Author(s): Stephen Mumford (Durham University, UK)
I firmly believed there was a world outside of our own minds . . . But all around me were challenges. . . . How could we be so sure there were such things existing apart from us?
Philosopher Benedict Chilwell faces a crisis of confidence and hopes to resolve it in a self-imposed exile, far away in the north of Norway. From his cabin, he begins his meditations, pondering the mysteries of philosophy in the dark Arctic winter.
Pride, a whale, love and lust, the Huldra, God and a chain of causes all interrupt Benedict's solitude. Could they prove his salvation?
In six days approaching the return of the light, Benedict discovers a basis for certainty and tries his best to convince his hosts. Through doubts, questions and reasoning, Chilwell inadvertently follows in Descartes' footsteps. Will he be killed by the cold too; or will the warmth of Plato's sun save him in time?
What if philosophy had taken a different path, based on the reality of cause and effect, not solitary thought and experience? This entertaining story of a philosopher forced to confront his doubts in a tiny village in Norway presents a new way of understanding reality.
Stephen Mumford is Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Nottingham UK. He is the author of Metaphysics: A Very Short Introduction (2012) and Causation: A Very Short Introduction (2013).
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