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

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Oxford University Press, 2003年7月17日 - 224 頁
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.

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內容

Why Obey the Laws of Logic?
17
Dilemmas and Paradoxes
41
Pure Reason and Its Illusions
69
Skepticism
95
Modest Responses to These Challenges
127
Matters of Taste
145
Last Words
163
NOTES
171
BIBLIOGRAPHY
189
INDEX
195
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第 15 頁 - I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot : I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.
第 129 頁 - I dine, I play a game of backgammon, I converse, and am merry with my friends; and when after three or four hours...
第 16 頁 - A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do.
第 68 頁 - Human reason has this peculiar fate that in one species of its knowledge it is burdened by questions which, as prescribed by the very nature of reason itself, it is not able to ignore, but which, as transcending all its powers, it is also not able to answer.
第 164 頁 - The intense view of these manifold contradictions and imperfections in human reason has so wrought upon me, and heated my brain, that I am ready to reject all belief and reasoning, and can look upon no opinion even as more probable or likely than another.
第 168 頁 - The imagination of man is naturally sublime, delighted with whatever is remote and extraordinary, and running without control into the most distant parts of space and time, in order to avoid the objects which custom has rendered too familiar to it.
第 43 頁 - For a large class of cases — though not for all — in which we employ the word "meaning" it can be defined thus: the meaning of a word is its use in the language.
第 157 頁 - In each creature there is a sound and a defective state, and the former alone can be supposed to afford us a true standard of taste and sentiment. If, in the sound state of the organ, there be an entire or a considerable uniformity of sentiment among men, we may thence derive an idea of the perfect beauty...

關於作者 (2003)

Robert 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.

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