Walking the Tightrope of Reason

Walking the Tightrope of Reason : The Precarious Life of a Rational Animal

3.96 (30 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

List price: US$22.00

Currently unavailable

Add to wishlist

AbeBooks may have this title (opens in new window).

Try AbeBooks

Description

Human beings are both supremely rational and deeply superstitious, capable of believing just about anything and of questioning just about everything. Indeed, just as our reason demands that we know the truth, our skepticism leads to doubts we can ever really do so. In Walking the Tightrope of Reason, Robert J. Fogelin guides readers through a contradiction that lies at the very heart of philosophical inquiry. Fogelin argues that our rational faculties insist on a purely rational account of the universe, yet at the same time, the inherent limitations of these faculties ensure that we will never fully satisfy that demand. As a result of being driven to this point of paradox, we either comfort ourselves with what Kant called "metaphysical illusions" or adopt a stance of radical skepticism. No middle ground seems possible and, as Fogelin shows, skepticism, even though a healthy dose of it is essential for living a rational life, "has an inherent tendency to become unlimited in its scope, with the result that the edifice of rationality is destroyed."In much Postmodernist thought, for example, skepticism takes the extreme form of absolute relativism, denying the basis for any value distinctions and treating all truth-claims as equally groundless. How reason avoids disgracing itself, walking a fine line between dogmatic belief and self-defeating doubt, is the question Fogelin seeks to answer. Reflecting upon the ancient Greek skeptics as well as such thinkers as Hume, Kant, Wittgenstein, Nietzsche, and Whitman, this book takes readers into-and through-some of philosophy's most troubling paradoxes.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 218 pages
  • 133.1 x 189 x 22.9mm | 331.13g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 2line drawings
  • 0195160266
  • 9780195160260

Review quote

... splendid new book ... lucidly expounding for a general audience an argument set out in greater detail in an earlier, more technical work. The Philosophers' Magazineshow more

About Robert J. Fogelin

Robert J. Fogelin is Professor of Philosophy and Sherman Fairchild Professor in the Humanities at Dartmouth College. His many books include Pyrrhonian Reflections, Wittgenstein and Hume's Skepticism.show more

Rating details

30 ratings
3.96 out of 5 stars
5 33% (10)
4 37% (11)
3 23% (7)
2 7% (2)
1 0% (0)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X