Author(s): A.C. Grayling
This book discusses a subject of particular resonance today when belief - religious and otherwise - can shape the modern world. Complex theories are brought to life by Grayling's skill and accessible style. A book on scepticism from Anthony Grayling is to be greatly valued. Grayling is rare among academic philosophers: he is not only a brilliant thinker, but also has the power to communicate serious ideas to a wide audience. The subject of Scepticism is one of particular interest to people today. It is well known that Grayling reserves particular scepticism for religious statements, but that is only part of this compelling new book. Scepticism as a philosophical term is as old as the Greeks but has more recently been advanced by Montaigne, Descartes and Hume. To these, what little we know that seems certain is based on observation and habit as opposed to any logical or scientific necessity. Thus, sceptical views relate directly to epistemology - the theory of knowledge and what we can know - and, in the modern turbulent world, it is Grayling's contention that these are issues that all contemporary people need to focus on.
In seeking understanding of the human condition we need more than just a set of beliefs about it: all belief is irrational. We want to know or garner some kind of proof about the fundamental truths of human existence. This is the crux of the dilemma facing intelligent people today and is greatly illuminated by this book.
"Grayling (philosophy, Birkbeck Coll., Univ. of London) sets himself the goal of refuting or at least of attempting to refute the philosophical doctrine that absolute knowledge is impossible. To do so, he considers two sets of arguments from major antiskeptical philosophers Berkeley and Russell in one tradition and Quine and Wittgenstein in another and argues that the strategies the aforementioned philosophers used to accomplish their goals are "not so much incorrect as incomplete." He thereupon argues in extensive, closely reasoned, if often turgid detail, his own stratagem which, he believes, "is the right one overall." Because of the fecundity of the argument, readers will have a difficult time deciding if he has succeeded. This is not a book for beginners in philosophy: it deals with an issue most philosophers consider the central one in philosophy and requires extensive familiarity with the discipline, both current and historical. Recommended for academic collections." Leon H. Brody, Falls Church, VA Library Journal--Leon H. Brody
A.C. Grayling is Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London. He has written and edited numerous works of philosophy and is the author of biographies of Descartes and William Hazlitt.
Introduction; Acknowledgements; Part I CARTESIAN RESPONSES; 1. Berkeley's Argument for Immaterialism.; 2. Russell, Experience, and the Roots of Science.; 3. Russell's Transcendental Argument in An Essay on the Foundations of Geometry.; Part II VARIETIES OF NATURALISM; 4. Wittgenstein On Scepticism and Certainty.; 5. Naturalistic Assumptions: Quine.; Part III SCEPTICISM AND JUSTIFICATION; 6. Scepticism and Justification; Index.