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The Possibility of Knowledge Paperback – 25 April 2009

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Review

The virtues of this book are many. First and foremost, the possibility of knowledge is a topic which, though addressed by various authors and in various places, has not previously recieved the sort of sustained attention it gets here... a delightful book that is well worth reading. I recommend it especially to those who have thought about how to address how-possible questions in epistemology, and to those who wonder how Kant might be connected to the contemporary literature in epistemology. I can think of few better people with whom to explore these issues than Cassam himself. (Sanford Goldberg, Mind)

Synopsis

How is knowledge of the external world possible? How is knowledge of other minds possible? How is a priori knowledge possible? These are all examples of how-possible questions in epistemology. Quassim Cassam explains how such questions arise and how they should be answered. In general, we ask how knowledge, or knowledge of some specific kind, is possible when we encounter obstacles to its existence or acquisition. So the question is: how is knowledge possible given the various factors that make it look impossible? A satisfactory answer to such a question will therefore need to do several different things. In essence, explaining how a particular kind of knowledge is possible is a matter of identifying ways of acquiring it, overcoming or dissipating obstacles to its acquisition, and figuring out what makes it possible to acquire it. To respond to a how-possible question in this way is to go in for what might be called a 'multi-levels' approach. The aim of this book is to develop and defend this approach. The first two chapters bring out its advantages and explain why it works better than more familiar 'transcendental' approaches to explaining how knowledge is possible.The remaining chapters use the multi-levels framework to explain how perceptual knowledge is possible, how it is possible to know of the existence of minds other than one's own and how a priori knowledge is possible.

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Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 25 September 2016