1 The Project

1. Human nature

2. Philosophical anthropology

3. Grammatical investigation

4. Philosophical investigation

5. Philosophy and ‘mere words’

6. A challenge to the autonomy of the philosophical enterprise: Quine

7. The Platonic and Aristotelian traditions in philosophical anthropology

2 Substance

1. Substances: things

2. Substances: stuffs

3. Substance-referring expressions

4. Conceptual connections between things and stuffs

5. Substances and their substantial parts

6. Substances conceived as natural kinds

7. Substances conceived as a common logico-linguistic category

8. A historical digression: misconceptions of the category of substance

3 Causation

1. Causation: Humean, neo-Humean and anti-Humean

2. On causal necessity

3. Event causation is not a prototype

4. The inadequacy of Hume’s analysis: observability, spatio-temporal relations and regularity

5. The flaw in the early modern debate

6. Agent causation as prototype

7. Agent causation is only a prototype

8. Event causation and other centres of variation

9. Overview

4 Powers

1. Possibility

2. Powers of the inanimate

3. Active and passive powers of the inanimate

4. Power and its actualization

5. Power and its vehicle

6. First- and second-order powers; loss of power

7. Human powers: basic distinctions

8. Human powers: further distinctions

9. Dispositions

5 Agency

1. Inanimate agents

2. Inanimate needs

3. Animate agents: needs and wants

4. Volitional agency: preliminaries

5. Doings, acts and actions

6. Human agency and action

7. A historical overview

8. Human action as agential causation of movement

6 Teleology and Teleological Explanation

1. Teleology and purpose

2. What things have a purpose?

3. Purpose and axiology

4. The beneficial

5. A historical digression: teleology and causality

7 Reasons and Explanation of Human Action

1. Rationality and reasonableness

2. Reason, reasoning and reasons

3. Explaining human behaviour

4. Explanation in terms of agential reasons

5. Causal mythologies

8 The Mind

1. Homo loquens

2. The Cartesian mind

3. The nature of the mind

9 The Self and the Body

1. The emergence of the philosophers’ self

2. The illusion of the philosophers’ self

3. The body

4. The relationship between human beings and their bodies

10 The Person

1. The emergence of the concept

2. An unholy trinity: Descartes, Locke and Hume

3. Changing bodies and switching brains: puzzle cases and red herrings

4. The concept of a person


Recent books by P. M. S. Hacker published by Wiley-Blackwell

Wittgenstein’s Place in Twentieth-Century Analytic Philosophy (1996)

Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience (2003), co-authored with M. R. Bennett

Wittgenstein: Understanding and Meaning, Volume 1 of An Analytical Commentary on the Philosophical Investigations, Part I – Essays (2005), co-authored with G. P. Baker, second, extensively revised edition by P. M. S. Hacker

Wittgenstein: Understanding and Meaning, Volume 1 of An Analytical Commentary on the Philosophical Investigations, Part II – Exegesis s.jpgs.jpg 1–184 (2005), co-authored with G. P. Baker, second, extensively revised edition by P. M. S. Hacker

History of Cognitive Neuroscience (2008), co-authored with M. R. Bennett

Wittgenstein: Rules, Grammar, and Necessity, Volume 2 of an Analytical Commentary on the Philosophical Investigations – Essays and Exegesis of s.jpgs.jpg 185–242 (2009), co-authored with G. P. Baker, second, extensively revised edition by P. M. S. Hacker



Hans Oberdiek


Philosophy is of little worth unless it aspires to give an overview of a whole domain of thought, to display the ramifying network of conceptual relationships that characterize it, and to resolve problems and puzzlements that characteristically accompany reflection on it. As I reached the end of my academic career, I felt a powerful urge to paint a last large fresco that would depict, sometimes with broad brush, sometimes in fine detail, themes which I had studied and reflected on for the last forty years. The domain I have striven to portray in this book is that of human nature. I have tried to give a perspicuous representation of the most fundamental concepts and conceptual forms in terms of which we think about ourselves. These range from the most general categorial concepts of substance, causation, power and agency to the more specific and specifically anthropological concepts of rationality, mind, body and person. This book, Human Nature: The Categorial Framework, sketches the structural background and paints the central landmarks of the panorama I have in view. I intend to continue my endeavours in a volume entitled Human Nature: The Cognitive and Cogitative Powers that will add to the fresco more and finer detail. If time and fortune permit, I hope to write a concluding volume, Human Nature: The Affective and Moral Powers.

