Knowing and Value: Toward a Constructive Postmodern Epistemology

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SUNY Press, 1998 - Philosophy - 393 pages
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Modern thought, finally free from premodern excesses of belief, immediately fell prey to excesses of doubt. This book points toward a postmodern approach to knowing that moves beyond the tired choice between dogma and skepticism. Its key deconstructive aim is to help contemporary philosophers see that their paralyzing modern “epistemological gap” is a myth. Its positive outcome, however, reverses the identification of “postmodern” with deconstruction rather than construction, with the “end of philosophy” rather than renewal in philosophy.

Knowing and Value begins by tracing how we got here, and argues that much of our modern dilemma rests on choices that might have gone otherwise. Key value judgments underlying Plato’s and Aristotle’s epistemological norms, which still tend to govern our theories of knowledge, are clarified. Next the value-laden sources of premodern attitudes toward knowing are exposed by showing how the Christian synthesis of faith and reason was at first built by medieval Platonists and Aristotelians, then razed by premodern nominalists. This diagnostic account concludes with a close look at how modernity, from Hobbes and Descartes to Kant, designed its own epistemological trap by rejecting some premodern values, while accepting others.

The book also examines the principal ways moderns (positivists, idealists, existentialists, and pragmatists) have tried to cope with the supposed epistemological gap—each without success, but with every failure leaving resources for rebuilding.

In a constructive climax, the book shows how an ecological worldview, emphasizing real relations (the view proposed in its predecessor volume, Being and Value) can heal the needless ruptures on which modern epistemic maladies depend. A reformed account of human experience confronts modern skepticism head-on; a fresh “process” approach to language and thinking is proposed; and finally, a postmodern, pluralist view of theories and truth is offered under a guiding aesthetic metaphor: “Knowing is the music of thought.”
 

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Contents

Why Do Epistemology?
1
Knowing And The Requirements Of Theory
2
Knowing And The Variety Of Life
4
Knowing And Basic Contrasts
9
Knowing And Being
13
Knowing And Valuing
16
Discovering the Epistemological Gap
21
Ancient Knowers
23
Brand Blanshard
214
Problems With Coherentism
220
Leaping The Gap
233
Soren Kierkegaard
235
Reflecting On Kierkegaard
243
C S Peirce And William James
248
Problems With The Leap
258
Deconstructing the Epistemological Gap
265

Plato And His Predecessors
24
Aristotle And His Successors
40
Medieval Believers
55
Augustine
56
Between Augustine And Aquinas
65
Thomas Aquinas
77
Scotus And Ockham
83
Modern Doubters
93
Hobbes And Descartes
94
Locke And Berkeley
120
Hume And Kant
144
Coping with the Epistemological Gap
163
Reducing The Gap
165
Fichte And Hegel
168
Comte And Mill
170
Mach And Ayer
174
Problems With Reduction
187
Webbing The Gap
203
The Coherentist Pedigree
204
F H Bradley
207
Experiencing The World
267
The Postmodern Turn
268
Physical Continuities In Experience
276
Conceptual Continuities In Experience
284
Spectra And Bipolarities
291
Some Benefits
295
Thinking The World
305
The Phases Of Concrescence
307
The Path To Conceptual Thinking
314
Defining The True
334
Knowing The World
341
Practical Knowing
344
Observational Knowing
347
Theoretical Knowing
355
The Knowing Of Beauty And The Beauty Of Knowing
366
Works Cited
375
Note on Supporting Center
381
Names Index
383
Copyright

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About the author (1998)

Frederick Ferre is Research Professor of Philosophy at The University of Georgia, where he co-founded the Faculty of Environmental Ethics. He has published numerous books, among them Being and Value: Toward a Constructive Postmodern Metaphysics, also published by SUNY Press.

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