to considering one or two recent neo-Lockean accounts of personal identity. (B)

2016-2017 Spring
Category
Early Modern Philosophy (including Kant)
Philosophy of Mind

PHIL 50100 First Year Seminar

This course meets in Autumn and Winter quarters.

Enrollment limited to first-year graduate students.

2016-2017 Winter

PHIL 50100 First Year Seminar

This course meets in Autumn and Winter quarters.

Enrollment limited to first-year graduate students.

2016-2017 Autumn

PHIL 50213 Late Wittgenstein

This course is meant as an introduction to Wittgenstein's later work, with a focus on his *Philosophical Investigations.* Our central concerns will be: (1) Wittgenstein's metaphilosophy; (2) meaning, rule-following, and intentionality; and (3) sensations and privacy. (III)

Enrollment will be limited to philosophy Ph.D. students.

2016-2017 Autumn
Category
History of Analytic Philosophy
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For full list of David Finkelstein's courses back to the 2012-13 academic year, see our searchable course database.