To enable readers, especially students, to take in at a glance some parts of my argument and some of the classifications elaborated, I introduced the occasional tree diagram and comparative list. These are often no more than illustrations to the text, sometimes over- simplifying for purposes of surveyability. They are meant to illuminate the argument, as a picture illustrates a story, not to be a substitute for it.

Many friends and acquaintances have encouraged me and given me moral support in the course of writing this book. One of the delights of philosophy is discussion with others who toil on the same rocky pathways and jungle trails, and who not only hold out a helping hand when one slips, and correct one when one takes a wrong path, but also help one blaze a trail. I have been blessed with such friends. If, in the course of these numerous discussions, merriment kept breaking through – as indeed it did – I never found this an impediment to philosophy, but a mark of shared delight in the common pursuit of understanding.

I am grateful to Maria Alvarez, Erich Ammereller, Hanoch Ben-Yami, Stephan Blatti, John Dupré, Hanjo Glock, the late Oswald Hanfling, John Hyman, Wolfgang Künne, Anselm Müller, Bede Rundle, Con- stantine Sandis, the late Peter Strawson, and David Wiggins, who all read one or more (and some read many more) of the chapters and gave me the great benefit of their criticisms and suggestions. I should like to record my gratitude to Anthony Kenny, whose encouragement in this enterprise, as in others in the past, spurred me on. I have learnt more from his luminous writings and incisive remarks than I can say. I owe a special debt to Hans Oberdiek and to Herman Philipse, who kindly read the whole draft, and whose detailed comments and suggestions were invaluable. I am, as I have so often been in the past, much indebted to Jean van Altena for her expert copy-editing and judicious advice.

I am happy to record my gratitude to my college, St John’s, which is unstinting in its support of scholarship, the pursuit of knowledge and the quest for understanding.

Chapter 2 of this book is a modified version of the paper entitled ‘Substance: Things and Stuffs’, published in the Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, suppl. vol. 78 (2004), pp. 41–63. A much short- ened version of chapters 8 and 9 was delivered as a plenary lecture at Kirchberg, August 2006, and is to be published in the Proceedings of the 29th International Wittgenstein Symposium. A variant of the same paper was delivered as the opening address at the meeting of the British Society for the Philosophy of Education in Oxford, March 2006. A part of chapter 7 is to be published in Constantine Sandis (ed.), New Essays on the Explanation of Action.

P. M. S. Hacker

St John’s College, Oxford

July 2006

. . . les principes sont dans l’usage commun et devant les yeux de tout le monde. On n’a que faire de tourner la tête, ni de se faire violence; il n’est question que d’avoir bonne vue. Mais il faut l’avoir bonne, car les principes sont si déliés, et en si grand nombre qu’il est presque impossible qu’il n’en échappe. Or l’omission d’un principe mène a l’erreur. Ainsi il faut avoir la vue bien nette pour voir tous les principes, et ensuite l’esprit juste pour ne pas raisonner faussement sur des principes connus.

. . . the principles are found in common use, and are there for all to see. One has only to look, and no effort is necessary; it is only a question of good eyesight, but it must be good, for the principles are so subtle and numerous, that it is almost impossible but that some escape notice. Now the omission of one principle leads to error; so one needs very clear sight to see all the principles, as well as an accurate mind to avoid drawing false conclusions from known principles.

Pascal, Pensées, I, 1