Scepticism and the Possibility of Knowledge

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9781441154361: Scepticism and the Possibility of Knowledge
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Scepticism as a philosophical term is as old as the Greeks but has more recently been advanced by Montaigne, Descartes and Hume. To these, what little we know that seems certain is based on observation and habit as opposed to any logical or scientific necessity. Thus, sceptical views relate directly to epistemology-the theory of knowledge and what we can know-and, in the modern turbulent world, it is grayling's contention that these are issues that all contemporary people need to focus on. In seeking understanding of the human condition we need more than just a set of beliefs about it: all belief is irrational. We want to know or garner some kind of proof about the fundamental truths of human existence. This is the crux of the dilemma facing intelligent people today and is illuminated by this book.

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About the Author:

A. C. Grayling is Master of the New College of the Humanities, UK. He has written and edited numerous works of philosophy and is the author of biographies of Descartes and William Hazlitt. He believes that philosophy should take an active, useful role in society. He has been a regular contributor to The Times, Financial Times, Observer, Independent on Sunday, Economist, Literary Review, New Statesman and Prospect, and is a frequent and popular contributor to radio and television programmes, including Newsnight, Today, In Our Time, Start the Week and CNN news. He is a Fellow of the World Economic Forum at Davos, and advises on many committees ranging from Drug Testing at Work to human rights groups.

Review:

"Grayling (philosophy, Birkbeck Coll., Univ. of London) sets himself the goal of refuting—or at least of attempting to refute—the philosophical doctrine that absolute knowledge is impossible. To do so, he considers two sets of arguments from major antiskeptical philosophers—Berkeley and Russell in one tradition and Quine and Wittgenstein in another—and argues that the strategies the aforementioned philosophers used to accomplish their goals are "not so much incorrect as incomplete." He thereupon argues in extensive, closely reasoned, if often turgid detail, his own stratagem—which, he believes, "is the right one overall." Because of the fecundity of the argument, readers will have a difficult time deciding if he has succeeded. This is not a book for beginners in philosophy: it deals with an issue most philosophers consider the central one in philosophy and requires extensive familiarity with the discipline, both current and historical. Recommended for academic collections."—Leon H. Brody, Falls Church, VA Library Journal

(Leon H. Brody)

'Grayling's talents as a writer and a philosopher are immense.' Financial Times, May 2008

"Grayling (philosophy, Birkbeck Coll., Univ. of London) sets himself the goal of refuting—or at least of attempting to refute—the philosophical doctrine that absolute knowledge is impossible. To do so, he considers two sets of arguments from major antiskeptical philosophers—Berkeley and Russell in one tradition and Quine and Wittgenstein in another—and argues that the strategies the aforementioned philosophers used to accomplish their goals are "not so much incorrect as incomplete." He thereupon argues in extensive, closely reasoned, if often turgid detail, his own stratagem—which, he believes, "is the right one overall." Because of the fecundity of the argument, readers will have a difficult time deciding if he has succeeded. This is not a book for beginners in philosophy: it deals with an issue most philosophers consider the central one in philosophy and requires extensive familiarity with the discipline, both current and historical. Recommended for academic collections."—Leon H. Brody, Falls Church, VA Library Journal

(Sanford Lakoff)

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9781847061737: Scepticism and the Possibility of Knowledge

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