Overview

The author of the highly popular book Think, which Time magazine hailed as "the one book every smart person should read to understand, and even enjoy, the key questions of philosophy," Simon Blackburn is that rara avis--an eminent thinker who is able to explain philosophy to the general reader. Now Blackburn offers a tour de force exploration of what he calls "the most exciting and engaging issue in the whole of philosophy"--the age-old war over truth.
The front lines of this ...
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Truth : A Guide

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Overview

The author of the highly popular book Think, which Time magazine hailed as "the one book every smart person should read to understand, and even enjoy, the key questions of philosophy," Simon Blackburn is that rara avis--an eminent thinker who is able to explain philosophy to the general reader. Now Blackburn offers a tour de force exploration of what he calls "the most exciting and engaging issue in the whole of philosophy"--the age-old war over truth.
The front lines of this war are well defined. On one side are those who believe in plain, unvarnished facts, rock-solid truths that can be found through reason and objectivity--that science leads to truth, for instance. Their opponents mock this idea. They see the dark forces of language, culture, power, gender, class, ideology and desire--all subverting our perceptions of the world, and clouding our judgement with false notions of absolute truth. Beginning with an early skirmish in the war--when Socrates confronted the sophists in ancient Athens--Blackburn offers a penetrating look at the longstanding battle these two groups have waged, examining the philosophical battles fought by Plato, Protagoras, William James, David Hume, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Richard Rorty, and many others, with a particularly fascinating look at Nietzsche. Among the questions Blackburn considers are: is science mere opinion, can historians understand another historical period, and indeed can one culture ever truly understand another.
Blackburn concludes that both sides have merit, and that neither has exclusive ownership of truth. What is important is that, whichever side we embrace, we should know where we stand and what is to be said for our opponents.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Blackburn (philosophy, Univ. of Cambridge; Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy) wants to help readers attain a philosophical understanding of the concept of "truth." What does it mean, he asks, to make a statement that asserts this concept? The average person, perhaps, has no trouble doing so, but analysis of it goes to the heart of philosophical puzzlement. Blackburn reviews what philosophers, writers, novelists, scientists, and disparate thinkers have had to say about it, including Plato, Francis Bacon, Voltaire, Locke, Hume, Wittgenstein, William James, Rorty, and Nietzsche-especially Rorty and Nietzsche owing to their central and contrasting views. In this detailed consideration, Blackburn himself seems to favor objective standards for truth rather than the subjectivist, relativist position. His writing is fluid, highly literate, and deeply informed, but by its very nature it will be tough going for anyone who is not philosophically inclined and oriented. Highly recommended, then, for academic philosophy and literature collections.-Leon H. Brody, U.S. Office of Personnel Management Lib., Washington, DC Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198037576
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 5/17/2005
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 293 KB

Meet the Author

Simon Blackburn is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge. He was Edna J. Doury Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina, and from 1969 to 1990 was a Fellow and Tutor at Pembroke College, Oxford. He is the author of The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy and the best-selling Think and Being Good, among other books.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix
Introduction xiii
Chapter 1 Faith, Belief and Reason
1 Clifford's Duties 3
2 Will and Passion in James 7
3 Fiction and Myth 13
4 Kinds of Animation 19
Chapter 2 Man the Measure
1 Turning the Tables: the Recoil Argument 25
2 Modern Judo 29
3 The Variation of Subjectivities 32
4 The Moving Bull's-eye 36
5 Doing it Ourselves 39
Chapter 3 Ishmael's Problem and the Delights of Keeping Quiet
1 Who Tells the Tale? 47
2 A Gestalt Switch 55
3 You Tell Me, or Down with Pilate 58
4 Moral Relativism 63
5 Man the Measurer 67
6 Summary 70
Chapter 4 Nietzsche: the Arch Debunker
1 Facts or Interpretations? 75
2 Twilight of the Idols 79
3 Perspectivism 85
4 Adequate Words 92
5 Heraclitus and the Flux 98
6 The Darwinian Element 104
Chapter 5 The Possibility of Philosophy
1 Getting Puzzled 109
2 Four Responses 112
3 Eliminativism 114
4 Realism 117
5 Deconstructing the Issue 121
6 The Constructivist Corner 124
7 The Example of Wittgenstein 129
Chapter 6 Observation and Truth: from Locke to Rorty
1 Paradise Lost 139
2 First Impressions 140
3 Holism 144
4 Davidson's Mantle 148
5 Rorty's Talking World 151
6 Keeping our Feet on the Ground 156
7 Interlude: Law, Tennis and the Coffee-house 162
8 A Political Message 166
Chapter 7 Realism as Science; Realism about Science
1 No Miracles 175
2 Science Red in Tooth and Claw 178
3 Explaining from Within 180
4 Animation and Belief Again 185
5 Underdetermination 190
Chapter 8 Historians and Others
1 Conceptual Schemes 199
2 Mind Reading 205
3 Mirroring 210
4 Infirmities 213
5 Collectives and their Histories 219
6 Peace Breaks Out 220
Notes 223
Index 235
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