Grand Theories and Everyday Beliefs

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

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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 through seven 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, to the 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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Product details

  • Hardback | 240 pages
  • 162 x 236 x 22mm | 446g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0199812691
  • 9780199812691
  • 1,061,854

Table of contents

Chapter 1. Introduction. ; PART ONE. BEFORE MILETUS ; Chapter 2. A Brief History of Coping. ; Chapter 3. Language ; Chapter 4. High and Low Beliefs ; Chapter 5. The 'Will to Believe' ; Chapter 6. Eden ; Chapter 7. Babylon ; PART TWO. MILETUS TO ALEXANDRIA ; Chapter 8. Miletus: the Invention of Science ; Chapter 9. Anaximander and Anaximenes ; Chapter 10. Science and Philosophy Come to Italy ; Chapter 11. Athens I. ; Chapter 12. Atomism ; Chapter 13. Athens II: Plato ; Chapter 14. Athens III: Aristotle ; Chapter 15. Alexandria ; Chapter 16. Beliefs About Believers ; PART THREE. THE LEGACY OF CHRISTIANITY ; Chapter 17. Jerusalem Collides with Athens ; Chapter 18. Cartesianism ; Chapter 19. Miletus Preserved I: Hobbes ; Chapter 20. Institutions ; Chapter 21. Miletus Preserved II: Spinoza ; Chapter 22. The Strange Case of David Hume ; Chapter 23. Ethics Without Edification. ; Chapter 24. L'Envoi ; Chapter 25. Conclusion?
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Review quote

The book offers an innovative and exciting perspective on two problems important in the contemporary philosophy of science: that false beliefs are ubiquitous and that propositions have a shady ontological status... Matson sets off in a fresh, if not entirely new, direction ... Grand Theories and Everyday Beliefs is well worth reading. * William Hughes, Science *
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About Wallace Matson

Professor of Philosophy, University of California, Berkeley. Co-author of A NEW HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY, vols 1 and 2 (Wadsworth)
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Rating details

9 ratings
4.11 out of 5 stars
5 22% (2)
4 67% (6)
3 11% (1)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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