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Truth (Oxford Readings in Philosophy) Hardcover – 9 Sep 1999


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 412 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (9 Sept. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198752512
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198752516
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 3 x 20.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,954,270 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

"Blackburn's lively new book 'Truth: A Guide' will challenge and surprise you.... The great achievement of 'Truth' is to encapsulate the major lines of argument on this intractable question within the covers of a book you can read in a day or two. His chapter on Nietzsche, the fountainhead of modern philosophy and the patron saint of relativism, is worth the price of admission by itself."--Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com"Admirably sketching the battle lines currently staked out over the idea of objective truth, [Blackburn] makes his subject lively and accessible even as he parts some of its deepest waters.... Blackburn considers truth 'the most exciting and engaging issue in the whole of philosophy, ' and, with wit and erudition, he succeeds in proving that point."--Publishers Weekly"Fluid, highly literate, and deeply informed.... Highly recommended for academic philosophy and literature collections. --Library Journal"Gently leads the reader on a guided tour of one s --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Simon Blackburn is Edna S. Koury Distinguished Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His publications include Spreading the Word (OUP, 1984), The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy (OUP, 1994), and Ruling Passions (OUP, 1998). Keith Simmons is Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is author of Universality and the Liar: An Essay on Truth and the Diagonal Argument (CUP, 1993).

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First Sentence
In the Introduction I mentioned that for classical sceptics, a dearth of arguments, or a clash of countervailing arguments, led to peaceful suspension of belief, whereas in our own times it is seen more as a licence for people to believe what they like. Read the first page
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Sphex on 31 Mar. 2009
Format: Paperback
Alone it stands, assailed on all sides by priests and postmodernists and prophets and pseudoscientists and practitioners of public relations, how are we ever going to approach a word like "truth" in its solitary majesty? With a philosopher like Simon Blackburn at your side, and with this brilliant book in your hand. The difference between him and them is the degree of commitment to reason, the degree to which obfuscation is avoided and the temptation to hide behind jargon is resisted. Blackburn could easily dazzle most of us with technical arguments, but he wants to clarify, not mystify, and he succeeds. This book is about a "war of ideas and attitudes... not only between different people, but grumbling within the breast of each individual": today, are we a believer, a sceptic, a cynic, a rationalist, an absolutist, a relativist? And tomorrow? Many of us will sensibly shrug off such labels, but we should not and we do not shrug off questions about truth: it matters if "politicians claim that some country has weapons of mass destruction when they know that it does not, or if NASA says that a shuttle is safe" when it is not.

Chapter 1 - "Faith, Belief and Reason" - draws in three more similarly abused and important terms. While this might seem to be multiplying our difficulties before we have begun, these are all connected and their meanings interdependent. People either give reasons for or have faith in the truth of any particular belief. That sounds simple, inclusive and nicely symmetrical, and surely covers all bases. The harmony is an illusion. The absolutist, often of a religious temperament, cannot resist the allure of dogma, while relativism "chips away at our right to disapprove of what anybody says." Both sides bicker over questions of authority.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Melmoth on 31 Mar. 2010
Format: Paperback
An engagingly-written guide to the battle between realists and relativists that has raged since the time of the Ancient Greeks. Blackburn's mission is to remove the "sneer quotes" placed around "truth" by relativists and pragmatists, whilst admitting the flaws in the realist position. The quest for truth, he believes, is a worthwhile one: even if we cannot prove that our truth corresponds to the world out there, we can say that the quest for it gives us answers that work.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A. J. Davies on 4 Nov. 2009
Format: Paperback
Lucid, thought provoking treatise. A good start for those seeking truth, rather than those who have their 'truths' provided for them by some form of superstition.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John R Holmes on 17 Dec. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Takes you through the ancient and modern philosophical attempts to nail down truth, discusses the merits and flaws as you move through the centuries and suggests the most reasonable positions. If you thought truth was obvious - it's time to think again!
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13 of 35 people found the following review helpful By trini on 26 Feb. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Simon Blackburn's 'Truth'.
Who are the intended readers? The general public, or philosophical specialists? In his preface, Blackburn only says: "[This book] is therefore something of a guide for the perplexed (p. ix)." But where are the perplexed guided to? Does the book merely show that the perplexed are right to be perplexed, and clarify the ways in which they are justifiably perplexed, or are they guided out of their perplexity into a region of philosophical clarity? None of this emerges clearly.

What is the main thrust of the book? In his Introduction (p. xx) Blackburn signals the contrast between the absolutists and the relativists, and says that this issue is `arguably the most exciting and engaging issue in the whole of philosophy". In his concluding remarks, Blackburn hopes that `Peace Breaks Out' between the absolutists and the relativists - let us tolerate our irreconcilable differences.

In between, what emerges constantly is that the anti-realists, the anti-moralists, the sceptics, the relativists, cannot live by their beliefs. Life is impossible unless the sceptic/relativist says, "Well, I don't think there is a table and a glass, or that the glass is on the table, but I will have to act as if these things are really so; and I don't believe in morality, in right and wrong, but I must live (and hope that everyone else lives) as if there is morality, and as if life is governed by ideas of right and wrong."

My own hope is greater. When the University of Chicago in the 1950s published a series of 54 books called the Great Books of the Western World, one commentator said that "Chicago quickly gained a reputation as an `eccentric' place, `where they talked about Plato and Aristotle and [St Thomas] Aquinas day and night' ".
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