The Four Dimensions of Philosophy: Metaphysical, Moral, Objective, Categorical

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In Greek and Roman antiquity, philosophy was supreme in the domain of learning. Philosophy was the name for the pursuit of truth about the most fundamental things to be known or understood. It was the most desirable of all the goods of the mind. But today we live in an age dominated by science and technology - an age that has witnessed not only the rise of positivism, but the retreat of academic philosophy to an analysis of language. Professorial philosophy has become as specialized a subject as logic and ...
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Overview

In Greek and Roman antiquity, philosophy was supreme in the domain of learning. Philosophy was the name for the pursuit of truth about the most fundamental things to be known or understood. It was the most desirable of all the goods of the mind. But today we live in an age dominated by science and technology - an age that has witnessed not only the rise of positivism, but the retreat of academic philosophy to an analysis of language. Professorial philosophy has become as specialized a subject as logic and mathematics. If anyone asks why we should be concerned with the intellectual respectability of philosophy, this book provides the answer. Try to imagine a world from which philosophy is totally absent. Imagine a world in which no one philosophizes to any degree - that done almost unconsciously by ordinary men and women or inexpertly by scientists, historians, poets, novelists, and dramatists. Imagine a world in which philosophy is completely expunged. Philosophy is not taught, even poorly in our colleges. No philosophical books are written. In the Prologue to this book, Dr. Adler asks us to consider whether that deprivation would make any difference to us. Though we might not realize it, a great many of our opinions and beliefs would go unquestioned; for any enlightenment about those beliefs can come only from philosophizing about them, about the shape of the world and our place in it: questions about what we should be doing and what we should be seeking; questions that are not answerable by empirical science and historical research. What, then, are philosophy's four dimensions? Science gives us only partial knowledge and superficial understanding of the reality about which philosophy gives us a more penetrating analysis and a deeper understanding (Dimension One). Science gives us no knowledge or understanding of the good life and the good society. This moral and political philosophy gives us Dimension Two. Science gives us no understanding at all of the intel
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Adler's central thesis, in this concise, lucid survey, is that philosophy not only ranks on a par with science as a means to knowledge, but also claims superiority over science in certain areas, for example, in telling us what ends we ought to pursue. The prolific author of Six Great Ideas equips the armchair thinker with a road map to Western philosophy's peaks, abysses and abiding questions as he underscores the pitfalls to be avoided, and fruits to be won, in pursuing four distinct philosophical realms--metaphysical, moral, objective (i.e., understanding of ideas) and categorical (understanding of subjects). Adler's approach ranges widely, moving from ``disorders'' of medieval thought to the modern ``political illnesses'' of nationalism, tribalism and xenophobia. This invigorating introduction to how philosophy works emphasizes the importance of philosophical introspection in the lives of ordinary men and women. (July)
Library Journal
Adler's 53rd book is an introduction to such questions as ``What is philosophy?'' ``What are its relations to other forms of thought?'' and ``What are the structures through which philosophical knowledge is derived and validated?'' No new ground is covered, but Adler writes in a competent, nontechnical style that will be appreciated by the general reader, who is the most likely candidate for this book. Later sections of the text lean heavily on the topical outlines found in the multivolume Great Books of the Western World , published by Encyclopaedia Britannica. Readers unfamiliar with this collection, or with the supplementary materials accompanying it, may find Adler's text more accessible after examining the Great Books. For an alternative, readers should examine Thomas Nagel's What Does It All Mean?: A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy ( LJ 10/1/87).-- Terry Skeats, Bishop's Univ. Lib., Lennoxville, Quebec
Caroline Paulison
At the age of 91, Adler is still cranking out books aimed mostly at explaining philosophy to the general public. Here he addresses the lack of respect philosophy has endured since Newton, and shows, through the four aspects of philosophy, why this discipline is worthy of more respect than practical science. His tactic is to discuss how philosophy, like history, is a reflexive study--there can be a philosophy of philosophy as well as a philosophy of biology or archaeology--and how without philosophy ideas could not be pieced together into a theory. His long-winded preface discusses his beginnings as a philosopher as well as some of his own views on philosophy, and the last chapter includes an interesting discussion on the discipline's future. Philosophy has indeed suffered through the years, and Adler and his multitude of books have done nothing but help the discipline's sagging image by explaining philosophy and its importance to the general reader.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780025005747
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 6/21/1993
  • Pages: 320

Meet the Author

Mortimer J. Adler is Chairman of the Board of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Director of the Institute for Philosophical Research, and Honorary Trustee of the Aspen Institute. He has authored fifty books. He lives in Chicago.

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Table of Contents

Prologue Everybody's Business
Pt. 1 The Conditions of Philosophy: A Recapitulation
1 An Autonomous Branch of Knowledge 3
2 Diverse Modes of Inquiry 8
3 First and Second Intentions 17
4 Presuppositions 21
5 Tests of Truth in Philosophy 28
6 Philosophy and Common Sense 43
7 Science and Philosophy 49
Pt. 2 Philosophical Knowledge: The First Two Dimensions
8 Regarding Philosophical Knowledge 75
9 Metaphysics: What There Is in Reality 106
10 Moral and Political Philosophy: The Good Life and the Good Society 124
Pt. 3 Philosophical Analysis: The Third and Fourth Dimensions
11 Regarding Philosophical Analysis 145
12 The Understanding of Ideas 149
13 The Understanding of Subjects 195
Epilogue Philosophy's Past, Present, and Future 224
Index 263
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