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Epistemology: A Contemporary Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge (Routledge Contemporary Introductions to Philosophy) Paperback – 21 Sep 2010
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'Epistemology: A Contemporary Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge, 3rd Edition is an excellent introductory textbook by one of the world’s leading epistemologists. This textbook would be a good choice for use in advanced undergraduate courses or introductory graduate courses on epistemology because it manages to be accessible enough for advanced undergraduates to follow while being challenging enough for graduate students to profit from closely reading it.' – Kevin McCain, University of Rochester, USA
'Without a doubt, Robert Audi’s Epistemology, Third Edition, is the most authoritative, comprehensive, and state of the art textbook in the field. In clear, masterful prose, Audi covers all the main topics in epistemology. No textbook compares. Every student of epistemology – new and old – should read this book.' –
Peter Graham, University of California, Riverside, USA
'An excellent introduction to the field, unusually comprehensive, elegantly structured, and accessible. The reader gets a clear view of all the traditional problems and projects and, in this new edition, a cutting-edge treatment of the latest debates about the nature of intuitions, the significance of rational disagreement, and the value of knowledge and justified true belief.' – Ralph Kennedy, Wake Forest University, USA
'Like the previous editions, this new third edition of Audi’s outstanding book is a well-motivated, comprehensive, accessible introduction for students as well as an original, exciting, cutting-edge work of epistemology in its own right. Novices and experts alike will continually profit―and tremendously so―from studying it. It is an ideal text for undergraduate courses in epistemology, and even graduate-level surveys of the field.' – E.J. Coffman, University of Tennessee, USA
Praise for the second edition:
'Audi’s introduction is at once philosophically insightful and masterfully written – even more so in its new edition. Guaranteed to fascinate the beginner while retaining its exalted status with the experts.' – Claudio de Almeida, PUCRS, Brazil
'My students like this book and have learned much from it, as I have…Epistemology – especially in its second edition – is simply the best textbook in epistemology that I know of.' – Thomas Vinci, Dalhousie University, Canada
Praise for the first edition:
'No less than one would expect from a first-rate epistemologist who is also a master expositor: lucid, comprehensive, well-structured, and excellently informed both by the tradition and by recent developments. A superb introduction.' – Ernest Sosa, Brown University, USA
'This is a massively impressive book, introducing the reader to virtually all the main areas of epistemology. Robert Audi's text is lucid and highly readable, while not shirking the considerable complexities of his subject matter.' – Elizabeth .M. Fricker, University of Oxford, UK
'A state-of-the-art introduction to epistemology by one of the leading figures in the field.' – William P. Alston, Syracuse University, USA
About the Author
Robert Audi is John A. O’Brien Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame and author of many papers and books on knowledge and belief, justification, and rationality.
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Top Customer Reviews
To be fair, I cannot comment on the chapters beyond the first few ones on perception and memory; but that is because I gave up the book in disgust at that point.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Professor Audi here presents theories of knowledge organized by sources and structure, rather that historically by the philosophers who espoused them. No matter that Hume said this or Descartes that: the focus is on major concepts and ideas. Since my interest was in ideas themselves rather than the history of their development, I found this approach congenial.
Although Professor Audi writes with admirable clarity, I cannot pretend that I understood the work in its entirety, a reflection of my own limitations, surely not his. And yet I think I profited from the struggle. I appreciate now as never before the inextricability of philosophy and human mental and sensory process, the ambiguities of knowing and the relationship between knowing and justified belief, the elusiveness of certainty, the seductiveness of experience, and the complex character of scientific and moral (and religious) beliefs.
Within an academic setting, I suspect this would be an excellent basic text. If, like me, you are not a specialist and are interested in the subject of epistemology outside a formal academic setting, I would recommend this book only if you are tenacious, highly motivated, and willing to read and re-read slowly. It is not for the impatient reader looking for instant enlightenment.
In sum, this is a book whose rewards can be great for the determined reader.
The text is helpfully divided into three major subtopics.
In the first, "Sources of knowledge, justification, and truth," Audi devotes a chapter each to perception, memory, consciousness, reason, and testimony.
In the second, "The structure and growth of justification and knowledge," Audi dedicates one chapter to the nature of inference and one to the problem of foundationalism vs. coherentism.
And in the third, "The nature and scope of justification and knowledge," Audi overviews the nature of knowledge (e.g. justified true belief, or the "right kind" of justified true belief?); the specific nature of scientific, moral, and religious knowledge; and skepticism (including various possible responses thereto).
The text is clear and intelligible throughout and makes a thorough introduction to the subject well suited either for classroom use or for the intelligent lay reader flying solo. And the "short annotated bibliography" is a well-chosen source of suggestions for further reading.
Readers unfamiliar with the field may also want to pick up _ A Companion to Epistemology_ (edited by Jonathan Dancy and Ernest Sosa), a fine collection of 250 alphabetical entries by various respected philosophers. And the _Oxford Companion to Philosophy_ (edited by Ted Honderich) is an excellent general reference which no student of philosophy should be without.
(The Routledge Contemporary Introductions to Philosophy series seems to be very good in general, by the way; Michael Loux's _Metaphysics_ is also highly recommended.)
Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone with some exposure to philosophy and an interest in the theory of knowledge.
Simplified, part one covers theories of perception, possible sources of knowledge, and reason. Part two covers inference and theories of the architecture of knowledge, such as foundationalism and coherentism. Part three finally analyzes what knowledge is, the internalism/externalism debate, important types of knowledge (scientific, moral, and religious), and skepticism.
Good #1: The book is structured very well. It begins with sources of knowledge, going from there to how knowledge from these sources can be extended by inference and how this knowledge is structured. Next, it analyzes what exactly makes beliefs knowledge by exploring the contemporary debate on justification and how we can have certain other types of knowledge (scientific, moral, and religious). Finally, the book ends by providing and overview and response to epistemological skepticism.
Good #2: Audi uses thought experiments that makes the material easier to understand.
Good #3: The book can serve as a great reference work after it has been read. He provides definitions and basic principles in epistemology that one can go back to over and over again.
Good #4: Audi sums up views he opposes charitably while still managing to disagree with them in a way that you know you're getting an intro to contemporary epistemology instead of an intro to Audi's epistemology.
Bad #1: Although much of the book is accessible, Audi's sentences can sometimes be long and tiring. Someone without much background in epistemology may very well get lost among some of the long sentences with multiple commas. This is my only complaint.
In short, this book is a great intro to a sometimes daunting subject.
Audi, a professor of philosophy at Notre Dame, is a leading figure in this field who I discovered in Reasoned Faith: Essays in Philosophical Theology in Honor of Norman Kretzmann. In this book, Epistemology, he has carefully crafted a comprehensive introduction that is well-researched, well-organized, and presented in a way that is both informative and engaging. Rather than simply discuss topics such as perception and skepticism, he puts readers in the thick of it by posing questions, providing clear illustrations, and suggesting real-life scenarios that inspire further contemplation.
Epistemology is arranged in a way that flows freely from one idea to the next and does fall victim to running off course, as similar books tend to do. Audi remains focused on "the body of concepts, theories, and problems central in understanding knowledge and justification".
If you've ever wondered why we believe what we believe, this is the book for you.