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Nelson Goodman

NELSON GOODMAN’S WORK touched on so many fields—philosophy, of course, but also the arts, the sciences, and psychology—that it is difficult for anyone to appreciate, much less summarize, what it has all meant for us, or even to specify the “us” that will continue to have some stake in his work. More appreciated in Europe than America, invoked as an authority in fields from cognitive science to artificial intelligence to art criticism to analytic philosophy, Goodman has had a massive yet unobtrusive influence on contemporary thinking in a wide variety of disciplines. He never achieved the kind of cult status sometimes accorded to philosophers in the art world. His thought moved with quiet wit and authority, rarely engaging in the pyrotechnics that make a philosopher quotable and therefore reducible to a few slogans. Goodman does not leave behind an industry built on key words like “differance”

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