Human Interests: Reflections on Philosophical Anthropology

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Stanford University Press, 1990 - Philosophy - 198 pages
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Philosophical anthropology is the philosophical study of the conditions of human existence and the issues that confront people in the conduct of their everyday lives. This book surveys, from a contemplative, philosophical point of view, a wide variety of human-interest issues, including happiness, luck, aging, the meaning of life, optimism and pessimism, morality, and faith and belief. The author's deliberations blend historical, theoretical, and personal perspectives into philosophical appreciation of the human condition. The philosophers of Greek antiquity took philosophy to center around just this issue of intelligent living - of determining the nature of life under the guidance of reason. Such a perspective puts philosophical agenda - a position it contested with the philosophy of nature throughout classical antiquity. In more recent times, however, its prominence has declined - no doubt, the author suggests, because modern man's achievements have been more notable in the natural than in the human science.
 

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Contents

Philosophical Anthropology
1
three Good Advice
22
four Proverbial Wisdom
36
seven Evolution and Intelligence
59
eight Limits and Limitations
70
nine The Quest of Sisyphus
77
eleven Two Modes of Morality
102
twelve Optimism and Pessimism
117
thirteen The Power of Ideals
138
fourteen The Meaning of Life
151
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About the author (1990)

Born in Germany, Nicholas Rescher moved to the United States with his parents in 1939 and became a naturalized American citizen in 1944. He attended Queens College in New York City and he received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1951. Rescher served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1952 to 1954 and was employed by the Rand Corporation from 1954 to 1956. He resumed his academic career in 1957 and in 1961 joined the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh, where he is now Research Professor of Philosophy. He played a major role in propelling Pittsburgh into the very top rank among graduate schools in philosophy in the United States. Rescher is the most prolific living American philosophical author, as the list of his books in print reveals. He is also the founding editor of three major philosophical journals: American Philosophical Quarterly, History of Philosophy Quarterly, and Public Affairs Quarterly. Approaching philosophy with a solid background in mathematics and science, he has also specialized in the history of philosophy, with a doctoral dissertation and early articles on Leibniz and, later, with pioneering scholarship on medieval Arabic logic. Rescher's experiences led him to seek practical applications for his philosophical expertise, and he ventured beyond academic philosophy to draw upon empirical research as well as logical method to produce significant works in social thought. He has also sought to formulate a coherent philosophical system in the great tradition. His thinking has moved in the direction of philosophical idealism as he increasingly emphasized the role of mind in constituting its objects.

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