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Beyond Objectivism and Relativism: Science, Hermeneutics, and Praxis Paperback – 1 Nov 1983


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Product details

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press (1 Nov. 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812211650
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812211658
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 763,305 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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"A fascinating and timely treatment of the objectivism versus relativism debates occurring in philosophy of science, literary theory, the social sciences, political science, and elsewhere."-Choice "A superb book. It combines two strong qualities rarely seen together: it makes an insightful and extremely valuable contribution to the philosophical issues on a central matter [and] is at the cutting edge of the subject."-Charles Taylor

About the Author

Richard J. Bernstein is Vera List Professor, Graduate Faculty, at the New School for Social Research and Chair of the Department of Philosophy. He is the author of numerous books, including these also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press: The Restructuring of Social and Political Theory and Praxis and Action: Contemporary Philosophies of Human Activity.

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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 21 Jan. 1999
Format: Paperback
Are we the measure of the all things or is truth independent of our beliefs and wishes? Bernstein begins tackling this question by observing that the real debate is not between absolutism and relativism but between...(well, read the title!) He claims that while few (philosophers anyway) believe that truth is eternal, many at least believe that it is not merely about our own subjectivity. But the real question for Bernstein is Why all the fuss? Is there a certain tone of anxiety present in the discussion? Bernstein says that indeed there is and it's due to conflicts in concern between the need to believe in a stable reality and the fear that rheified cultural schemes can become the basis of intellectual and social tyrany- Bernstein calls this a "pracical-moral concern" and manages to discuss it without presuming that there are no serious theoretical issues involved. I'm an absolutist myself (what a philosophical dinosaur I am!) and I found this book so enthralling that I engaged in frquent, feverish marginal annotating (and in my schools, you didn't buy the texts so you DID NOT mark them up). Whatever your philosophical persuasion, this book should bring some illumination along with many happy moments of reading. At this price, it's a bargain. GET IT!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bernstein's book is not for the faint of heart.

Beginning with a formidable diagnosis of the current state of modern philosophy, it continues with complex and innovative critical engagements with the work of Hannah Arendt, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Richard Rorty, and others.

Recommended to those with interests in pragmatism, continental philosophy, and analytic philosophy, but with an intermediate (at least) understanding of all of the thinkers mentioned above.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 13 reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Probing 30 Dec. 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Equipped with a synoptic point of view, Bernstein has long worked the difficult terrain between continental philosophy and its more positivist Anglo-American counterpart. Here he traces what he believes is a key movement away from the broad modern tradition characterized by Descartes and the perennial search for philosophical foundations. Not always self-consciously, this emerging movement (Gadamer, Rorty, et. al.) rejects the Cartesian search for absolutes as ultimately futile; yet refuses to accept relativism as the only remaining recourse. The book's burden is to show how a viable `third way' is in fact emerging from the overlaps in the movement. His discussion is stimulating, ranging from Aristotle to Kuhn to Habermas, Kant and Arendt. No doubt he has put his finger on an acutely felt issue of our skeptical age, one that lurks ubiquitously in the background of more narrowly framed topics. Yet, how effectively this third way manages to extricate itself from the either-or of objectivism vs. relativism is up to the individual reader to judge. Frankly, I was disappointed, feeling that the results were unduly vague and pointing in the direction of a sophisticated brand of sociological relativism. Be that as it may, the text includes not a single mention of post-modernism, which may date the work in the eyes of some. Still, the meta-philosophical issue Bernstein addresses can be discussed quite apart from those specific to post-moderns and their recourse to outright relativism. As always, Bernstein remains an important interpreter of international trends and is well worth the read.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Toward a Deeper Understanding of Understanding 24 Jun. 2002
By Robert William DeMarco - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Richard Bernstein is one of the most balanced and deeply thoughtful Americans doing philosophy today. Thoroughly at home in several different schools of contemporary thought, he writes with exceptional clarity and generosity of spirit. This book is one of his most important. At a time when most Americans seem convinced that objectivism and relativism are our only options and that if objectivism is ultimately incoherent nothing remains but a relativism that ultimately makes conversation impossible, this book can be a life-saver! Respectful of what the physical and life sciences can do and contribute, Bernstein makes clear the limits of their methods and the reasonableness of turning to alternative ways of knowing and thinking for other realms of meaning, value, and reality. A careful reading of this book could save everybody years of wandering up and down blind alleys. This is philosophy written to communicate with others and to be helpful, rather than to inflate the author's ego and display sophistication. It can change the way you inhabit the world and put your feet on a path that takes you in the direction of hope and solidarity.
35 of 41 people found the following review helpful
Required reading for contemporary philosophy! 21 Jan. 1999
By Trash Gordon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Are we the measure of the all things or is truth independent of our beliefs and wishes? Bernstein begins tackling this question by observing that the real debate is not between absolutism and relativism but between...(well, read the title!) He claims that while few (philosophers anyway) believe that truth is eternal, many at least believe that it is not merely about our own subjectivity. But the real question for Bernstein is Why all the fuss? Is there a certain tone of anxiety present in the discussion? Bernstein says that indeed there is and it's due to conflicts in concern between the need to believe in a stable reality and the fear that rheified cultural schemes can become the basis of intellectual and social tyrany- Bernstein calls this a "pracical-moral concern" and manages to discuss it without presuming that there are no serious theoretical issues involved. I'm an absolutist myself (what a philosophical dinosaur I am!) and I found this book so enthralling that I engaged in frquent, feverish marginal annotating (and in my schools, you didn't buy the texts so you DID NOT mark them up). Whatever your philosophical persuasion, this book should bring some illumination along with many happy moments of reading. At this price, it's a bargain. GET IT!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A Clear, Comprehensive Guide to Contemporary Philosophy 22 Nov. 2013
By Michael J. Quirk - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Richard J. Bernstein, along with Charles Taylor, Alasdair MacIntyre, and the late Richard Rorty, is one of the few comtemporary philosophers with a knack for taking the complicated ideas and dense prose characteristic of the discipline, and translating into a clear narrative that the "general reader" can understand and appreciate. BEYOND OBJECTIVISM AND RELATIVISM is his effort to explain how strands of both analytic and continental philosophy come together in a rejection of a dichotomy that has prevailed in Western thought since at least the time of Descartes. The dichotomy, which Bernstein labels "the Cartesian Anxiety", centers around a grand "either/or": either there are timeless, necessary constraints on our thinking that can be discovered by philosophy (objectivism), or everything is relative to arbitrary conceptual schemes, customs, or regimes of power (relativism). Bernstein, in my view, brilliantly shows why this "either/or" is optional, and explores the ways in which philosophers as diverse as Thomas Kuhn, Richard Rorty, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Jurgen Habermas, and Hannah Arendt re-frame the practice of philosophy to evade it. BEYOND OBJECTIVISM AND RELATIVISM is essential reading for anyone wishing an entree into contemporary philosophy which does not fall into the "analytic v. continental" polemic, and should be read alongside his equally engaging THE PRAGMATIC TURN. Together, these books provide a welcome and lucid roadmap to contemporary philosophy.
But great for understand the modern approach for hermeneutics 29 Dec. 2014
By Bruno Teles Nunes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hard reading!! But great for understand the modern approach for hermeneutics.
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