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True to Life: Why Truth Matters (MIT Press) by [Lynch, Michael P.]
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True to Life: Why Truth Matters (MIT Press) Kindle Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Length: 224 pages

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Review

"A bracing antidote to the disease of postmodern cynicism that renders truth impossible and leaves us with nothing but wind-blown opinion. It challenges the reader to be 'true to life' because truth matters." - Douglas Groothius, The Denver Post"

About the Author

Michael P. Lynch is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Connecticut. He is the author of Truth in Context: An Essay on Pluralism and Objectivity (MIT Press, 2001) and the editor of The Nature of Truth: Classic and Contemporary Perspectives (MIT Press, 2001.)

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1572 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: A Bradford Book (5 Aug. 2005)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00352LB2G
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,265,086 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There are plenty of people in the world who would like you not to care too much about the truth. These people - ideologues, tyrants, snake oil salesmen, faith healers, the worst kind of politician - don't have your best interests at heart. Michael Lynch, in virtue of having written this short and highly readable book, does not, it is safe to say, belong to this infamous group. Truth is one of those abstract concepts that is easily understood and used on a daily basis by everyone with a normally functioning adult brain. So why read a book about it? In part, precisely because truth is ordinary and everyday, and it's easy to take it for granted. In part, to reassure ourselves that it is not the social construct some would have us believe. Truth can be extruded almost out of existence by the finest minds, or squeezed into an abstruse corner by sophisticated academics with too much time on their hands. Lynch resists these efforts, and sets out to defend four claims: "that truth is objective; that it is good to believe what is true; that truth is a worthy goal of inquiry; and that truth is worth caring about for its own sake". He salvages truth from those who would shrug their shoulders, for whatever reason.

In Orwell's 1984, "the most terrifying aspect of the Ministry of Truth isn't its ability to get people to believe lies, it is its success at getting them to give up on the idea of truth altogether". Few of us will ever find ourselves in circumstances as desperate as Winston's, thank goodness, but, even for those of us relatively comfortably off in liberal democracies, there are more subtle forces at work, eroding our confidence when it comes to questions of truth.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9daf11c8) out of 5 stars 10 reviews
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e8f9330) out of 5 stars Much needed defense of the importance of truth 25 May 2005
By Charles Fletcher - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
If you've read much of the philosophical literature on truth, there is a strong chance that you have asked whether the discussion is relevant to your life and circumstances. It is very easy to pigeonhole this subject as academic and move on to others that seem more applicable to everyday life.

In a much needed work on the topic, Lynch argues that the concept of truth *is* important in one's personal and political life. The book proceeds by exposing the existing theories that have contributed to the attitude that the concept of truth is either unnecessary or insignificant, and providing specific reasons to tie truth to our desire for leading a full and authentic life.

Though previous reviews have claimed that Lynch's "politics intrude at several points," I would argue that any political color found in the book is merely supplemental, and can be taken or left aside from the central theses. Also, given that the book is intended to bridge the gap between the seemingly academic and the moral and political, some degree of commentary on current political events are a natural element to the book.

The takeaway is that the book is a stimulating read, and I would recommend it to anyone who either is interested in truth as a subject to itself, or is dubious/curious about its relation to everyday life.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9dd3f7f8) out of 5 stars Why Truth Matters 5 Jan. 2005
By Katherine Wylie - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book has all of the qualities that might be attributed to the term "thought-provoking". Common questions regarding the attainability, relativity, and inherent goodness of truth, are addressed. Also includes popular criticisms of truth as a means to and end and truth as fiction- are analyzed rigorously. Easily accessible to everyone from the casual reader to the doctoral candidate. Katherine Wylie
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9edb83e4) out of 5 stars True to Life 18 Aug. 2008
By David D. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Michael Lynch offers a thoughtful account of the import of truth as it applies to our lives individually and collectively. His is not an introduction to theories of truth (Thus, suggestion that he takes for granted the trouble in defining truth is unfair). Rather, it is an exposition on the value of truth as objective in contrast with relativism in general. As individuals, we can value truth and pursue it for its own sake and collectively, we can and should demand truth, particularly in light of tenuous political claims that affect our lives globally. Such demand is inherently predicated on a sense and endorsement of truth as objective, which is precisely Lynch's point, among others.
HASH(0x9db81bf4) out of 5 stars True Dat 14 April 2010
By bronx book nerd - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I recently began delving into philosophy and am reading a number of books on philosophical subjects. I read and reviewed the The Dream Weaver: One Boy's Journey Through the Landscape of Reality (Anniversary Edition) (2nd Edition)and am currently reading Sophie's World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy (FSG Classics)and The Philosopher's Toolkit: A Compendium of Philosophical Concepts and Methods (CourseSmart). I firmly believe that philosophy has a lot to offer to get a better understanding of reality and to form sound beliefs. At the same time this new endeavor is a challenge and yet another reason why I should have paid more attention while in college, particularly since I attended Columbia where the required core curriculum course Contemporary Civilization covered all of the major works in the subject.

True to Life attempts to make the case that not only is truth something good to strive for its own sake but also something necessary for a well-functioning liberal society. For each of his own arguments, Lynch presents possible opposing views as well as his refutations to those views. Overall, I think he makes a convincing case that the pursuit of truth is necessary because it is both instrumentally good and because it is good for its own sake. I will not pretend to be able to restate his case but I will attempt to add a couple of other reasons why the pursuit of truth is good. First, lying can become a habit, one that can become more comfortable with the more it is practiced. This can lead to decline in other virtues and an increase in other vices. For example, the person who gets comfortable with lying about why they are home getting late from work, while perhaps initially for no bad reason, may soon be tempted to engage in some other wrongdoing during the time that now covered by the lie. Second, lying deprives, in a sense, other people of the opportunity to exercise other good character traits. For example, being honest about a harm caused gives the offended person the chance to exercise forgiveness, compassion and understanding. Obviously that would not be the primary purpose of truth-telling, but the reality is that these characteristics are also ones that need introduction and practice for one to become "good" at them, as in to know when to exercise them properly.

That said, as a layperson, I found Lynch's book to be relatively easy to comprehend and appropriately challenging when the details called for it. I highly recommend it for anyone wanting a thorough understanding of the philosophical viewpoints on truth, both those that see it as a worthwhile pursuit, and those that do not.
HASH(0x9db81da4) out of 5 stars Truth to Life 3 April 2009
By Robert Musikantow - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A generally excellent book which gives a powerful argument for the importance of truth. There are a few points of discussion where I would have liked more details. He touches on the idea that truth is different in different domains I was left wanting to more about this. While he critiques pragmatism, it may be true that in certain domains the value of a concept is it's usefulness. Also of course there are areas of life where truth is clearly relative. If I say I like Mexican food, and you say Mexican foods is awful, who is right? Both are really stating the truth about their personal preferences. I would have liked more discussion of when truth is indeed relative, and stating that is my opinion is not just a way to avoid argument as Lynch suggests.
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