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|Print List Price:||£8.99|
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Philosophy: The Latest Answers to the Oldest Questions Kindle Edition
|Length: 260 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled|
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Top Customer Reviews
Given the potentially hazardous mix of considered thought and off-hand expression, this book comes off admirably. After some introductory material on how earlier thinkers viewed the "self", Fearn tries to show how views have changed - and why. He has no qualms about "hard questions", since he opens with the debate over how the human mind and computers can be compared. Jerry Fodor's "computational theory of mind" is given a good airing, but, as usual, the model is a bit overdrawn. Equating the mind too closely with a machine has led to questions ranging from brain "transplants" to the plausibility of "Star Trek's" transporter. Fearn, in his contact with Daniel Dennett, might have been set straight on this point, but he seems to have failed to ask the proper questions.
Fearn fares better in the second section, "What do I know?" The inevitable opening, "Is life merely an illusion" doesn't keep him long.Read more ›
Nonetheless, as the endorsements by Raymond Tallis and Hilary Putnam would imply, the subject is treated seriously. Fearn divides his book into three sections: 'Who Am I?', 'What Do I Know?' and 'What Should I Do?' Each of the thirteen chapters under these broad headings then tackles a single topic - 'The problem of the self', 'Innate ideas', 'Moral luck' and so on - and draws on the work of one or more current practitioners to show how things stand at present.
Fearn doesn't have much time for continental philosophy; the bare half-chapter devoted to postmodernism is dismissive. Nor does he care much for Peter Singer's utilitarianism and the fashionable animal rights agenda to which it gave birth. The focus is squarely on the Anglo-American tradition. However, Fearn avoids off-putting technical discussions of minutiae. His concern is to show how contemporary philosophers in this tradition still attempt to offer substantive answers to large, serious questions of the kind associated with the idea of 'doing philosophy' in the past.Read more ›
In the first part Fearn tackles the problem of the self, free will, artificial intelligence, and the dualism of body and soul. The modern consensus, as I understand it, is that the self (as the Buddha taught) is a delusion in flux that the evolutionary mechanism has found useful for instilling in creatures such as ourselves; that free will is an illusion we can't help but believe; that artificial intelligence will surpass human intelligence (but that may take longer than previously thought); and that the soul is pure information. For the most part Fearn's presentation of views and his comments are more or less in line with my understanding.
"Does the idea never thought exist?" would be my variant on Bishop Berkeley's old query about the tree in the forest. My answer goes to the heart of the next part of Fearn's book which concerns what we know, how we know it, and how much confidence in that knowledge we can have. I lie awake nights wondering where the idea never thought is. It's not on the ether wind and not in God's mind. WHERE is it? I refuse to believe that it doesn't exist.
Or is all of human knowledge merely a gigantic social construction (as the postmodernists would have it) forever distant from true knowledge? Clearly Fearn is not a postmodernist since he mostly diminishes this idea.Read more ›