Styles of Thought: Interpretation, Inquiry, and Imagination

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SUNY Press, Jan 8, 2009 - Philosophy - 198 pages
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Every man and woman is located in two ways. One is stolidly physical: each human body has a unique address and trajectory. The other comes with beliefs that locate us by answering a salvo of questions: Who, what, and where am I? What are my relations to other people and things? Answers come with either of two emphases. Beliefs critical to practical life and science require that we engage familiar things or find our way in strange cities and streets. Such beliefs supply meaning and security. Ascribing significance to myself or my family, religion, or state, I tell a story that locates me within a world of purpose and value. Neighbors feel and valorize their lives as I do, so our story spreads to dominate a people or an era. One procedure—inquiry—favors reality testing and truth. The other—interpretation—uses meaning to appease vulnerability and glorify believers. Beliefs of these two kinds are sometimes joined, but they are often opposed and mutually hostile. Both philosophy and culture at large confuse these ways of thinking. Styles of Thought distinguishes and clarifies them.
 

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Contents

Two Styles of Explanation Interpretation and Inquiry
7
INTERPRETATION
8
INQUIRY
14
DIFFERENT TASKS
19
PERSPECTIVE
22
AN EXAMPLE
29
MIXED MODES
31
APPLICATIONS
32
TRUTH
76
ANIMADVERSIONS
80
ENGAGING OTHER PEOPLE AND THINGS
91
AIMS
94
IDEALS
95
A CHOICE
96
A Disputed Question
97
THE DIALECTIC OF UNTESTABLE IDEAS
107

VALUES
35
MORALITY
36
POLITICS
38
Interpretation Self and Society
45
DISTORTION
50
EMOTION
51
STORIES
52
SOCIALIZED INTERPRETATIONS
53
ELIDING FACT AND VALUE
56
MAGIC MYTH AND METAPHOR
57
FAITH AND FANTASY
59
PHILOSOPHIC RATIONALES
60
TOLERANCE
64
Inquiry Practical Life and Science
67
MEANING
73
RECONCILIATION
111
Imagination
115
CONSTRUCTION RULES
117
VARIATION
119
DISCIPLINE
120
Leading Principles
123
PRECEDENTS
124
USE
126
AN INVENTORY OF LEADING PRINCIPLES
130
VALUES
164
CATEGORIAL FORM
169
Afterword
173
Notes
175
Index
183
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About the author (2009)

David Weissman is Professor of Philosophy at City College of New York and the author of many books, including Lost Souls: The Philosophic Origins of a Cultural Dilemma and The Cage: Must, Should, and Ought from Is, both also published by SUNY Press.

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