Reason, Truth and History

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Cambridge University Press, Dec 31, 1981 - Philosophy - 222 pages
2 Reviews
Hilary Putnam deals in this book with some of the most fundamental persistent problems in philosophy: the nature of truth, knowledge and rationality. His aim is to break down the fixed categories of thought which have always appeared to define and constrain the permissible solutions to these problems.
  

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Review: Reason, Truth and History

User Review  - Siavash - Goodreads

This has got to be one of the best books putnam has written. The arguments are well made and accompanied by punctual and entertaining intuition pumps. I found the best about it though is how it ... Read full review

Review: Reason, Truth and History

User Review  - Andrew - Goodreads

Reason, Truth, and History is a short, dense book rife with ideas, some of which are mind-blowing, others of which seem rather suspect. First and probably foremost, I'm impressed by the man's embrace ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

Brains in a vat
1
A problem about reference
22
Two philosophical perspectives
49
Mind and body
75
Two conceptions of rationality
103
Fact and value
127
Reason and history
150
The impact of science on modern conceptions of rationality
174
Values facts and cognition
201
Appendix
217
Index
219
Copyright

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About the author (1981)

According to John Passmore, Hilary Putnam's work is a "history of recent philosophy in outline" (Recent Philosophers). He adds that writing "about "Putnam's philosophy' is like trying to capture the wind with a fishing-net." Born in Chicago and educated at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California at Los Angeles, Putnam taught at Northwestern University, Princeton University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before moving to Harvard University in 1965. In his early years at Harvard, he was an outspoken opponent of the war in Vietnam. Although he writes in the idiom of analytic philosophy, Putnam addresses major themes relating science to ethics and epistemology. If these themes are reminiscent of David Hume---as, for that matter, is much of analytic philosophy---his treatment of them is not. Putnam's work is far more profoundly shaped by recent work in logic, foundations of mathematics, and science than would have been possible for Hume; Putnam has contributed to each. He differs from Hume and stands more in the tradition of Willard Quine and American pragmatism in his treatment of the crucial distinctions between analytic and synthetic statements and between facts and values. Both distinctions, sharply made by Hume, are claimed by Putnam not to be absolute. He attempts to show, for example, that basic concepts of philosophy, science, and mathematics all are interrelated, so that mathematics bears more similarity to empirical reasoning than is customarily acknowledged.

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