What's the Use of Truth?

Overview

What is truth? What value should we see in or attribute to it?

The war over the meaning and utility of truth is at the center of contemporary philosophical debate, and its arguments have rocked the foundations of philosophical practice. In this book, the American pragmatist Richard Rorty and the French analytic philosopher Pascal Engel present their radically different perspectives on truth and its correspondence to reality.

Rorty doubts that ...

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Overview

What is truth? What value should we see in or attribute to it?

The war over the meaning and utility of truth is at the center of contemporary philosophical debate, and its arguments have rocked the foundations of philosophical practice. In this book, the American pragmatist Richard Rorty and the French analytic philosopher Pascal Engel present their radically different perspectives on truth and its correspondence to reality.

Rorty doubts that the notion of truth can be of any practical use and points to the preconceptions that lie behind truth in both the intellectual and social spheres. Engel prefers a realist conception, defending the relevance and value of truth as a norm of belief and inquiry in both science and the public domain. Rorty finds more danger in using the notion of truth than in getting rid of it. Engel thinks it is important to hold on to the idea that truth is an accurate representation of reality.

In Rorty's view, epistemology is an artificial construct meant to restore a function to philosophy usurped by the success of empirical science. Epistemology and ontology are false problems, and with their demise goes the Cartesian dualism of subject and object and the ancient problematic of appearance and reality. Conventional "philosophical problems," Rorty asserts, are just symptoms of the professionalism that has disfigured the discipline since the time of Kant. Engel, however, is by no means as complacent as Rorty in heralding the "end of truth," and he wages a fierce campaign against the "veriphobes" who deny its value.

What's the Use of Truth? is a rare opportunity to experience each side of this impassioned debate clearly and concisely. It is a subject that has profound implications not only for philosophical inquiry but for the future study of all aspects of our culture as well.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist

Necessary for serious philosophy collections.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231140140
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 1/23/2007
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 4.70 (w) x 7.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Rorty (1931-2007) was professor of comparative literature and philosophy at Stanford University. His Columbia University Press books are An Ethics for Today: Finding Common Ground Between Philosophy and Religion and What's the Use of Truth?Pascal Engel is ordinary professor of contemporary philosophy at the University of Geneva, after having taught at the Sorbonne. He is the author of The Norm of Truth, Ramsey, Truth and Success, and Truth, and of books in French on Davidson, the philosophy of the mind, and analytic philosophy. His present work is focused on epistemology.

Columbia University Press

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Read an Excerpt

We must ponder carefully what is at stake in this challenge to the philosophy of representation, to philosophy as the "mirror of nature," as Rorty puts it. It is necessary, in his view, to go beyond the critique of superstition and subject the realist presuppositions and pretensions of modern representationist philosophy to critique as well. The question is to what extent this charge is legitimate. Might it only be "true?"& mdash;from the introduction by Patrick Savidan, lecturer in philosophy at the University of Paris-Sorbonne

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