Many human beings have considered the powers and the limits of human knowledge, but few have wondered about the power that the idea of knowledge has over us. Steven Connor’s The Madness of Knowledge is the first book to investigate this emotional inner life of knowledge—the lusts, fantasies, dreams, and fears that the idea of knowing provokes. There are in-depth discussions of the imperious will to know, of Freud’s epistemophilia (or love of knowledge), and the curiously insistent links between madness, magical thinking, and the desire for knowledge. Connor also probes secrets and revelations, quarreling and the history of quizzes and “general knowledge,” charlatanry and pretension, both the violent disdain and the sanctification of the stupid, as well as the emotional investment in the spaces and places of knowledge, from the study to the library.
In an age of artificial intelligence, alternative facts, and mistrust of truth, The Madness of Knowledge offers an opulent, enlarging, and sometimes unnerving psychopathology of intellectual life.
The fruits of knowledge—such as books, data, and ideas—tend to generate far more attention than the ways in which knowledge is produced and acquired. Correcting this imbalance, Making Knowledge in Early Modern Europe brings together a wide-ranging yet tightly integrated series of essays that explore how knowledge was obtained and demonstrated in Europe during an intellectually explosive four centuries, when standard methods of inquiry took shape across several fields of intellectual pursuit.
Composed by scholars in disciplines ranging from the history of science to art history to religious studies, the pieces collected here look at the production and consumption of knowledge as a social process within many different communities. They focus, in particular, on how the methods employed by scientists and intellectuals came to interact with the practices of craftspeople and practitioners to create new ways of knowing. Examining the role of texts, reading habits, painting methods, and countless other forms of knowledge making, this volume brilliantly illuminates the myriad ways these processes affected and were affected by the period’s monumental shifts in culture and learning.
Forthright and wryly humorous, philosopher Susan Haack deploys her penetrating analytic skills on some of the most highly charged cultural and social debates of recent years. Relativism, multiculturalism, feminism, affirmative action, pragmatisms old and new, science, literature, the future of the academy and of philosophy itself—all come under her keen scrutiny in Manifesto of a Passionate Moderate.
"The virtue of Haack's book, and I mean virtue in the ethical sense, is that it embodies the attitude that it exalts. . . Haack's voice is urbane, sensible, passionate—the voice of philosophy that matters. How good to hear it again."—Jonathan Rauch, Reason
"A tough mind, confident of its power, making an art of logic . . . a cool mastery."—Paul R. Gross, Wilson Quarterly
"Few people are better able to defend the notion of truth, and in strong, clear prose, than Susan Haack . . . a philosopher of great distinction."—Hugh Lloyd-Jones, National Review
"If you relish acute observation and straight talk, this is a book to read."—Key Reporter (Phi Beta Kappa)
"Everywhere in this book there is the refreshing breeze of common sense, patiently but inexorably blowing."—Roger Kimball, Times Literary Supplement
"A refreshing alternative to the extremism that characterizes so much rhetoric today."—Kirkus Reviews
It is often assumed that natural philosophy was the forerunner of early modern natural sciences. But where did these sciences’ systematic observation and experimentation get their starts? In Materials and Expertise in Early Modern Europe, the laboratories, workshops, and marketplaces emerge as arenas where hands-on experience united with higher learning. In an age when chemistry, mineralogy, geology, and botany intersected with mining, metallurgy, pharmacy, and gardening, materials were objects that crossed disciplines.
Here, the contributors tell the stories of metals, clay, gunpowder, pigments, and foods, and thereby demonstrate the innovative practices of technical experts, the development of the consumer market, and the formation of the observational and experimental sciences in the early modern period. Materials and Expertise in Early Modern Europe showcases a broad variety of forms of knowledge, from ineffable bodily skills and technical competence to articulated know-how and connoisseurship, from methods of measuring, data gathering, and classification to analytical and theoretical knowledge. By exploring the hybrid expertise involved in the making, consumption, and promotion of various materials, and the fluid boundaries they traversed, the book offers an original perspective on important issues in the history of science, medicine, and technology.
This is the second volume of John McDowell's selected papers. These nineteen essays collectively report on McDowell's involvement, over more than twenty years, with questions about the interface between the philosophies of language and mind and with issues in general epistemology. Throughout McDowell focuses on questions to do with content: with the nature of content both linguistic and psychological; with what McDowell regards as misguided views about content; and with the form which a proper semantic theory of content should assume.
