The Measure of Things: Humanism, Humility, and Mystery

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9780198238270: The Measure of Things: Humanism, Humility, and Mystery

David Cooper explores and defends the view that a reality independent of human perspectives is necessarily indescribable, a "mystery." Other views are shown to be hubristic. Humanists, for whom "man is the measure" of reality, exaggerate our capacity to live without the sense of an independent measure. Absolutists, who proclaim our capacity to know an independent reality, exaggerate our cognitive powers. In this highly original book Cooper restores to philosophy a proper appreciation of mystery-that is what provides a measure of our beliefs and conduct.

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About the Author:

David E. Cooper is at the Department of Philiosophy, University of Durham.

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"remarkable . . . an unusual and courageous book. Most striking, perhaps, is the originality and ambition of its overall conception, persuasively linking up a range of important questions not standardly seen as germane to each other . . . The overall position presented in this book is skilfully woven from these different strands of inquiry and the sheer range of philosophical learning exhibited in the course of it is genuinely impressive. In his generous, searching, and imaginative interpretations and reconstructions of a wide array of heterogeneous but, he argues, often converging sources, Cooper succeeds in presenting and exemplifying an attractive and humane vision of things. It is not the least of the significant merits of his book that it reminds us in the process that the quality of a philosophy lies as much in the questions it has the courage to ask as in the answers it ventures."--Mind


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Book Description Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, 2002. Hardback. Book Condition: New. New.. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. Philosophers, both western and eastern, have long been divided between humanists , for whom man is the measure of things , and their opponents, who claim that there is a way, in principle knowable and describable, that the world anyway is, independent of human perspectives and interests. The early chapters of The Measure of Things chart the development of humanism from medieval times, through the Renaissance, Enlightenment and Romantic periods, to its most sophisticated, twentieth-century form, existential humanism . Cooper does not identify this final position with that of any particular philosopher, though it is closely related to those of Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty and the later Wittgenstein. Among the earlier figures discussed are William of Ockham, Kant, Herder, Nietzsche and William James. Having rejected attempts by contemporary advocates of modest or non-metaphysical realism to dissolve the opposition between humanism and its absolutist rival, Cooper moves on to an adjudication of that rivality. Prompted by the pervasive rhetoric of hubris that the rivals direct against one another, he argues, in an original manner, that the rival positions are indeed guilty of lack of humility. Absolutists - whether defenders of The Given or scientific realists - exaggerate our capacity to ascend out of our engaged perspectives to an objective account of the world. Humanists, conversely, exaggerate our capacity to live without a sense of our subjection to a measure independent of our own perspectives. The only escape, Cooper maintains, from the impasse reached when humanism and absolutism are both rejected, lies in a doctrine of mystery. There is a reality independent of the human contribution , but it is necessarily ineffable. Drawing in a novel way upon the Buddhist conception of emptiness and Heidegger s later writings, the final chapters defend the notion of mystery, distinguish the doctrine advanced from that of transcendental idealism, and propose that it is only through appreciation of mystery that measure and warrant may be provided for our beliefs and conduct. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780198238270

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