Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy / Edition 1

Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy / Edition 1

by Bernard Williams
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0691117918

ISBN-13: 9780691117911

Pub. Date: 02/02/2004

Publisher: Princeton University Press

What does it mean to be truthful? What role does truth play in our lives? What do we lose if we reject truthfulness? No philosopher is better suited to answer these questions than Bernard Williams. Writing with his characteristic combination of passion and elegant simplicity, he explores the value of truth and finds it to be both less and more than we might imagine

Overview

What does it mean to be truthful? What role does truth play in our lives? What do we lose if we reject truthfulness? No philosopher is better suited to answer these questions than Bernard Williams. Writing with his characteristic combination of passion and elegant simplicity, he explores the value of truth and finds it to be both less and more than we might imagine.

Modern culture exhibits two attitudes toward truth: suspicion of being deceived (no one wants to be fooled) and skepticism that objective truth exists at all (no one wants to be naive). This tension between a demand for truthfulness and the doubt that there is any truth to be found is not an abstract paradox. It has political consequences and signals a danger that our intellectual activities, particularly in the humanities, may tear themselves to pieces.

Williams's approach, in the tradition of Nietzsche's genealogy, blends philosophy, history, and a fictional account of how the human concern with truth might have arisen. Without denying that we should worry about the contingency of much that we take for granted, he defends truth as an intellectual objective and a cultural value. He identifies two basic virtues of truth, Accuracy and Sincerity, the first of which aims at finding out the truth and the second at telling it. He describes different psychological and social forms that these virtues have taken and asks what ideas can make best sense of them today.

Truth and Truthfulness presents a powerful challenge to the fashionable belief that truth has no value, but equally to the traditional faith that its value guarantees itself. Bernard Williams shows us that when we lose a sense of the value of truth, we lose a lot both politically and personally, and may well lose everything.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691117911
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
02/02/2004
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
344
Sales rank:
1,318,080
Product dimensions:
6.06(w) x 9.22(h) x 0.82(d)

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The Problem
1. Truthfulness and Truth 1
2. Authority 7
3. Nietzsche 12
Chapter 2: Genealogy
1. Real and Fictional 20
2. Naturalism 22
3. The State of Nature Is Not the Pleistocene 27
4. How Can Fictions Help? 31
5. Shameful Origins 35
6. The Genealogy of Truthfulness 38
Chapter 3: The State of Nature: A Rough Guide
1. The Division of Labour 41
2. Plain Truths 45
3. Space, Time, and Indeterminacy 53
4. Value: The Story So Far 57
Chapter 4: Truth, Assertion, and Belief
1. Truth Itself 63
2. Assertions and Truth 66
3. Assertions and Knowledge 76
4. Beliefs and Truth 79
Chapter 5: Sincerity: Lying and Other Styles of Deceit
1. Value: An Internal Connection? 84
2. Trust 88
3. Trustworthiness in Speech 93
4. Dispositions of Sincerity 96
5. Fetishizing Assertion 100
6. Deserving the Truth 110
Chapter 6: Accuracy: A Sense of Reality
1. The Elaboration of Accuracy 123
2. Methods and Obstacles 126
3. Realismand Fantasy 135
4. Truthfulness and Freedom 141
Chapter 7: What Was Wrong with Minos?
1. Introduction 149
2. Thucydides 151
3. "Legendary Times" 155
4. The Past and the Truth 161
Chapter 8: From Sincerity to Authenticity
1. An Ambiguous Invention 172
2. Rousseau 173
3. Diderot and Rameau's Nephew 185
4. Steadying the Mind 191
5. Authenticity and Other People 199
Chapter 9: Truthfulness, Liberalism, and Critique
1. Truth and Politics 206
2. Democracy and Liberty 210
3. The Marketplace of Ideas 213
4. Critique 219
5. The Critical Theory Test 225
Chapter 10: Making Sense
1. Narratives 233
2. Structures and Explanations 241
3. Audiences 250
4. Needs 258
Endnote. The Vocabulary of Truth: An Example 271
Notes 279
Bibliography 309
Acknowledgements 321
Index 323

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