Grand Theories and Everyday Beliefs: Science, Philosophy, and their Histories

Hardcover | November 16, 2011

byWallace Matson

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After a Darwinian-type account of what beliefs are and how they arose in animals acting to cope with their environments -"low beliefs," virtually all of which are true - Wallace Matson here shows how the invention of language led to imagination and thence to beliefs formed in other ways("high beliefs"), not true though thought to be, which could be consolidated into mythologies, the first Grand Unified Theories of Everything. Science began when Thales of Miletus produced a Grand Theory based on low ("everyday") beliefs. Matson traces the course of science and philosophy throughseven centuries to their sudden and violent displacement by Christianity with its Grand Theory of the old type. Against the widespread opinion that modern philosophy has slowly but completely emancipated itself from bondage to theology, he shows how remnants from the medieval 'interlude' still lurk unnoticed in the purportedly neutral notions of logical possibility, possible worlds, and laws as commands, tothe detriment of the natural harmony between science and philosophy, including ethics. Accessibly written, this is a book for all who are interested in the foundations of 21st century thought and who wonder where the cracks might be.

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After a Darwinian-type account of what beliefs are and how they arose in animals acting to cope with their environments -"low beliefs," virtually all of which are true - Wallace Matson here shows how the invention of language led to imagination and thence to beliefs formed in other ways("high beliefs"), not true though thought to be, ...

Wallace Matson is Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the co-author of A New History of Philosophy, Vol. I and II.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:238 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.3 inPublished:November 16, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199812691

ISBN - 13:9780199812691

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction.Part One: Before Miletus2. A Brief History of Coping.3. Language4. High and Low Beliefs5. The 'Will to Believe'6. Eden7. BabylonPart Two:Miletus to Alexandria8. Miletus: the Invention of Science9. Anaximander and Anaximenes10. Science and Philosophy Come to Italy11. Athens I12. Atomism13. Athens II: Plato14. Athens III: Aristotle15. Alexandria16. Beliefs About BelieversPart Three: The Legacy of Christianity17. Jerusalem Collides with Athens18. Cartesianism19. Miletus Preserved I: Hobbes20. Institutions21. Miletus Preserved II: Spinoza22. The Strange Case of David Hume23. Ethics Without Edification.24. L'Envoi25. Conclusion?