Flight from Fallibility: How Theory Triumphed Over Experience in the West

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Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002 - History - 154 pages
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Perkinson provides an original historical interpretation that shows how our intellectual, political, economic, and social institutions emerged out of and are based upon the acceptance of human fallibility. However, ever since Plato, theorists have tried to flee from human fallibility in futile quests for certain knowledge, for legitimate government, for a just economy, and for a morality with a rational foundation.

These theorists ignore the fact that people in the West, by accepting their fallibility and relying on their experience, have actually constructed critical intellectual institutions that advance knowledge without justification, critical political institutions that lack legitimacy but create stable polities, critical economic institutions that promote wealth that is not based on the pursuit of self-interest, and critical social institutions that establish morality that does not have a rational foundation. By the beginning of the twenty-first century, the triumph of theory over experience threatened to destroy those critical institutions. A provocative analysis that will be of interest to scholars, students, and researchers involved with world civilization and sociopolitical theory.


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Knowledge Without Justification
Government Without Legitimacy
Economics Without SelfInterest
Morality Without a Foundation
Conclusion Flight from a Fallibility
Selected Bibliography

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About the author (2002)

HENRY J. PERKINSON is Emeritus Professor of History at New York University./e Among Professor Perkinson's eleven earlier books are Learning from Our Mistakes (Greenwood Press, 1984) and How Things Got Better (Bergin & Garvey, 1995).

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