Few writers' unfinished works are considered among their most important, but such is the case with Merleau-Ponty's The Visible and the Invisible. What exists of it is a mere beginning, yet it bridged modernism and postmodernism in philosophy. Low uses material from some of Merleau-Ponty's later works as the basis for completion. Working from this material and the philosopher's own outline, Low presents how this important work would have looked had Merleau-Ponty lived to complete it.
What is the nature of the social sciences? What kinds of knowledge can they—and should they—hope to create? Are objective viewpoints possible and can universal laws be discovered? Questions like these have been asked with increasing urgency in recent years, as some philosophers and researchers have perceived a "crisis" in the social sciences. Metatheory in Social Science offers many provocative arguments and analyses of basic conceptual frameworks for the study of human behavior. These are offered primarily by practicing researchers and are related to problems in disciplines as diverse as sociology, psychology, psychiatry, anthropology, and philosophy of science.
While various points of view are expressed in these nineteen essays, they have in common several themes, including the comparison of social and natural science, the role of knowledge in meeting the demands of society and its pressing problems, and the nature and role of subjectivity in science. Some authors hold that subjectivity cannot be studied scientifically; others argue that it can and must be if progress in knowledge is to be made. The essays demonstrate the philosophical pluralism they discuss and give a wide range of alternative positions on the future of the social and behavioral sciences in a postpositivist intellectual world.
The polymath Michael Polanyi first made his mark as a physical chemist, but his interests gradually shifted to economics, politics, and philosophy, in which field he would ultimately propose a revolutionary theory of knowledge that grew out of his firsthand experience with both the scientific method and political totalitarianism. In this sixth entry in ISI Books’ Library of Modern Thinkers’ series, Mark T. Mitchell reveals how Polanyi came to recognize that the roots of the modern political and spiritual crisis lay in an errant conception of knowledge that served to foreclose any possibility of making meaningful statements about truth, goodness, or beauty. Polanyi’s theory of knowledge as ineluctably personal but also grounded in reality is not merely of historical interest, writes Mitchell, for it proposes an attractive alternative for anyone who would reject both the hubris of modern rationalism and the ultimately nihilistic implications of academic postmodernism.
Modern philosophy finds it difficult to give a satisfactory picture of the place of minds in the world. In Mind and World, one of the most distinguished philosophers writing today offers his diagnosis of this difficulty and points to a cure.
Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological notion of motivation advances a compelling alternative to the empiricist and rationalist assumptions that underpin modern epistemology.
Arguing that knowledge is ultimately founded in perceptual experience, Peter Antich interprets and defends Merleau-Ponty’s thinking on motivation as the key to establishing a new form of epistemic grounding. Upending the classical dichotomy between reason and natural causality, justification and explanation, Antich shows how this epistemic ground enables Merleau-Ponty to offer a radically new account of knowledge and its relation to perception. In so doing, Antich demonstrates how and why Merleau-Ponty remains a vital resource for today’s epistemologists.
Philosophy is born in its history as pursuit of the wisdom we are never able fully to know. Mystery and Intelligibility: History of Philosophy as Pursuit of Wisdom both argues for that method and presents the results it can achieve.
Editor Jeffrey Dirk Wilson has gathered essays from six philosophical luminaries. In “History, Philosophy, and the History of Philosophy,” Timothy B. Noone provides the volume’s discourse on method in which he distinguishes three tiers of history. History of philosophy as method occupies the third and highest tier. John Rist reckons with contemporary corruption of the method in “A Guide for the Perplexed or How to Present or Pervert the History of Philosophy.” Wilson’s own essay, “Wonder and the Discovery of Being: From Homeric Myth to the Natural Genera of Early Greek Philosophy,” shows the loss of wonder, so evident in mythology, by early Greek thinkers and its recovery by Plato and Aristotle. In “Metaphysics and the Origin of Culture,” Donald Phillip Verene demonstrates the wide cultural implications of philosophical discoveries even when the discovery is the boundary of what humans can know. William Desmond offers an essay, “Flux-Gibberish: For and Against Heraclitus,” that owes as much to the humor of James Joyce as to the philosophical insights of philosophers, ancient, medieval, and modern. Eric D. Perl’s essay turns to the apophatic character of pursuing wisdom, perhaps especially when asking what may be the most fundamental metaphysical question: “Into the Dark: How (Not) to Ask, ‘Why is There Anything at All.’” Philipp W. Rosemann concludes the volume with the question best asked at the end of this literary seminar, “What is Philosophy?”
Although there are philosophers within the analytic and continental schools who are committed to the history of philosophy, Mystery and Intelligibility demonstrates that history of philosophy as a third and distinct philosophical method is revelatory of the nature and structure of reality.