Manifesto of a Passionate Moderate: Unfashionable Essays

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9780226311371: Manifesto of a Passionate Moderate: Unfashionable Essays

Forthright and wryly humorous, philosopher Susan Haack deploys her penetrating analytic skills on some of the most highly charged cultural and social debates of recent years. Relativism, multiculturalism, feminism, affirmative action, pragmatisms old and new, science, literature, the future of the academy and of philosophy itself—all come under her keen scrutiny in Manifesto of a Passionate Moderate.

"The virtue of Haack's book, and I mean virtue in the ethical sense, is that it embodies the attitude that it exalts. . . Haack's voice is urbane, sensible, passionate—the voice of philosophy that matters. How good to hear it again."—Jonathan Rauch, Reason

"A tough mind, confident of its power, making an art of logic . . . a cool mastery."—Paul R. Gross, Wilson Quarterly

"Few people are better able to defend the notion of truth, and in strong, clear prose, than Susan Haack . . . a philosopher of great distinction."—Hugh Lloyd-Jones, National Review

"If you relish acute observation and straight talk, this is a book to read."—Key Reporter (Phi Beta Kappa)

"Everywhere in this book there is the refreshing breeze of common sense, patiently but inexorably blowing."—Roger Kimball, Times Literary Supplement

"A refreshing alternative to the extremism that characterizes so much rhetoric today."—Kirkus Reviews

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Review:

In defending the idea of honest inquiry, Susan Haack takes on the usual suspects: cognitive relativists, radical feminists, multiculturalists, self-styled neopragmatists such as Richard Rorty, sociologists of science, literary theorists--"a great revolutionary chorus announcing that disinterested inquiry is impossible, that all supposed 'knowledge' is an expression of power, that the concepts of evidence, objectivity, truth are ideological humbug." Although some readers will inevitably be reminded of works such as Paul R. Gross and Norman Levitt's Higher Superstition, Haack's Manifesto stands out because of its distinctively philosophical orientation. The chief villains--Richard Rorty, Sandra Harding--are philosophers, as is the tutelary deity of Haack's enterprise, C.S. Peirce. Particularly worthwhile is "'We Pragmatists...': Peirce and Rorty in Conversation." Constructed from passages from the two philosophers and the occasional intervention by Haack herself, this dramatic dialogue painlessly illuminates not only the surface similarities of Peirce's pragmatism and Rorty's neopragmatism but also their profound disagreements. Also included are interesting but somewhat tangential essays on metaphor's role in science, affirmative action, and the future of the academy.

Although Haack is known in philosophical circles for her work in the forbiddingly technical areas of epistemology and the philosophy of logic, the 11 essays contained in her Manifesto are forthright, clear, and laced with pleasingly wry humor. (It is not every professor who would give an essay the title "Confessions of an Old-Fashioned Prig.") Regrettably, she shares the fondness of her philosophical hero Peirce for ugly neologisms: "preposterism" and "foundherentism" are two of hers. --Glenn Branch

About the Author:

Susan Haack is professor of philosophy and visiting professor of law at the University of Miami.

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