Truth: A Guide

Paperback | January 15, 2007

bySimon Blackburn

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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 generalreader. 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 thelongstanding 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 questionsBlackburn 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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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 generalreader. Now Blackburn offers a tour de force explo...

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 Bei...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 5.31 × 7.91 × 0.51 inPublished:January 15, 2007Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195315804

ISBN - 13:9780195315806

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Table of Contents

PrefaceIntroductionCHAPTER 1: FAITH, BELIEF AND REASON1. Clifford's Duties2. Fiction and MythJames4. Kinds of AnimationCHAPTER 2: MAN THE MEASURE1. Turning the Tables: the Recoil Argument2. Modern Judo3. The Variation of Subjectives4. The Moving Bull's-eye5. Doing it OurselvesCHAPTER 3: ISHMAEL'S PROBLEM AND THE DELIGHTS OF KEEPING QUIET1. Who Tell the Tale?2. A Gestalt Switch3. You Tell Me, or Down with Pilate4. Moral Relativism5. Man the Measurer6. SummaryCHAPTER 4: NIETZCHE: THE ARCH DEBUNKER1. Facts or Interpretations?2. Twilight of the Idols 3. Perspectivism4. Adequate Words5. Heraclitus and the Flux6. The Darwinian ElementCHAPTER 5: THE POSSIBILITY OF PHILOSOPHY1. Getting Puzzled2. Four Responses3. Eliminativism4. Realism5. Deconstructing the Issue6. The Constructivist Corner7. The Example of WittgensteinCHAPTER 6: OBSERVATION AND TRUTH: FROM LOCKE TO RORTY1. Paradise Lost2. First Impressions3. Holism4. Davidson's Mantle5. Rorty's Talking World6. Keeping our Feet on the Ground7. Interlude: Law, Tennis, and the Coffee-house8. A Political MessageCHAPTER 7: REALISM AS SCIENCE; REALISM ABOUT SCIENCE1. No Miracles2. Science Red in Tooth and Claw3. Explaining from Within4. Animation and Belief Again5. UnderdeterminationCHAPTER 8: HISTORIANS AND OTHERS1. Conceptual Schemes2. Mind Reading3. Mirroring4. Infirmities5. Collectives and their Histories6. Peace Breaks OutNotesIndex

Editorial Reviews

"Between the Scylla of relativism and the Charybdis of absolutism, Simon Blackburn does not merely navigate, but pleasure-sails, visiting and appreciating each. Whether you are appalled by postmodernism, incensed by smug scientism, or simply 'perplexed,' you'll find Blackburn's 'guide'edifying. Learn here what truth is, why it is so elusive, and what hope there is for human knowledge."--Louise Antony, Professor of Philosophy, The Ohio State University