The Last Word

The Last Word

3.75 (103 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

If there is such a thing as reason, it has to be universal - it must work the same way for everyone. Reason must reflect objective principles whose validity is independent of our point of view. To reason is to think systematically in ways that anyone looking on ought to be able to recognize as correct. But this generality of reason is what relativists and subjectivists deny in ever-increasing numbers. And such subjectivism is not just an inconsequential intellectual flourish or badge of theoretical chic. It is exploited to deflect argument and to belittle the pretensions of the arguments of others. The continuing spread of this relativistic way of thinking threatens to make public discourse increasingly difficult and to exacerbate the deep divisions of our society. In The Last Word, Thomas Nagel, one of the most influential philosophers writing in English, presents a sustained defence of reason against the attacks of subjectivism, delivering systematic rebuttals of relativistic claims with respect to language, logic, science, and ethics. His work sets a new standard in the debate on this crucially important question and should generate intense interest both within and outside the philosophical community.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 156 pages
  • 144 x 213.9 x 17.5mm | 343.38g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 0195108345
  • 9780195108347
  • 2,024,313

Review quote

Thomas Nagel stands out among today's best philosophers in retaning closer links with the big puzzles and mysteries that first attract most people to philosophy. He has a livelier sense of their depth and power than is conspicuous elsewhere in the academic study of philosophy, and admirably resists the widespread tendency to deny a thing's existence because it is difficult or perhaps impossible to understand. * Times Literary Supplement * Thomas Nagel is not one of those philosophers afraid to tackle the big issues. He also, rather refreshingly, has what Ludwig Wittgenstein once called "the courage to write a short book". ... I recommend Nagel's book as the intellectual equivalent of a cold shower. ... I find myself persuaded by Nagel that all attempts to subjectivise or relativise logic must enmesh themselves in contraditions. * The Times Higher Education Supplement, 26 September 1997 *show more

About Thomas Nagel

Thomas Nagel is Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University. He is the author of The View from Nowhere, What Does It All Mean?, The Possibility of Altruism, Mortal Questions, Equality and Partiality, and Other Minds: Critical Essays, 1969-1994.show more

Back cover copy

If there is such a thing as reason, it has to be universal. Reason must reflect objective principles whose validity is independent of our point of view - principles that anyone with enough intelligence ought to be able to recognize as correct. But this universality of reason is what relativists and subjectivists deny in ever-increasing numbers. And such subjectivism is not just an inconsequential intellectual flourish or badge of theoretical chic. It is exploited to deflect argument and to belittle the pretensions of the arguments of others. The continuing spread of this relativistic way of thinking threatens to make public discourse increasingly difficult and unproductive. In The Last Word, Thomas Nagel, one of the most influential philosophers writing in English, presents a sustained defense of reason against the attacks of subjectivism, delivering systematic rebuttals of relativistic claims with respect to language, logic, science, and ethics. He shows that the last word in disputes about the objective validity of any form of thought must lie in some unqualified thoughts about how things are - thoughts that we cannot regard from outside as mere psychological dispositions. His work sets a new standard in the debate on this crucially important question and should generate intense interest both within and outside the philosophical community.show more

Rating details

103 ratings
3.75 out of 5 stars
5 23% (24)
4 43% (44)
3 23% (24)
2 8% (8)
1 3% (3)
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