Truth : A Guide

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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 general reader. 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 the longstanding 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 questions Blackburn 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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Product details

  • Paperback | 272 pages
  • 141 x 216 x 17mm | 360g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195315804
  • 9780195315806
  • 437,856

Table of contents

PREFACE ; INTRODUCTION ; CHAPTER 1: FAITH, BELIEF AND REASON ; 1. Clifford's Duties ; 2. Fiction and MythJames ; 4. Kinds of Animation ; CHAPTER 2: MAN THE MEASURE ; 1. Turning the Tables: the Recoil Argument ; 2. Modern Judo ; 3. The Variation of Subjectives ; 4. The Moving Bull's-eye ; 5. Doing it Ourselves ; CHAPTER 3: ISHMAEL'S PROBLEM AND THE DELIGHTS OF KEEPING QUIET ; 1. Who Tell the Tale? ; 2. A Gestalt Switch ; 3. You Tell Me, or Down with Pilate ; 4. Moral Relativism ; 5. Man the Measurer ; 6. Summary ; CHAPTER 4: NIETZCHE: THE ARCH DEBUNKER ; 1. Facts or Interpretations? ; 2. Twilight of the Idols ; 3. Perspectivism ; 4. Adequate Words ; 5. Heraclitus and the Flux ; 6. The Darwinian Element ; CHAPTER 5: THE POSSIBILITY OF PHILOSOPHY ; 1. Getting Puzzled ; 2. Four Responses ; 3. Eliminativism ; 4. Realism ; 5. Deconstructing the Issue ; 6. The Constructivist Corner ; 7. The Example of Wittgenstein ; CHAPTER 6: OBSERVATION AND TRUTH: FROM LOCKE TO RORTY ; 1. Paradise Lost ; 2. First Impressions ; 3. Holism ; 4. Davidson's Mantle ; 5. Rorty's Talking World ; 6. Keeping our Feet on the Ground ; 7. Interlude: Law, Tennis, and the Coffee-house ; 8. A Political Message ; CHAPTER 7: REALISM AS SCIENCE; REALISM ABOUT SCIENCE ; 1. No Miracles ; 2. Science Red in Tooth and Claw ; 3. Explaining from Within ; 4. Animation and Belief Again ; 5. Underdetermination ; CHAPTER 8: HISTORIANS AND OTHERS ; 1. Conceptual Schemes ; 2. Mind Reading ; 3. Mirroring ; 4. Infirmities ; 5. Collectives and their Histories ; 6. Peace Breaks Out ; NOTES ; INDEX
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Review quote

Blackburn's lively new book 'Truth: A Guide' will challenge and surprise you.... The great achievement of 'Truth' is to encapsulate the major lines of argument on this intractable question within the covers of a book you can read in a day or two. His chapter on Nietzsche, the fountainhead of modern philosophy and the patron saint of relativism, is worth the price of admission by itself. * Andrew O'Hehir, * Admirably sketching the battle lines currently staked out over the idea of objective truth, [Blackburn] makes his subject lively and accessible even as he parts some of its deepest waters.... Blackburn considers truth 'the most exciting and engaging issue in the whole of philosophy,' and, with wit and erudition, he succeeds in proving that point. * Publishers Weekly * Fluid, highly literate, and deeply informed.... Highly recommended for academic philosophy and literature collections. * Library Journal * The pleasure of reading this beautifully written and crafted book is almost sensual, so complete does each sentence seem in its witty unfolding. Blackburn takes up the knottiest philosophical issues * truth, justice, belief, evidence, interpretation * Gently leads the reader on a guided tour of one simple question * whether there is a universally applicable set of data that can be called capital-T 'Truth' * If you're annoyed, even incensed, at the relativism and ironic nihilism of the youth (or their free-thinking professors), and you're looking for a vicarious voice to denounce the abject postmodern menace and stand up for Western rationalism, this could be the book for you. * Barry Allen, The Globe and Mail * 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 *
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About Simon Blackburn

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 Being Good, among other books.
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Rating details

376 ratings
3.64 out of 5 stars
5 18% (67)
4 41% (154)
3 30% (113)
2 10% (36)
1 2% (6)
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